Varicose veins (also called varicosities or varices) are dilated blood vessels that fill with blood. They usually occur in the legs but also may be seen as hemorrhoids or appear in the birth canal and in the vulva. Pressure from the uterus and the change in blood flow make varices worse.
What They Look Like
Symptoms vary. For some women varicose veins are only a blemish or purple-blue spot on the legs. They cause little or no discomfort, except in the evening. For other women, varices are bulging veins that require elevation of the legs at the end of the day and compression stockings during the day; they can be very uncomfortable.
Varicose veins may get worse during pregnancy. In most cases, they become more noticeable and more painful as pregnancy progresses. Increasing weight (from your growing baby), clothing that fits tightly at the waist or legs and standing a great deal cause them to worsen.
Many women wear maternity support hose to relieve the problem; various types are available. Clothes that don't restrict circulation at the knee or groin may also help. Spend as little time as possible on your feet. Elevate your feet above the level of your heart or lie on your side when possible to help the veins drain. Wear flat shoes. Don't cross your legs when you sit down. If you continue to have problems after your pregnancy, surgery may be required.
Maternity support hose, also called compression hose, are not the support hose you buy at the store. A specialist fits them for you. Try these two tricks for putting them on more easily.
First, turn stockings inside out. Starting at the toe, unroll the stockings up your legs.
Second, put your support hose on before you get out of bed in the morning—your legs may tend to swell as soon as you get up.
You can do several things to lessen your chances of developing varicose veins in pregnancy. Some practices are the same ones you would use if you already suffered from varicose veins.
|Don't cross your legs at the knee.|
|Don't stand for long periods. |
|If you must stand, bounce gently on the balls of your feet every few minutes.|
|Lie on your side several times a day.|
|Keep your total pregnancy weight gain in the normal range — from 25 to 35 pounds (11.25 to 15.75kg) for a normal-weight woman.|