Weight gain, swollen legs, and stretch marks. From head to toe, pregnancy affects every part of the body. As if all these bodily changes weren’t enough, in comes the bulging, swollen veins in the legs: varicose veins.
Although usually not harmful to health, the unsightly blood vessels may make the legs seem heavy and cause itches or a burning sensation. Before getting into how you can prevent such a condition, it’s important to understand why varicose veins happen during pregnancy.
Why Varicose Veins Happen during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the body produces increased blood volume to support the mother and the fetus; the extra blood pressure from the growing uterus puts a strain on your blood vessels, especially the ones in your legs.
These blood vessels have to do extra work against gravity to bring all that extra blood back up to your heart. As progesterone levels increase, the walls of the blood vessels relax, making you more prone to developing varicose veins.
How You Can Prevent Varicose Veins
Medical practitioners from Hogue Vein Institute explain that you’re more likely to develop varicose veins if it runs in the family. The risk also increases with age, weight and previous pregnancies. The good news is you can prevent or at least minimize the severity of the condition. You may do these things:
Keep the blood moving. Elevate your legs to a level above your heart when sitting. Avoid standing for long periods, but when you do stand, alternate the weight on each leg. Change positions to avoid discomfort and remember not to cross your legs. These habits will regulate better blood circulation.
Exercise. Physical activity also regulates normal circulation. Thirty minutes of low-impact exercise will do. Ask your doctor about exercises that are safe for your condition.
Sleep on your left side. Doing this helps keep the pressure away from your main blood vessels and allows an efficient blood flow to the fetus, uterus and kidneys.
Watch your weight. Extra pounds add demands to the already overworked circulatory system, so monitor your weight. Yes, it’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy, but you don’t have to “eat for two.” Follow calorie intake requirements for pregnant women so you can keep the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
Varicose veins result from bodily changes you undergo as an expectant mother. If the condition becomes too uncomfortable, the best thing you can do is consult your doctor about it.