It’s very common for women to notice new varicose veins during and after pregnancy, even if they never had them before. A number of conditions of pregnancy can bring on symptoms of venous disease, including varicose veins, ankle swelling and more. Pregnancy can put women at greater risk for a more serious vascular problem, a blood clot called DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Fortunately, there are many things women can do, during pregnancy and after, to prevent or limit the development of varicose veins and venous disease.
Why Does Pregnancy Affect the Vascular System?
A developing fetus places an increasing amount of pressure upon the pelvic (iliac) veins as pregnancy progresses. Over the course of the pregnancy, there is more weight pressing on the veins and less room for normal blood flow. Blood flow in the lower body slows and tiny valves inside veins, that help return blood from the extremities to the heart, can become overwhelmed or damaged.
The result can be leg pain, swelling and varicose veins. Although these symptoms are somewhat normal in pregnant women, you should always inform your obstetrician/physician about these symptoms during pregnancy. With successive pregnancies, the symptoms may become worse and more varicose veins may appear. After pregnancy, symptoms will ease and some varicose veins may fade, however it is wise to visit your vascular specialist. At 3 to 6 months after giving birth, your vascular surgeon can assess your circulation, treating and eliminating varicose veins that may remain.
Preventing Vein Problems from Pregnancy
Take care of your health, including your vein health, during pregnancy to avoid serious vein problems such as DVT and also limit milder problems like varicose veins. Use these tips to encourage proper circulation while pregnant, under the direction of your obstetrician:
- Wear compression hosiery to relieve pressure on lower body veins.
- Remain active and exercise, according to the guidance of your obstetrician.
- Elevate your legs when possible.
- Move around. Sitting in one position for a long period increases pressure on veins. Change positions often, and alternate sitting with walking.
- Include foods with essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and bioflavonoids, in your diet to keep veins strong and healthy. These foods include dark leafy greens, cranberries, blueberries, garlic and onions.
- After giving birth, gradually return to a normal level of exercise, beginning with stretching exercises, swimming and/or walking,
- See your vascular surgeon at the NJ vein center 3 to 6 months after giving birth.
There’s no need to wait until you’ve finished having children to seek vascular treatment in NJ. Prevent cumulative damage by seeing your vascular surgeon to monitor your vein health and treat varicose veins as they occur. To learn more, contact our Metro Vein Centers location in Florham Park, NJ.