Pregnancy can bring about all kinds of discomforts and those nine months can be very challenging whether it be because of heartburn, nausea or varicose veins. Some women experience some of these symptoms. Other women don’t experience any. Varicose veins are something that can present themselves at any point in a pregnancy. No woman is safe from potential varicose veins.
- Most pregnant women get tired easily. It is important that you get up periodically instead of sitting in one spot for a long period of time. Stretch your legs and get that blood moving.
- There are certain positions that prevent proper circulation in your legs. You will want to avoid these positions. This can include crossing your legs for a long period of time.
- Elevate your legs while you are sitting down. This will not only help prevent swollen feet and ankles. It will also assist with the overall level of circulation in your legs and body.
- Exercise should be modified while you are pregnant, but exercise is still a very beneficial activity to do when you are pregnant. Go for a brisk walk, do some pregnancy-safe exercises and try something like yoga.
- Compression stockings are something that can be worn during your pregnancy to assist with circulation issues. Before you go out and buy a pair you may want to consult your doctor. There are different levels of compression and you want to make sure that you pick a level that is safe for you.
Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant have a five-fold risk of developing varicose veins. Women who are not pregnant tend to have a healthier level of circulation which will prevent them from developing this condition. The higher blood volume during pregnancy can affect what is going on in your body. By around the 16 week mark during a pregnancy the blood volume in the body will double. This puts a great deal of strain on the heart and body that otherwise wouldn’t be an issue. Higher progesterone levels make the veins more stretchy than normal. There are veins within the uterus that may become obstructed because of an enlarging uterus during pregnancy. This decreases blood flow down to the legs.
Preventing Varicose Veins Using Compression
A recent study was completed that focused on the benefits of using compression stockings during pregnancy as a way of preventing varicose veins. This randomised trial determined that women who did not use any compression stockings during their pregnancy were three times more likely to develop varicose veins at some point during their pregnancy. Presented by Dragan Milic at the European Venous Forum in Athens Greece, information provided showed promising results for prevention of pregnancy related varicose veins.
What Participants Endured
During this study the participants were pregnant women around the age of 25. Each woman was given compression stockings that were chosen based on their size and stature. The 146 participants were broken down in to three different groups. Group A was given class 1, thigh high elastic stockings with a compression of 17-20mm Hg. Group B was given class 2, thigh high elastic stockings with a compression of 20-25mm Hg. Group C received no compression therapy as they acted as the control group. The women began the study between 6 to 10 weeks gestation. All of the participants were instructed to wear the stockings throughout each day until they delivered their babies. Every four months the compression stockings were changed out to a new pair. They can become loose over time. This occurs when they are worn on a daily basis. The pregnant women were required to be free of any varicose veins prior to starting the study. This was determined by doing a thorough history that ruled out any genetic venous disorders and a duplex vein scan.
The Results of the Study
There was only one patient in this study that developed a blood clot in the leg during this study. Varicose veins showed up in 14 of the women that participated from group A. Three people from Group B developed varicose veins. Remember that there were 146 patients that participated. The statistics from this study determined that a two- to three-fold reduction in varicose veins was presented when wearing compression stockings. There was a drop out rate to consider. At the very end of the trial there were only 121 women that completed the program. The problem was women not wanting to use the compression stockings on a daily basis. Depending on the product, it might be difficult to use these stockings all the time during pregnancy. They can be difficult to put on if they are extremely tight. This can be an issue for a very pregnant woman that is having trouble reaching her feet and pulling her socks on. There is also the issue of wearing compression stockings with certain outfits. They don’t necessarily look nice with work-wear or a dress. For women that want to utilise compression garments during their pregnancy, there are many different brands that offer coloured and patterned compression-wear. Many times you don’t even know that a pair of socks are compression-gear.
In this study the product that was used was a thigh-high compression stocking. There are compression stockings that only go up to the knee. This might be a much more comfortable option for a pregnant woman. A thigh-high product can make a person feel overheated. Not to mention that they can be quite uncomfortable. Many women are uncomfortable as it is when they are pregnant. You can discuss your compression options with your doctor moving forward when you find out that you are pregnant. While you cannot guarantee that you will not develop varicose veins during your pregnancy, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of having a few of them pop up. It is always important to make sure that you eat healthy, rest when needed and stay active throughout your pregnancy. These things will help ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and reduce your risk of varicose veins. If you suspect there are any issues with your body during your pregnancy you can contact your doctor. You should have your varicose veins checked by a professional if they do present themselves. This will ensure that they are normal varicose veins that will not pose a problem moving forward in your pregnancy.
- Increased Risk of Varicose Veins from Pregnancy
- Pregnancy to Parenthood: How to Deal with Varicose Veins During and After Pregnancy
- Compression Stockings – NICE / NHS Guide
- Varicose Veins: Overcoming the Challenges Faced by Women
- Estrogen and Progesterone: The Double-Edged Sword for Women with Varicose Veins