Varicose veins during pregnancy

Varicose veins during pregnancy

Varicose veins treatment during pregnancy

Varicose veins are a common vascular disease that most pregnant women suffer from. Varicose veins can appear on the legs as well as on the small pelvis. It is quite often that varicose veins appear in the genitals of a pregnant woman.

Therefore phlebologists and vascular surgeons distinguish three types of varicose veins during pregnancy:

  1. varicose veins of lower limbs;
  2. small pelvic varicose veins;
  3. transformation of veins in the vulva and vagina.

Varicose veins affect severely the quality of life of pregnant women, cause pregnancy complications, result in such complications and consequences as small pelvic varicose veins, phlebitis, thrombosis, bleeding during childbirth.

Every woman who is getting ready to become a mother and who has been suffering from varicose veins before pregnancy, has to go see a doctor and get tips and recommendations for the treatment.

Causes of varicose veins appearance

It is scientifically proven that women are genetically predisposed to varicose veins three times more often than men. A daughter inherits varicose veins from her mother.

Pregnancy and varicose veins are closely connected for different reasons:

  1. The pressure in the arteries and veins is increased. Venous trunks of abdomen become overloaded, and in order to bring blood back to the heart, veins of the lower part of the body are struggling with unusually high pressure.
  2. During pregnancy venous system is under great pressure because of the increasing volume of circulating blood. Usually the volume of blood flow of a woman increases by four, especially during the first two months of pregnancy. Then it grows by two during the third month.
  3. During pregnancy the level of hormones grows dramatically which results in relaxation of muscular vein walls. This leads to pathological enlargement of venous clearance, and venous valves cannot close completely. Blood is pooling in the enlarged capillaries, vein wall permeability increases.
  4. Another provoking factor is a sedentary lifestyle. Pregnant women spend most of their time in a horizontal position, and move little. Blood stagnates in the veins which results in enlarged veins and vessels.

Slow venous return in the lower limbs during pregnancy is caused by two things. First is the pressure of an enlarged uterus on the vessels.
Second is that the blood flow from a pregnant uterus is increased almost by 20. It results in overloaded iliac veins to which veins bringing blood from uterus flow. They cannot provide an accurate blood return from lower limbs.

20% of pregnant women suffer from the enlargement of vessels in the lower limbs along with varicose veins in the vagina. This adds complications to the pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth recovery causing venous stagnation in the small pelvis. Besides varicose veins develop in the rectum (hemorrhoids).

When straining during defecation the pressure in small pelvic veins increases, varicose nodes of vagina and rectum may break. Bleeding can occur. Constant blood loss even of small amounts lead to woman’s anemia and indirectly affects fetal development. Hormonal factor start affecting vein wall in the first trimester of pregnancy. Starting from the second trimester the enlargement of pregnant uterus causes intraperitoneal and venous pressure in the lower limbs and small pelvis.

Risk factors of varicose veins are: age, number of pregnancies, genetic predisposition.


Symptoms of varicose veins in pregnant womenClinical manifestations of varicose veins during pregnancy are characterized by different factors and symptoms. A tracery of enlarged cutaneous veins appear on the entire extremity or on its separate parts. Women usually complain about the fact of having enlarged veins and less often – about the feeling of heaviness in one or two legs.

Quite often a big subcutaneous vein in the shin or thigh dilate, less often – on the entire lower extremity. Continuous prominent varicose nodes appear on the inner surface of the leg. Usually one leg is affected.

Cramps in the ankles, leg swellings and telangiectasia (spider veins) can also appear.

Treatment and prevention of varicose veins during pregnancy

If varicose veins appear during pregnancy, treatment and prevention methods should be performed strictly under a doctor’s control. It is important to understand that any methods of self-treatment can be harmful to the mother as well as to the fetus.

Surgical treatment is not recommended during pregnancy. It is better to postpone the surgery to after childbirth.

Main methods of treatment and prevention:

  1. Wearing therapeutic compression garments. These garments are able to distribute the right pressure on the veins in the lower limbs. You should put on the garments in a horizontal position, lying on the bed, only after that you can get up and walk. You should wear these stockings or knee socks during the whole day. You can take them of at night, before going to bed.
  2. It is a phlebologist who will help to choose the right level of compression. You should take medications only after a consultation with the doctor. Usually, doctors prescribe venotonics.
  3. You should monitor your bowel movements. Constipations can cause increased pressure on the veins that leads to the enlargement of vessels and capillaries.
  4. Physically demanding activities that can cause a great load on the veins are forbidden. Do not lift weights, do not wash clothes in a bent position, avoid sitting on your hunkers.
  5. Hiking in the fresh air.
  6. Therapeutic gymnastics for pregnant women. Do special exercises, that help to normalize the blood flow in the lower limbs.
    ⁃ Sitting on a chair inhale and get up, exhale and sit down. Repeat several times.
    ⁃ In a sitting position move your feet in a circular motion, keeping your heels on the floor.
    ⁃ Stand on your toes and stretch up for several seconds, slowly go down. Repeat 10 times.
  7. It is good for your health to swim in the pool at least once a week.
  8. Cold and hot shower for legs. Put a trickle of water on your legs alternating cool and warm water. Completely exclude hot baths.
  9. When you rest, try to hold your legs raised a little. You can put a roller under your legs. If you sat into an armchair you better put your legs on a chair or a special stand. This position will help to normalize blood return.
  10. Always alternate the position of your body. Remind the position, if I was sitting then now I’ll have to lie down. If I was lying , now I have to stand. With that avoid prolonged sitting or standing.
  11. Watch your legs’ position when you are sitting. Don’t cross or throw a leg over another. Make sure the lower part of the thigh doesn’t push the edge of the chair. Put a soft cushion under your stomach and try to lie more on your left side. Thus you will lower the pressure on the veins in the vagina. Exclude tight and uncomfortable shoes.
  12. High heels are forbidden. Take away all tight clothes from your wardrobe. Tight jeans and clothes with tight elastics. Weight control. Overweight caused by overeating causes a big load on veins.
  13. Healthy eating. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Lower the amount of salt in products. Avoid your body to be oversaturated with water.

Varicose veins are not contraindication for natural childbirth. A woman should give birth wearing compression stockings to avoid thrombosis of deep veins. If you have varicose veins in the genitals, you should better avoid vertical position and exclude strenuous efforts.

Pregnant women developing varicose veins should see a phlebologist for the whole period to avoid complications.

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Varicose veins during pregnancy