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Pregnancy is a major risk factor for developing varicose veins. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, let’s look at pregnancy’s effect on the veins as well as what steps pregnant women can take to lessen the effects of varicose veins.
When a woman is pregnant, the body increases blood volume by about 30%. Blood speed also increases as blood returns from the legs to the pelvis. This results in increased pressure on the veins. Hormones also play a role in the development of varicose veins. When pregnant, the body produces higher levels of progesterone which causes the veins to be more elastic and dilated, allowing more blood to flow.
While you can’t control the changes in circulation or the boost in hormones during pregnancy, there are some steps women can take to decrease the severity of varicose vein symptoms:
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When you have a moment to rest, promote circulation by elevating your legs higher than your heart. Even when sleeping, you could prop your legs up with a few pillows.
3. Changing Position
Standing for extended periods of time (as well as prolonged sitting), can make symptoms worse. Mix up your daily routine by taking frequent walks or sitting breaks so that you are changing positions throughout the day. There is increased abdominal pressure from the expanding uterus, and this can cause a physiologic obstruction. If you spend much of the day sitting, it is helpful to get up hourly and take a short walk.
The calf muscle is the only active pump to return blood to the heart. Make daily exercise a part of your routine. Exercise is an important part of maintaining good health and limiting unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy.
5. Monitoring Weight
Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy, and a significant weight gain in a short period time takes a toll on your veins. Try to stay within your doctor’s recommendations for a healthy weight during pregnancy.
6. Slash the Salt
Watch salt intake, and be sure to stay hydrated. Remember that salt hides in unsuspecting places—frozen meals, sauces, dressings and canned foods can all contain high amounts of sodium. It’s important to prevent dehydration, especially with high levels of progesterone in the body, as these two factors can increase the risk of blood clots.
7. Embrace Side-Sleeping
Sleeping on the left side of the body alleviates pressure on the vena cava, the large vein which carries blood to the heart. This allows blood to flow more normally through the uterus and pelvic regions.
If you suffer from tired, achy legs or other varicose vein symptoms, you should know AVLC offers virtually pain-free treatments for your venous conditions. We provide minimally-invasive options to treat you in the comfort of our facility—walk-in, walk-out. Contact the York or Lancaster office for a free ultrasound screening to see if your leg discomfort could be caused by varicose veins.
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