Pregnancy is the only time in life when weight gain beyond normal levels is considered healthy. Women who are pregnant can help to prevent the occurrence of varicose veins during pregnancy by following a few healthy steps.
Why Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
The first line of defense against varicose veins during pregnancy is to understand why these veins appear in the first place. While the weight on the legs certainly is a secondary reason, it is the weight of the uterus that plays a primary role in creating varicose veins.
The uterus tends to expand and this weight places pressure on the inferior vena cava, or the large vein located on the right side of the body. When this vein is placed under pressure, the veins of the lower leg tend to swell and the varicose vein is formed.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
The symptoms of varicose veins during pregnancy are identical to the symptoms in everyday life. The veins may appear swollen or bulging and can result in a spider web like effect under the skin. the area where the varicose vein has occurred can be itchy or irritated. After long periods of time on your feet, the varicose veins during pregnancy may intensify symptomatically.
How To Prevent Varicose veins During Pregnancy
There are simple ways to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy. The first is maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight. If weight gain is excessive, there will be added pressure on the inferior vena cava and the varicose veins will occur.
Other steps to prevent varicose veins include:
- Wearing compression or supportive pantyhose. These pantyhose will literally hold the veins in place and help to prevent them from bulging under the pressure of the inferior vena cava.
- Propping the legs up whenever possible. The weight of the body places great strain on the heart to continue pumping blood through the extremities, especially the legs. When legs are elevated, this pressure is relieved and the bulging does not occur as often.
- Rest on the left side of the body. The inferior vena cava is on the right side of the body. Resting on the left side prevents pressure on this large vein.
The Dangers of Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
The varicose vein is generally a harmless condition. The look of the spider veins is far worse than the condition itself, but there are rare cases that could need medical attention. In these cases, tiny blood clots appear and harden near the surface of the skin. These clots are also generally harmless, but the OB/Gyn attending to your pregnancy should be notified of the condition immediately.
Varicose veins during pregnancy are not related to deep vein thrombosis. While pregnant women are more susceptible to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), it is a rare condition that affects very few pregnant women. The confusion between the two is in the name. Varicose veins can result in superficial vein thrombosis not deep vein thrombosis. The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are quick to present and include swelling of the ankle or leg and painful flexing of the foot. Emergency medical services should be contacted if you feel you are experiencing deep vein thrombosis.