Varicose Veins and Pregnancy

With all the changes that a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy, varicose veins might seem like just one more in a long list of sacrifices. But understanding the cause of these veins and what you can do to prevent or minimize them, can go a long way in alleviating the pain and discomfort they cause.


Varicose veins are swollen veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin and are most likely to show up in your legs, although it is possible for them to appear elsewhere. They may make your legs feel heavy, achy, and the nearby skin may itch, throb, or burn.

While varicose veins are already more common among women than men, family history plays a role as well as pregnancy. In fact, they can become more common with each successive pregnancy and as you get older. Being overweight, carrying twins, and standing for long periods can also make you more susceptible.

Veins are blood vessels that return blood from your extremities to your heart, so the blood in your leg veins are already working against gravity. When you are pregnant, the amount of blood in your body increases, adding to the burden on your veins.

And while varicose veins tend to improve after pregnancy, you don’t have to suffer from their discomfort for nine months. There are measures you can take that will minimize or possibly prevent them from occurring altogether.


-- Exercise daily. Even going for a walk around the block will help your circulation.

-- Avoid excess weight gain. While gaining weight is healthy during a pregnancy, try to stay within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.

-- Elevate your feet. When you’re sitting, use a box or stool to rest your legs, and keep your feet elevated with a pillow when you are lying down.

-- Take breaks. If you have to sit or stand for long periods of time, be sure to take regular breaks and move around.

-- Sleep on your left side. Wedge a pillow behind your back to keep yourself titled to the left and elevate your feet with a pillow. Lying on your left side relieves the inferior vena cava vein, which is on your right side, of the weight of the uterus.

-- Wear special support hose. Compression socks are twice as thick as pantyhose. The graduated compression socks are even better as they are tight at the ankle and get looser as they go up the leg. This makes it easier for blood to flow back up toward your heart.

As I discussed in last month’s column, varicose veins are not merely a cosmetic issue. They can be painful and can pose a danger to your health. With all the other discomforts that may come with pregnancy, you don’t need to add one more to the list if there are things you can do about it.

If you want to discuss further vein treatment or make an appointment, please contact us at 760-944-9263 or visit us at