3 Ways to combat varicose veins during pregnancy

Jul 11, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. ET

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Varicose veins are those pesky, swollen, blue and purple veins that are most noticeable near the surface of the skin, and are most often present in the legs. For many women, pregnancy is the first time they experience varicose veins; those who already have them may find that they get even worse when they're pregnant. Here's why: The primary function of your veins is to return blood to your heart, with the veins in your legs carrying the additional burden of fighting gravity. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases, putting an even greater load on your veins. Your progesterone levels also increase during pregnancy, relaxing the walls of your blood vessels and making them more likely to swell.

But it's not all bad; if you're worried about varicose veins during pregnancy, here are three simple ways you can fight them.

1. Keep up with exercise

It's important to maintain a daily exercise routine to assist with circulation. Exercising can alleviate excess pressure on your veins, which can help to minimize or prevent the appearance of varicose veins.

2. Wear the right outfit

Wearing tight clothes, such as socks that bind at the ankles or undergarments that bind the top of the thigh, can increase your chances of developing varicose veins by hindering circulation. Be sure to wear clothing that fits properly to minimize risk.

3. Put your feet up

Standing puts added pressure on your feet and legs, and can increase the likelihood of varicose veins. So try to limit standing for long periods of time without taking a rest. When you are sitting, it's OK to put your feet up; keeping your feet and legs elevated whenever possible will also alleviate pressure on your veins.

They're not pretty to look at, but the good news is that varicose veins are typically harmless. If your varicose veins still cause you discomfort or if you are unhappy with their appearance, there are a variety of treatment options available. Speak with your medical provider if you are concerned about your varicosities and to determine which intervention is best suited for you.

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