When you think of pregnancy symptoms, you probably think of the usual suspects – nausea, food cravings, maybe a few mood swings, and occasional back pain, right? For some expectant mothers, one symptom seems to sneak up pretty quickly and without warning – varicose veins.
Varicose veins are bulging enlarged veins, usually in the legs and feet. Pregnancy is one of the major risk factors for developing varicose veins, caused by added blood flow and pressure on the veins in the lower body. While some expectant mothers have added risk factors like a family history, there are steps you can take to prevent the onset and severity of varicose veins during pregnancy.
Sleep on your left side – At night try to make a point to sleep on your left side. This helps relieve the pressure on the main vein on the right side hindered by the weight of the uterus.
Keep legs elevated – To help promote better circulation, lie down and elevate your legs above your heart. This helps alleviate the pressure on the veins returning blood to your heart. Also, you can keep a pillow at the foot of your bed to keep your legs elevated while you sleep.
Take frequent breaks – Whether you are standing or sitting in the same position for a long time, make sure you take frequent breaks, change positions and either sit down and rest if you have been standing, or get up and walk around if you have been sitting for a while.
Don’t cross legs – Crossing your legs was probably not a problem before you were pregnant, however, sitting in this position can help impeded blood circulation and further add stress to varicose veins.
Manage weight gain – Weight gain over a short period of time can also put added pressure on the veins in your legs and feet. Try to manage slow and steady weight gain throughout your pregnancy by staying physically active. Exercise also helps lower your blood pressure and improves circulation.
Wear compression socks – To help promote circulation, especially if you are standing or sitting in the same position for a long period or time, invest in a good pair of compression socks. Most medical supply stores and pharmacies have graduated compression socks on hand. They can help prevent varicose veins from getting worse, as well as help to minimize swelling.
If you have questions about your varicose veins during pregnancy, consult with your health care provider.