Pregnancy and Varicose Veins

Spider veins and varicose veins are parts of pregnancy that many people don’t talk about, which is why it’s natural for new moms to get nervous. If you’re pregnant or in between pregnancies and have spider veins or varicose veins, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are the answers you’re looking for.

Are Varicose Veins Common During Pregnancy?

Varicose veins are actually fairly common in pregnant women. Pregnancy causes a woman’s body to work harder than normal, leading to the development of varicose veins. Approximately 40% of women experience spider veins or varicose veins during pregnancy. These bulging, twisted veins can cause legs to feel heavy, restless, painful, and achy, and increase the risk of developing blood clots.

Of course, you don’t have to be a first-time mom to be surprised by this vein condition. Some women have several children without noticing any problems, only to experience varicose veins during their third or fourth pregnancy.

Are Varicose Veins Harmful to a Pregnancy?

While seeing bulging veins can make you understandably nervous, you can rest easy, they don’t hurt your baby.

Veins disease can produce a range of symptoms, including discomfort, itching, pain, swelling, heaviness, or burning Sometimes, the swollen veins mainly cause cosmetic issues. Other times, women have trouble sleeping because of the throbbing. Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate many of these symptoms.

For many women, varicose veins will be less noticeable (although still present) after pregnancy once progesterone levels return to normal. For some, vein disease will progress after pregnancy, worsening the look and pain associated with varicose veins. The good news? In both cases, a thorough evaluation and noninvasive treatment can help. Modern technology advances allow for vein disease to be treated in between pregnancies to initiate a faster response to stop the progression of the disease.

Are Vein Issues Hereditary?

There are several potential causes of varicose veins. For instance, family history of vein disease can increase your risk of developing varicose veins during pregnancy.

What else causes varicose veins in pregnancy? Here are a few additional reasons pregnant women can experience them:

  • Blood volume: During pregnancy, your body produces a higher volume of blood than normal. This increases the amount of pressure your veins have to deal with.
  • Hormones: Some of the hormones released during pregnancy dilate your blood vessels to allow more blood through. At the same time, these hormones soften vein walls. This combination can lead to bulging veins.
  • Fetal development: As your baby and uterus grow, they exert more pressure on the veins in your legs. This pressure can temporarily prevent some of the blood from returning to the heart. That’s why varicose veins primarily occur in the legs.

This means that there’s not much you can do to avoid or prevent spider veins from appearing. Think of this condition as a part of pregnancy, similar to morning sickness or back pain.

Are There Any Steps You Can Take to Alleviate the Symptoms?

There are several things you can do to make the symptoms better:

  • Rest with your legs raised
  • Swim
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Take a nap
  • Sleep on your left side
  • Wear compression stockings

Doctors don’t generally recommend any treatments or medication for varicose veins during pregnancy, but you can treat them in between pregnancies should you plan to have more children.

What can you do during your pregnancy?

During your 2nd or 3rd trimester, you can schedule a consultation to have your level of vein disease assessed and have all your questions about vein disease answered. You can be fit with compression stockings to alleviate your symptoms during your pregnancy.

Are Varicose Veins Permanent?

This is one of the biggest questions that moms-to-be have. Will your veins ever go back to normal?

At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, we know how important healthy legs are to any woman. After careful research, we’re happy to say that varicose veins caused by pregnancy can often disappear afterward. Veins typically go back to normal a few months after giving birth. For some women, though, vein disease will progress, worsening the look of and pain associated with varicose veins and potentially causes bigger issues such as blood clots.

What if you’ve already had your baby but still see hints of spider veins or varicose veins that you don’t like? Are there any treatments if you still have some swelling or pain? Here are several noninvasive and comfortable treatment options. For example, endovenous laser ablation uses a tiny laser to seal problem veins.

If you want to find out more about any of the treatments, which can be performed after or in between pregnancies, we’re happy to help. Contact our caring medical professionals for great answers to all of your questions.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ADragan