Varicose veins: what are they?

Varicose veins: what are they?

Varicose veinsVaricose veins are lumpy, raised veins that can be blue, purplish, or angry red in colour. The first time you see them appear you’ll probably want to cry – although to be fair, if you’re pregnant most things probably have you in tears right now!

They typically appear on the legs, groin, and rectum (commonly known as haemorrhoids or piles). They usually develop in the second trimester and tend to get worse in the final weeks of pregnancy. Varicose veins are caused by:

  • The increased pressure your growing uterus places on the veins in your legs and pelvis
  • The 50 percent increase in blood volume in your body
  • Your genes (cheers, Mum)

For some women, varicose veins are merely unsightly, but many mums-to-be find them painful. Either way, don’t despair – they usually disappear within a few weeks of giving birth. In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to prevent them and ease the pain.

What you can do

Put your feet up – (as if you needed an excuse) at least 15 minutes every hour of every day and don’t cross your legs when sitting down.

Exercise – the more walking, swimming, and moderate exercise you do, the less likely you are to get varicose veins as it improves circulation.

Do your pelvic floor exercises – you should be doing these anyway, whenever you remember (best time: when stuck in traffic) as they boost blood flow to the rectum and vulva, decreasing the likelihood of varicose veins.

Wear loose clothing – so as not to constrict blood flow. Many experts also recommend wearing maternity stockings to boost your leg circulation.

Now tell us what worked for you…

Did you get varicose veins during your pregnancy? How did you cope?

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