Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
Varicose veins are unsightly and often uncomfortable twisted and bulging veins, normally found in the legs. There are a number of risk factors for varicose veins including excess weight, heredity and, the topic of this blog – pregnancy. Varicose veins are typically harmless during pregnancy but should be evaluated by a vein specialist to ensure there are no serious underlying issues.
Causes of varicose veins during pregnancy
- The most common cause of varicose veins during pregnancy is the uterus pushing on the inferior vena cava – the vein that transports blood to the heart from the lower extremities. This pressure slows blood flow and can cause the swelling and pain that is commonly associated with varicose veins. This can also lead to blood clots.
- Due to the hereditary nature of varicose veins, patients whose mother or grandmother may have had varicose veins during their pregnancy may be at higher risk.
- Hormonal changes, very common during pregnancy, can cause the dilation of veins.
- The increase in blood volume over the course of pregnancy can also add to the risk.
There are ways to minimize the risk of varicose veins during pregnancy, specifically by reducing the risk factors associated with the condition. While the following are useful for anyone concerned about varicose veins, there is no way to ensure prevention.
- Stay active – a sedentary lifestyle slows blood flow around the body increasing the risk of varicose veins
- Avoid crossing legs when sitting to allow unrestricted blood flow from the legs back up to the heart
- Sleep on your left side to minimize pressure on the inferior vena cava
- Speak to your vein specialist about compression stockings that may assist with blood flow in the extremities
- Stop often and get up when traveling long distances to avoid varicose veins and possible blood clots such as Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT
Varicose veins may be unavoidable during pregnancy, but there’s plenty you can do to reduce your risk and minimize the effects. Should you require varicose vein treatment, several minimally invasive options are suitable for pregnant women, so please schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.