The below tips may help to prevent varicose veins from forming if implemented early in pregnancy:
- Lead active lifestyle with exercises or brisk walking (stimulation of calf muscle pump).
- Keep legs elevated while long sitting or sleeping, as it gives your veins a break and releases the pressure that is on them.
- Lie on your left side keeping your legs elevated. This prevents the fetus from pressing on the leg veins and decreases the chance of developing varicosities.
- Avoid standing for prolonged periods.
- Don’t cross your legs when sitting down.
- Wear elastic stockings when long sitting or standing.
- Maintain healthy weight as varicose veins are more common in obese individuals.
- Avoid tight clothing that can compress the waist or groin.
- Eat a low-salt diet as salt does retain water causing your legs to swell up.
What complications can I expect if varicose veins are left untreated?
Varicose veins in pregnant women usually worsen with each pregnancy, as do the symptoms of pain, throbbing, heaviness, tiredness and itching of the leg. Pregnant women have a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism due to abnormal clotting, reduced blood flow and damage to the veins that may lead to serious and even life-threatening conditions. Women who are obese, older than 35, or have personal or family history are more prone to develop blood clots. After delivery the risk is higher than during pregnancy and returns to normal after a few weeks after delivery. During pregnancy women with prominent and enlarged superficial veins can develop superficial phlebitis, a condition where a clot is present in the vein, the varicose veins are inflamed and tender, and the overlying skin becomes red.
It is different to and much less serious than deep venous thrombosis. Varicose veins may also be associated with bleeding, and due to high blood pressure in the venous system, the bleeding can be profuse. At rare cases venous ulcers, predominantly at the ankle site, may form when the veins do not drain properly, high blood pressure builds up, damaging the skin which then breaks down into an ulcer. Venous eczema may be present due to the leakage of small amount of blood from the veins into the skin causing redness, dryness and itchiness. If you develop any of these complications during pregnancy you should seek urgent medical advice from you vein expert. Most people with varicose veins however do not develop complications. The size of the varicose vein is not related to complications but the duration of the varicose vein is.
What kind of treatment should I seek for my varicose veins?
If a woman has varicose veins and desires to have children, she would be advised to have the varicose veins treated first with use of cutting-edge minimally invasive techniques before getting pregnant. If a woman with varicose veins finds herself pregnant, she should begin daily wearing the compression pantyhose plus take adequate preventive measures as soon as possible. If varicose veins first develop with a pregnancy, conservative therapy, which includes daily use of compression stockings, exercise, and legs elevation whenever possible, should be followed. Then the varicose vein problem should be addressed between pregnancies to avoid future difficulties and complications.