Experiencing swollen legs with bulging veins is a common, and uncomfortable part of pregnancy. Hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy can impede the blood’s upward journey to the heart, which can cause varicose or spider veins. If you’re beginning to experience painful, unsightly veins in your legs now that you’re expecting a new bundle of joy, here are a few effective tips to help you alleviate your discomfort.

Your changing body during pregnancy

The maternal vascular system undergoes extensive changes during pregnancy. To accommodate the growing fetus, an expectant mother’s blood volume increases by as much as 30 to 50 percent, which can stress the circulatory system. Your burgeoning uterus presses on and partially blocks the veins that are returning blood from your lower extremities to the heart. Additionally, hormonal changes from increased progesterone levels relax the walls of your blood vessels. These factors combine to cause valves to bend and trap blood in your veins, which can result in varicose or spider veins during pregnancy.

How can I help ease the pain of varicose veins?

Fortunately, pregnancy-related vein conditions usually disappear within three months to a year after giving birth. In the meantime, several simple home remedies can help ease pain related to varicose or spider veins. Moms-to-be can elevate their legs when sitting or lying down, maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and wear compression stockings, which may help prevent blood from pooling in the veins. Exercising safely and regularly also can improve circulation.

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Long-term solutions for painful veins

If you’re still dealing with painful veins after your pregnancy, it is important to see a vein specialist to get a comprehensive evaluation. A vein specialist will be able to determine if vein treatment could be a good, long-term solution for your leg pain. Even though many women see a decrease in visible veins and swelling postpartum, other women may still experience leg cramping or pain that can only be solved by treating the root cause: underlying vein disease.

For more ways you can relieve the strain on your veins while pregnant, see the accompanying infographic.

Graphic created by USA Vein Clinic, a spider vein treatment clinic.

Dr. Yan Katsnelson is the founder of USA Vein Clinics, the largest, national network of vein treatment centers committed to improving lives through minimally invasive treatments of venous insufficiency. USA Vein Clinics specializes in the treatment of varicose veins and spider veins through endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), ClariVein, Varithena vein treatment, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, and sclerotherapy injections.

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