Suffering from varicose veins during pregnancy is not uncommon. If your mom had them, you’re even more likely to get them as varicose veins are (yay!) hereditary. Spider and varicose veins are many things: ugly, uncomfortable, inconvenient and in some cases, dangerous. But they can also be manageable and temporary. Many issues associated with varicose veins diminish after the birth.
Varicose veins do not necessarily mean the end of your physical activity during pregnancy. Exercise can be extremely beneficial for the prevention and maintenance of varicose veins. But not all exercise is created equally!
Let’s start by understanding what exactly varicose veins are.
The U.S. National Department of Heath defines varicose veins as:
“swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the surface of the skin. These veins usually occur in the legs, but they also can form in other parts of the body.
Veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins“.
Varicose veins are predominately hereditary but are also caused by pregnancy, a time when the normal volume of blood increases in a woman’s body. Dealing with this increase of blood can stress the veins, causing them to swell.
Unfortunately without actual medical intervention, you can’t get rid of varicose veins. Particularly during pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend that you wait until your pregnancy is over to evaluate the extent of your varicose vein problem. In addition to being unsightly and embarrassing for some moms due to how they look, varicose veins can also be uncomfortable. Doing a few small things can help to relieve some discomfort.
The best and most important thing you can do for your veins is consult a medical professional. Having your veins looked at, possibly even with an ultrasound, can ensure that you’re not in the dangerous category of varicose veins. Don’t let yourself suffer in silence just because varicose veins don’t seem dangerous. There are many factors which can increase or diminish your risk level. Previous pregnancies, age, high BMI as well as many other factors are important and your medical professional should be alerted in order to help you properly. Treatment and monitoring can extend to post-birth so alerting your medical professional early can help everyone plan for a safe birth as well as post-birth period.
Don’t be afraid of movement
As long as your doctor hasn’t told you to, don’t stop moving just because you have varicose veins. Many types of exercise are actually beneficial to relieving varicose veins. Running is a high-impact exercise that is not necessarily off-limits when on have varicose veins but you’ll want to make sure that you have good shoes and avoid running on hard surfaces. Try hitting your local trail instead of pounding on the pavement. Walking is an even better choice as it is a low-impact activity that still gets your blood flowing.
Get those puppies up!
Make sure you take time out of every day to elevate your feet and legs. Letting your blood flow in the opposite direction without having to work as hard is a great relief for varicose veins. Switch up your seating situation at work or at home so you can rest your feet up high whenever possible. Go for short walks around the office every hour or so and at night, you could try the yoga position informally known as “legs up the wall” (Viparita Karani for all you serious, sanskrit-loving yogis out there).
Start by sitting close to the wall (leave a few inches of space if you’d like). Slowly coming down onto your back, bring your legs up on the wall (to picture it, it’s like you’re sitting on the wall with your back against the floor). Allow yourself to stay in this position for a few minutes as you feel the blood travelling down your legs. You can start to feel your legs deflate and the soothing relief this position provides. After a few minutes, slowly bend your knees, bringing your legs back down and then slowly come down to your left side and then slowly away from the wall. After 30 weeks, you can also place a rolled up blanket under your lower back to alleviate any pressure on the lower back.
Compress it baby!
The best (but most uncomfortable) thing to do for varicose veins is invest in some sweet compression socks. You can buy these in almost any pharmacy or department store or get a prescription for your doctor for some heavy-duty socks and tights. Compression socks help keep your swelling to a minimum and also assists your veins all day long to keep your blood moving. While it’s not the most attractive thing you could wear, it certainly is the most effective way to combat varicose veins. Thankfully, it won’t last forever. Eventually you’ll get to trade them in for an adorable, cuddly newborn baby!