Thread Veins During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a time of changes for your body, including a number of less than welcome physiological adjustments with widespread consequences. These include for example the appearance of thread veins, blood vessels that expand as a consequence of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and appear as blue and red webs on the skin.

What causes thread veins during pregnancy?

Thread veins can present as a result of pressure exerted on blood vessels by any number of factors. During pregnancy the growth of the unborn infant in the womb places a lot of this pressure on the lower body. Large veins work their way up from the legs and through the pelvis, and is these blood vessels upon which a pregnant belly takes its toll. These veins weaken as the baby grows and more weight is placed upon these veins, which expand as a result and become visible.

Gravity contributes as well and the lower legs take the brunt of the pressure, becoming the most likely site for thread veins. Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone in women that increases in quantity during pregnancy. This hormone causes veins to expand or swell, hence becoming more visible.

An important point to be made is that thread veins should not be confused with varicose veins, a condition brought about for similar reasons by pregnancy. The two appear quite different however, with varicose veins appearing as large knots of purple or dark blue just beneath your skin, these tend to be swollen and enlarged, and can also be quite sore or painful. Thread veins however tend to be fine as much smaller vessels are affected, appearing like webs and hence the common name ‘spider veins’. Thread veins usually cause no discomfort as only very fine blood vessels are affected, they do however have cosmetic implications that some people find distressing.

These conditions tend to develop during the third trimester, and their likelihood increases with each subsequent pregnancy as your veins weaken each time.

If either of these conditions present it is advisable to drop by and have a chat with your GP just to make sure everything is as it should be, but take comfort in the fact that typically the appearance of thread veins is quite a natural occurrence during pregnancy and has no serious health consequences.

What do I do about my pregnancy thread veins?

Pregnancy is a time when your confidence might not be at an all time high as your body goes through so many changes.  If you are worried about developing the condition then taking simple measures like raising your legs will help maintain the appearance of your legs and pelvic region. Lifting your feet so that they are above the level of your heart takes a remarkable amount of pressure off the vasculature of your lower body, giving your veins and capillaries much needed respite.

Maintaining a slim and healthy BMI (body mass index) whilst going into your pregnancy is also important, as is eating well during your pregnancy and getting in lots of invaluable vitamin K (found in leafy greens for example) associated with good skin health. Avoid standing too much, but maintain a reasonable level of exercise to keep your blood pumping as it should. Compression stocking are also recommended, particularly in later pregnancies as the risk of thread or varicose veins increase.

The good news is that your thread veins are likely to disappear within 3 months after delivery, if they don’t then a number of cosmetic treatments are available to clear them up.

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