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Varicose veins are common for everyone—but especially if you’re pregnant.

These big, blue veins can either pop up or worsen while you’re expecting. You could also experience a smaller type, called spider veins.

For some, these enlarged veins can create an aching or uncomfortable sensation. Even if not, some people don’t like the look of them and seek out cosmetic treatment.

What are varicose veins and why are you prone to them during pregnancy? Most importantly, how do you encourage better blood flow and prevent them? To learn all that and more, keep reading.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins where blood pools. If you have them, you’ll notice bulging, blue veins, typically in the legs or feet.

Although deep veins can become varicose, it usually happens to superficial veins, near the skin’s surface.

Spider veins are a smaller type of varicose vein. These veins can look like red or blue spiderwebs. Like varicose veins, spider veins are usually superficial and affect the legs. They also commonly affect the face.

About 23% of Americans have varicose veins. When spider veins are considered, about 80% of men and 85% of women have them. Pregnancy can raise your chances of getting varicose veins. For many women, they first develop while they’re expecting or they become worse. Varicose veins are typically harmless but can cause swelling and aching.

Although there’s no reason to be self-conscious of varicose veins, some people try to prevent them because they don’t like their appearance. Although they can become a medical problem, they’re often more of a cosmetic concern.

Pregnancy Varicose Veins Pain

Even if you don’t mind the appearance of varicose veins, it’s a good idea to try to prevent them so you’ll have better, healthier blood flow. However, despite your best efforts, you may not be able to prevent yourself from getting varicose veins.

You might not feel varicose veins at all, but those who notice sensations may experience:

  • Itchiness
  • Pain and aches
  • Discomfort
  • Tenderness when touched if inflamed

Most varicose veins don’t need treatment. However, contact your doctor or midwife if:

  • A blood clot forms under the skin
  • A leg becomes severely swollen
  • You notice leg sores or skin color changes

Although rare, if a superficial venous thrombosis leads to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it can become life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Pregnancy Varicose Veins on Labia

It’s important to know that you can also get varicose veins on your labia during pregnancy (vulvar varicosities). Although you might not notice a change, they may appear as tiny but larger-than-usual, twisted veins. According to one paper, they affect 10% of pregnant women, usually during month 5.

Although it may seem like an odd location, it’s caused by increased blood volume in that region. In addition to that, your blood takes longer to travel back up to your heart. These poor circulation problems lead to blood pooling in that area.

Pregnancy varicose veins on your labia may or may not cause pain. If they do, it may feel tender, sore, swollen, or like there’s pressure in that area.

Most women who get vulvar varicosities experience them during pregnancy. They typically go away within 6 weeks after birth.

What Causes Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?

Being pregnant is a risk factor for varicose veins. Although the condition is common among adults in general, pregnancy creates changes that make varicose veins more likely.

Other factors for varicose veins during pregnancy include:

  • If other people in your family have had varicose veins, you have a greater chance of having them.
  • Increased Blood Volume.During pregnancy, you have an increased amount of blood in your body for the baby. This can lead to an increase in blood in your veins.
  • Overweight. Gaining more weight than necessary can increase your chances of varicose veins.
  • Those who sit or stand for long periods of time, or who don’t exercise, are more prone to blood flow problems.
  • Uterus Pressure.The extra pressure from your growing uterus can affect leg veins.
  • Leg Injuries.If a leg injury damaged a valve in a vain, you may be at an increased risk.
  • As veins weaken, you’re more likely to develop problems like varicose veins.

How to Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Here are the best tips to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy.

#1 Avoid Being Still For Long Periods of Time

To decrease your chances of getting varicose veins during pregnancy, avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time. If your job requires you to be still for extended periods of time, take breaks to move your body, encouraging the blood to flow.

When your body is sedentary, blood can pool in the leg veins. This turns up the pressure in your veins, enlarging them. Think about ways you can add movement into your day if you work a sitting or standing job.

If you work a sitting job, like in an office, consider these tips:

  • Move on your way to work (walk, take the stairs, park the car farther away, get off at an earlier bus stop, etc.)
  • Change sitting positions
  • Give your legs a gentle shake and bend or extend them periodically
  • Eat lunch away from your desk, forcing you to walk
  • Take a brief walk around the office, even if just to the water cooler
  • Look into options for a standing desk to vary your work positions

If you work a standing job, like a sales clerk, consider:

  • Move on your way to work (walk, take the stairs, park the car farther away, get off at an earlier bus stop, etc.)
  • Periodically move your legs while standing with a shake, movement and by bending them
  • Take your lunch outside or any location that requires you to walk
  • If you’re sitting on your breaks, shake/move your legs

#2 Lay On Your Side

Changing your sleeping position is a good way to help prevent varicose veins. Healthcare practitioners often advise women to sleep on their side later in pregnancy because it encourages better circulation. And since you’re sleeping for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to take note of your position.

Sleeping on your side can take the pressure off of the veins, reducing the chances of blood pooling. Although your sleeping position may not make a difference early on, during the later stages of pregnancy, it might be a good idea to try sleeping on your side, if possible.

#3 Elevate Your Legs

When you can, put your feet up. This will make it easier for the blood to flow back to your heart.

If you work a desk job, consider placing a stool under your desk. Get a stool for home too or use a coffee table. If you’re in bed or laying down, you can also try using a pillow or buying a wedge.

#4 Compression Socks

Compression socks are tight, long pairs of socks that will help increase your circulation. As the arteries relax, blood flows easier. Although you can wear compression socks all day if needed, especially consider them when you’re inactive. They can be ideal for desk jobs, standing jobs, or traveling.

If you want to try compression socks, you can pick up a pair at your local drugstore. Keep in mind that there are varying strengths. Mild can be as low as 8 mmHg, up to 30 mmHg for a firm pair. In general, try the lowest strength first. If the highest strength isn’t providing relief, your doctor may be able to write you a prescription for stronger compression socks.

#5 Exercise

Besides trying to build in movement throughout your day, try to make exercise a routine.

Whether you like going to the gym, classes, or following yoga videos online, do what you can. If you’re new to physical activity, consider dancing around your home to music or taking a nightly walk around the block. Anything that gets your body moving will help blood flow, making varicose veins less likely.

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#5 Avoid High Heels

At least for your pregnancy, try to ditch the high heels in favor of something more supportive.

One study showed that high heels can reduce muscle pump function, leading to a change in circulation. According to the authors, although more research is needed, it might be a factor in venous disease symptoms.

Also Read: Poor Circulation Pregnancy: 9 Hacks for All Trimesters

Summary: How to Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Since they can be hereditary, there’s no surefire way to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy. Although they’re not typically a medical issue, some people dislike their appearance. In any case, varicose veins or spider veins are a good idea to prevent because they signal pooling blood and slower blood flow. The best tips include moving your legs, getting exercise, using elevation, and considering compression socks.

P.S. If you’re having problems with blood flow, you might also be prone to stretch marks. Check out MamaDerma Stretch Mark Prevention Oil to help keep skin hydrated.

Want to Prevent Stretch Marks Too? Get the Pregnancy-Safe Prevention Oil Today!

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