The hormonal impact
Pregnancy is a very special time for women. The pregnancy hormones and the growing child-bearing uterus have effects on the veins of the mother-to-be. In fact, 30 percent of women pregnant for the first time and 55 percent of women who have had two or more full-term pregnancies develop varicose veins.
Consequently, many experience common symptoms such as heavy, tired, aching legs and swollen feet and ankles. Varicose veins may also develop. They often appear around the fourth month of pregnancy and regress usually after the baby is born.
During pregnancy, spider veins and varicose veins tend to get worse and may become painful, warm, and take a purple color. Cramps occur more often and are painful.
The risks of complications like phlebitis and trombophlebitis are increased. DVT is the most common complication during pregnancy.
There are several reasons for these conditions, including the following:
- increase of blood volume
- loss of venous walls tonicity
- pressure increase in the leg veins, caused by the position of the baby
- change of blood consistency increasing the risk of blood clot formation
Special attention and care should be taken to avoid leg discomfort and prevent complications. The risks of venous disorders during pregnancy are further increased if the following factors are present:
- history of venous disease in the family
- pre-existing venous condition
- multiple pregnancies
- prolonged sitting or standing.
Seek your doctor's advice regarding preventive measures to reduce the risk of venous disorders during pregnancy.
Tips for pregnant women:
- Avoid prolonged standing or sitting
- Elevate your feet and legs
- Avoid exposure to hot temperatures (hot baths, saunas, sunbathing)
- Move, walk, swim, bike
- Refresh your legs with a cooling shower
- Wear medical compression stockings
Graduated compression is the most effective in preventing edema or swelling, and in promoting better blood circulation. Wearing compression stockings during pregnancy prevents blood from pooling in the veins and reduces the increase of an elevated heart rate in both mother and child. Additionally, compression stockings may reduce the risk of varicose veins, phlebitis, and thrombosis. Compression therapy also alleviates many common symptoms such as swollen feet and ankles, or tired and achy legs.
Benefits of compression
Graduated compression hosiery is the most effective in preventing edema or swelling. It also alleviates leg pain and heaviness and contributes to prevent spider veins or varicose veins. When using compression hosiery, the compression should be graduated, with the strongest pressure at the ankles and decreasing as it goes up the leg.
Clinical studies prove that graduated compression stockings are beneficial and should be a mainstay in relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency during pregnancy and the post partum period.*
When you discover the benefits and comfort of compression stockings during pregnancy, you may want to continue wearing them for years after, and your legs will thank you for their improved health.