Varicose Veins

It's common to get varicose veins during pregnancy. Your mother may have gotten them, too. They're usually hereditary. Pregnancy hormones may cause the walls of your veins to weaken and swell. Pressure on the veins behind your uterus also slows the circulation of blood to your heart, making the smaller veins in your pelvis and legs swell. You're most likely to get these bluish, swollen veins in your legs. But in late pregnancy, they may appear in your vulva, the area outside your vagina. Varicose veins in your rectum, called hemorrhoids, are also common. Varicose veins will probably get better after your baby is born, when pressure on your veins goes away.

Call Doctor If:

  • The veins feel hard, warm, or painful.
  • The skin over the veins looks red.

Step-by-Step Care:

  • Avoid standing or sitting for a long time. Take breaks to move around.
  • Don't sit with your legs crossed. This can reduce circulation in your legs.
  • Sit with your legs and feet raised.
  • Exercise regularly for good circulation, with your doctor's OK.
  • Wear maternity support hose. These gently compress your lower leg veins to help move blood back to your heart.
  • Avoid tight socks or knee-highs that squeeze a spot on your leg. This can slow circulation.
  • Sleep on your left side to ease pressure on the vein that carries blood from your feet to your heart. It's on your right side.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on July 15, 2014

Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "Coping With the Physical Changes and Discomforts of Pregnancy."

Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health: "Pregnancy: Body Changes and Discomforts."

Nemours Foundation: "Questions & Answers."

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Changes in Your Body During Pregnancy: The Third Trimester."

Vein Directory: "Varicose Veins in Pregnancy."

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.