One of the most common causes of varicose veins is pregnancy. With the stress that a woman’s body goes through while carrying a developing child, symptoms of what that stress does to her body become evident in things such as varicose veins.

When a woman is pregnant, her body creates an additional volume of blood. This is absolutely necessary to support her and the fetus, but it puts an enormous amount of pressure on her blood vessels. The fetus itself puts physical pressure on the inferior vena cava—the large vein on the right side of the body—as well as the smaller blood vessels that the expanding uterus is feeding from and sitting on.

Add the additional progesterone that her body produces, a hormone which causes the walls of blood vessels to relax, to the extra blood volume, the physical pressure and the gravity that blood already has to fight against in order to travel up the leg. The result?

Varicose veins.

Treatment Options

After giving birth, many women see a clear decrease in their pregnancy-related varicose veins. There are measures that can be taken to help minimize the chances of them. Wearing compression stockings helps the calf valve push blood back up against the pull of gravity. Daily exercise improves circulation, and avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time will keep the blood moving. If you’re sitting or lying down, keeping your feet and legs elevated helps push the blood naturally back towards the heart.

Having varicose veins medically or surgically treated is not recommended during pregnancy. A woman’s body is undergoing enough physical stress. Additional stressors such as unnecessary cosmetic surgery can endanger both her life and the unborn child’s. Once the baby is born, then a mother can consult with us here at the UNM Vein & Cosmetic Center for advice on what steps to take next.