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Why am I getting varicose veins during pregnancy?

Jilanne Rose, DNP ANP-BC
February 19, 2016

 Pregnancy and Varicose Veins

Causes of Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

There are a number of reasons why women get varicose veins during pregnancy.

First, the volume of blood circulating in the body increases to help support your growing baby. However, veins don’t have a way to accommodate the extra volume so sometimes the veins bulge, itch, are painful to touch, or hurt when you stand for a long time.

Secondly, the hormones released during pregnancy can cause the vein walls to weaken — thus contributing to symptoms in the legs such as leg fatigue, leg heaviness, and leg cramping.

Third, another factor which contributes to the vein appearance is that your growing uterus and baby put pressure on the large vein that runs back up to the heart. The added pressure can cause leg and ankle swelling, numbness, tingling, and leg pain.

Finally, varicose veins or venous insufficiency is hereditary — a parent or grandparent usually has vein issues and passes it down.  


Can I Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy but there are certain things you can do to alleviate discomfort until the veins can be properly treated after giving birth.

  • During pregnancy, it is important not to sit or stand in one place for too long.
    • Lack of movement increases the risk of blood pooling in the veins, and we know when blood stops moving, it clots.
    • Take frequent walks, and if you have to sit for long periods of time, roll your ankles in a circle and pump your feet up and down to get the blood moving back to the heart.
  • Elevate your legs when possible.
    • Having them down on the floor will increase swelling and pain.
    • At night, sleep on your left side to improve circulation and take the pressure off of your low back.

After Pregnancy Will Varicose Veins Go Away?

Sometimes after pregnancy, vein problems can improve on their own. More often than not, however, symptoms persist, especially if you have a family history of vein issues such as venous insufficiency. After pregnancy, varicose veins can be safely treated. It is important to have your veins evaluated by a specialist in order to ensure that you are not at risk for complications associated with venous disease.

If you have any questions regarding varicose veins and pregnancy, please feel free to call us at Advanced Vein Institute of Arizona. We'd be happy to spend some time with you and answer all your questions! 480-454-5562


If you have ANY concerns about your veins and would like a FREE  vascular health assessment, we are here for you!

To introduce our new location to the Phoenix area, we are offering a free vein examination, assessment, and consultation to identify any varicose veins risk factors you may have (or share this with a friend).

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