Pregnancy: Varicose Veins - Topic Overview
Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen veins that are
caused by faulty valves in the veins or weak vein walls. They are common during
pregnancy, particularly in women with a family history of the problem.
veins typically develop on the legs but can also affect the
vulva. Though varicose veins are often only a cosmetic
concern, they can become painful. In severe cases, they can bleed.
During pregnancy, the growing uterus puts more pressure on the veins
that return blood from the legs, and it becomes harder for blood to
leave the legs. (The extra weight of multiple fetuses puts an even greater
burden on the deep veins in the legs.) This can lead to pooled blood that
causes one or more veins to swell.
If you or other women in your family have had varicose veins, use
preventive and treatment measures that are safe during pregnancy.
- Avoid prolonged standing and
- Lie on your side as much as possible. This takes the
pressure off your leg veins, allowing normal blood flow.
your legs whenever possible. Gravity helps with blood return from your
- Wear compression stockings. Specially fitted compression
stockings are designed to help prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
- Get regular exercise to improve your blood
Only in severe cases are varicose veins treated with surgery or
injected medicine during pregnancy.
After pregnancy, varicose veins do not always return to their