Varicose Veins in Pregnancy

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Varicose veins can be brought on by pregnancy. This sometimes occurs if you have a family history of varicose veins, if you already have damage to the veins, and if you are overweight. Varicose veins are not usually a danger to your pregnancy, and will normally improve after you have given birth.

What Causes Varicose Veins in Pregnancy?

Having a baby puts more pressure on your veins. This occurs because of several factors. As your baby grows, your uterus puts more weight on the veins in your pelvic area. This means that they have to work much harder to force your blood upwards into your heart. As a result of this, the wall of the vein weakens and stretches causing a widening of the blood vessel. Once this occurs blood begins to flow backwards through the valves causing swelling in the widened parts of your veins.

Another contributing factor is the changes in your body’s hormones as you go through pregnancy. Hormones such as progesterone are thought to relax the walls of your veins. This allows them to balloon causing weakness in the valves and allowing backflow.

Varicose veins also occur during pregnancy because of the extra blood that your body produces to care for your baby. This excess blood increases the pressure in your veins, which causes them to lose their elasticity and stretch. Once this happens, the valves can no longer prevent your blood from flowing backwards creating a build up in the weakened areas of your veins.

Do Varicose Veins put you or Your Baby at Risk?

It is unlikely that your varicose veins will cause any serious problems although there are some complications for which you should look out. If your varicose veins are under the skin between your vagina and anus (the perineum), they need to be carefully monitored as you give birth. If your perineum tears during childbirth and you have varicose veins in that area, it can cause heavy bleeding. There are certain birthing positions that can limit the chances of this by relieving the pressure on the area. You will be advised of these positions during your pregnancy.

Both pregnancy and varicose veins increase your chances of developing a blood clot and deep vein thrombosis. This is a serious complication but is also very rare. You should be aware of the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, which include:

  • Pain and swelling in the legs
  • Heavy aching
  • Skin heat
  • Skin redness
  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pain
  • Collapsing

If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms before, during, or after childbirth, you should inform someone straight away, so that they can check that you do not have deep vein thrombosis.

Varicose veins do not pose any risk to your baby.

Are Varicose Veins from Pregnancy Permanent?

Most of the time varicose veins, which develop in pregnancy, will go away without treatment after you have given birth. In other cases, they may not completely disappear but will improve in appearance.

If your varicose veins do not go away after childbirth and are causing you discomfort you may be able to get them treated on the NHS. If they are not seen to be a medical problem but you, still want treatment you will have to pay for cosmetic surgery.

Varicose veins are likely to reappear and worsen with subsequent pregnancies. Therefore, if you plan to have more children it may be worth waiting until you have had all the children that you want before getting treatment for your varicose veins.

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