Pregnancy is a very special time for women. The pregnancy hormones and the growing child-bearing uterus have effects on the veins of the mother-to-be. In fact, 30 percent of women pregnant for the first time and 55 percent of women who have had two or more full-term pregnancies develop varicose veins. Consequently, many experience common symptoms such as heavy, tired, aching legs and swollen feet and ankles. Varicose veins may also develop. They often appear around the fourth month of pregnancy and regress usually after the baby is born.

During pregnancy, spider veins and varicose veins tend to get worse and may become painful, warm, and take a purple color. Crampings in the legs occur more often and are painful.

The risks of complications like phlebitis and trombophlebitis are increased. Deep Vein Thrombosis is the most common complication during pregnancy.

There are several reasons for these conditions, including the following :

  • increase of blood volume
  • loss of venous wall tonicity
  • pressure increase in the leg veins, caused by the position of the baby
  • change of blood consistency increasing the risk of blood clot formation

Special attention and care should be taken to avoid leg discomfort and prevent complications.
The risks of venous disorders during pregnancy are further increased if the following factors are present :

  • history of venous disease in the family
  • pre-existing venous condition
  • multiple pregnancies
  • prolonged sitting or standing.
Tips for pregnant women:
  • Avoid prolonged standing or sitting
  • Elevate your feet and legs
  • Avoid exposure to hot temperatures (hot baths, saunas, sunbathing)
  • Move, walk, swim, bike
  • Refresh your legs with a coo shower
  • Wear medical compression stockings
Benefits of compression therapy

Graduated compression hosiery is the most effective way to prevent edema or swelling. It also alleviates leg pain and heaviness and contributes to prevent spider veins or varicose veins. When using compression hosiery, the compression should be graduated, with the strongest pressure at the ankles and decreasing as it goes up the leg. Clinical studies show that graduated compression stockings are beneficial and should be a mainstay in relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency during pregnancy and the post partum period.1 When you discover the benefits and comfort of compression stockings during pregnancy, you may want to continue wearing them for years after, and your legs will thank you for their improved health.

1) Büchtemann AS, et al. – Br J Obstet Gynaecol. – 1999 June;106(6):563-9 – The effect of compression therapy in venous haemodynamics in pregnant women.

Pregnancy: Solution

Graduated compression is the most effective in preventing oedema or swelling, and in promoting better blood circulation. Wearing compression stockings during pregnancy prevents blood from pooling in the veins and reduces the increase of an elevated heart rate in both mother and child. Additionally, compression stockings may reduce the risk of varicose veins, phlebitis, and thrombosis. Compression therapy also alleviates many common symptoms such as swollen feet and ankles, or tired and achy legs.

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Yes, your risk of developing an ulcer is elevated. The vessels’ functioning is so disturbed that there is stasis. Then edema appears and your skin aspect changes – at first a color change, then it itches and eczema appears. As time passes, your skin hardens. A small wound or an inflammation due to a mosquito bite are enough to cause deterioration to your skin. An ulcer forms. These changes appear gradually and can in most cases be resolved with treatment.

No, as the risk factors like genetic predisposition and higher age cannot be treated. But you can prevent symptoms and also signs of chronic venous insufficiency if you have varicose veins. Keep moving! Use the staircase rather than the elevator. Practice a sport that stimulates your venous system like cycling, swimming, or walking. Raise your legs and move as often as possible. It is also recommended to shower your legs with cold water and to wear compression socks or stockings.