Varicose veins are blood vessels whose valves no longer work properly. So, when you see bulging, ugly blue and purple veins on your legs, they’re not just an eyesore, they’re a sign that your circulation isn’t as healthy as it could be.
Healthy veins pump deoxygenated blood up toward your heart. In varicose veins, the blood moves slowly and pools behind the faulty valves.
Extra weight puts a strain on your veins, which is why you’re more likely to develop varicose veins if you’re obese. Or in the late stages of pregnancy.
Jeffrey Gosin, MD and our team at Shore Vascular and Vein Center in Somers Point, New Jersey, assure you that varicose veins aren’t dangerous and don’t affect your baby’s health. Although you shouldn’t remove varicose veins while you’re pregnant, you can treat them after you’ve had your baby.
But you may not have to: Many varicose veins that appear during pregnancy resolve on their own after you lose the baby weight. In the meantime, if you’re bothered by the appearance of your varicose veins, we’ve laid out a few tips to help you manage them during pregnancy.
Wear compression stockings
While compression stockings are hardly fashionable, they do a good job of putting pressure on your legs so that your veins work better. The constant pressure aids your circulation and also helps control symptoms of varicose veins, such as leg fatigue or pain.
Put your feet up
You’ll probably like this tip most of all: Whenever you’re taking a load off by sitting down and resting your legs, prop them up on a stool or pillow. Elevating your legs helps your veins pump blood back up toward your heart more easily.
Even better, when you have a moment, lie down on your back, and then elevate your legs. That position facilitates the movement of blood toward your heart and gives your legs the rest they deserve after carrying two people all day long.
Drink more water
The pressure of your growing baby on your bladder may make you urinate more, but that’s no reason to slack on hydration. You still need to drink your 8-10 cups of water and other healthy liquids per day. In fact, since your baby needs water, too, you should drink a little more.
Drinking enough liquids keeps all of your cells and tissues adequately hydrated. If you’re thirsty, you could already be dehydrated, so be sure to carry water with you if you go on a walk, hike, or errands. Sufficient liquid intake also helps you avoid constipation.
Shake it up
Try not to stay in one position too long. Your entire body benefits if you shift positions every half an hour or so. If you’re sitting down, get up after 30 minutes to stretch and walk. If you have to stand all day, take sitting breaks, too.
You also should continue to exercise, following your OB/GYN’s recommendations for each trimester of pregnancy. Exercise gets your circulation going, which helps prevent varicose veins from occurring in the first place. Even daily walks can help preserve your vein health.
Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on your side is usually considered the healthiest position because your airway stays open, reducing your risk for snoring and sleep apnea, which can interrupt your rest. Sleeping on your left side also relieves pressure on the inferior vena cava, the vein that carries deoxygenated blood back toward your heart.
Wear flat, comfy shoes
We warned you up front, this is not about fashion! But seriously, you can find some beautiful, well-made leather or natural-fabric shoes that give your feet plenty of room and allow them to breathe.
High-heeled shoes restrict the movement of blood through your calves, which could cause the blood in your veins to pool more behind the faulty valves. Flat shoes allow better circulation through your leg veins.
Give yourself a post-baby treat
Once you have your beautiful new baby, you’ll probably find yourself shedding those pregnancy pounds. As you do, you may notice that your varicose veins improve, too. If not, Dr. Gosin can treat them with radiofrequency ablation or minimally invasive surgical removal.