Varicose veins and spider veins are among the unpleasant side effects of pregnancy. This is by no means just a cosmetic problem.
Causes of varicose veins and treatment options
Varicose veins cause heavy legs or pain, and can also cause phlebitis or thrombosis. Often, the venous insufficiency shows for the first time during pregnancy, already existing varicose or spider veins worsen in this time. Responsible for this are the effect of pregnancy hormones, the larger blood volume and the stress on the blood circulation through the growth of the baby and the uterus.
By the way, the symptoms have nothing to do with cramps. The term “spasm” meant in Middle High German originally “crooked” and thus describes exactly the disease: The affected blood vessels shimmer bluish red and tortured through the skin.
How do varicose veins and spider veins develop?
Healthy veins carry around 7,000 liters of blood back to the heart every day. Especially the leg muscles serve as a natural pump, which pushes the blood from the extremities back up. The venous valves prevent – similar to a check valve – that the blood flows back there with relaxed muscles.
When varices form, this natural mechanism no longer works unhindered. The venous valves “yell out,” the blood flows back and accumulates in the veins. If this congestion is just under the skin, it will be visible as a bluish-red, sometimes nodular discoloration.
However, varicose veins can also form in deeper tissue layers and then become visible in the ultrasound image. Contrary to previous assumptions, the onset of various – during pregnancy or for other reasons – does not play a significant role in a slightly older age.
The predisposition to inherit, prevention is possible only to a limited extent.
Unlike varicose veins, they have no disease value. Nevertheless, the examination by a vein specialist (phlebologists) is recommended in their occurrence, as they refer in part to previously unrecognized “real” varicose veins.
Varicose veins in pregnancy
In pregnant women, the veins under the skin are obvious. In the course of pregnancy, they become more and more bulging. Many pregnant women suffer from heavy legs, some of them have venous pain.
The reason for this lies in the interaction of several factors:
- During pregnancy, the cycle is tough work. By birth, the amount of blood of the expectant mother will have almost doubled. The veins are correspondingly stressed.
- The yellow-body hormone prostaglandin loosens the walls of the blood vessels.
- The growing uterus presses on the inferior vena cava, the so-called vena cava. It is the largest body vein and absorbs the blood from the lower extremities, parts of the pelvis and abdominal organs.
The development of varicose veins is thereby promoted. Family predispositions or obesity also affect here. Especially affected are the veins of the legs. However, blood clots can also form elsewhere – as hemorrhoids in the rectal area or the vulva.
Can varicose veins be prevented?
If there is a genetic predisposition to varices, they can only be presented to a limited extent. Nevertheless, it is worth trying to minimize the problems with it – what you can do for it is very simple:
- Daily exercise stimulates blood circulation. It is ideal if you opt for a gentle sports program during pregnancy – but also the regular walk around the block has a positive effect.
- Lifting the feet relieves heavy legs. A stool or a box under the desk help to relax your veins.
- Sleep on the left side, putting your feet up on a pillow. This position relieves the vena cava and the veins in the legs.
- Although supportive stockings (compression stockings) are not popular, they effectively support your veins. If you are already suffering from venous insufficiency, it is advisable to wear it in the morning and while lying down – this will prevent excess blood from accumulating in the legs.
- Avoid prolonged standing and sitting cross-legged.
- Weight gain during pregnancy is a sensitive issue – if you feel that you are over limits, you should consult with your doctor. True overweight promotes varicose veins and spider veins.
- Regular pelvic floor exercise is one of the best ways to prepare for childbirth and also helps prevent hemorrhoids.
Varicose veins, spider veins and pregnancy – what can happen?
Not too much from a medical point of view. Thrombosis or chronic circulatory disorders are unlikely in pregnancy varies.
You must go to the doctor immediately if the surface of varicose veins is a painful, reddened area, or you may also be suffering from fever, pain, or an accelerated heartbeat. These symptoms may be an indication of one dissolved blood clot or embolism – the blockage of a blood vessel – which in the worst case can lead to life-threatening conditions.
Operation of varicose veins – only after fulfilling a desire for children
Pregnancy varices and spider veins often disappear by themselves within the first three to four months after birth. If not, you can have the various operated on. However, the costs are not covered in full by all statutory health insurance companies.
Spider veins are a cosmetic problem and usually do not require specific treatment.
If your varicose veins do not cause severe discomfort or complications, you should consider surgery only if your desire for a baby is met.
During a subsequent pregnancy, new varices often arise, so that a previous operation brings only a temporary result. A process during pregnancy is prohibited for this reason and because of the general risk for mother and child on its own.
Treat varicose and spider veins with natural remedies
Varices and spider veins are excellent for treating with natural remedies.
Various plant extracts or ointments – for example from horse chestnut, yarrow, stinging nettle or St. John’s wort – get the blood circulation going. Comfrey, yarrow or plantain ointments can reduce swelling, relieve pain and stop bleeding.
Relevant: You should also discuss in advance with your doctor or midwife when using natural remedies.
Many midwives also offer acupuncture or shiatsu to improve blood circulation.
Another proven remedy for relieving the symptoms of venous insufficiency is aromatherapy in the form of massages and compresses, which, however, can only be done after consultation with a medical expert and a trained aromatherapist.
- Varicose veins and spider veins occur in many pregnant women.
- The causes are genetic and hormonal factors, the increased blood volume during pregnancy.
- Also, the stress on the circulatory system and blood vessels can be a cause due to the growing weight of the baby and uterus.
- Preventive measures: A healthy lifestyle with lots of exercises, a wholesome diet and measures to relieve strained veins.
- Natural remedies can effectively alleviate complaints .
- Pay attention to sufficient movement
- Avoid overweight and a lot of sitting
- Lay your legs up as often as possible