Stretch marks are a common cause for concern among pregnant women, but those pesky white lines are not the only body changes a woman’s body endures while expecting. Varicose veins, which refer to the bluish-purple, highly pronounced veins generally in the legs, are commonly exacerbated by pregnancy.
Why does pregnancy accelerate varicose vein formation? They’re a common nuisance—over half of women report having them—and there are genetic predispositions that make one woman more likely to develop them than another. Inheriting weak vein walls adds to the likelihood of an individual having varicose veins.
Because the baby derives its blood supply directly from the mother, a woman’s heart has to work much harder to pump blood throughout her own body and her baby’s. Even the extra pelvic pressure a woman experiences as her womb expands adds to her newly-bulging veins. To top it off, the hormone progesterone (which plays a major role in a woman’s pregnancy development) naturally dilates the veins which causes extra discomfort as blood pools.
What can you do to slow down the progression of your varicose veins? Try wearing compression hose specially designed to constrict blood flow. These pregnancy tights will combat the swelling you experience in your legs. Getting regular exercise and keeping your legs elevated when you can have also been proven to work against varicose vein development. If you experience extreme, uncomfortable swelling, be sure to let your doctor know—he or she might prescribe antibiotics to help ease your pain. Applying warm compresses to particularly sore spots might provide some at-home relief as well.
Stay healthy, moms-to-be!