Bought to you by Mother & Baby
While your mother might have been told that they were an inevitable result of being pregnant, there's a lot you can do to prevent varicose veins.
What causes them?
Varicose veins are swollen veins just beneath the skin, and they're usually found on the legs. The veins in your legs have special valves that help blood return up your legs, back to your heart. If these valves become weakened, blood starts to collect in them, they become larger than normal and end up looking like a tangle of blue wires on your leg.
Other ways of detecting varicose veins may include thread or spider veins, discoloured skin, aching or restless legs and swollen ankles. Some people find the skin over the veins becomes itchy, too. Varicose veins often become more common with age, when the walls of your veins can lose their elasticity making them balloon out.
Who's at risk?
Varicose veins are an inherited trait, so if one of your parents has them, it's worth taking extra care of your legs. Another big risk factor is pregnancy. This is because pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, make the walls of your blood vessels relax so that blood is more likely to collect in the veins in your legs. The extra weight caused by your growing baby and the increased blood volume you gain during pregnancy don't help much either.
If varicose veins should develop during pregnancy, they should not be considered for surgical treatment until after the baby has been born. If you have large varicose veins, surgery to remove the veins may be needed. This is sometimes known as 'stripping'.
With small varicose veins, a few self-help remedies may be all you need to ease the discomfort. Remedies include:
- Lots of leg exercises this can improve symptoms of varicose veins because muscles in the legs help to pump blood back to the heart.
- Not standing for long periods this increases the risk of varicose veins and can make existing ones worse.
- Keeping your feet higher than you heart when lying down, so that blood easily flows back to your heart.
- Wearing elasticated tights to support your veins your GP can advise you on the right type.
- Yoga certain postures can help varicose veins, but do stick to classes specially for pregnant women.
- Have a soothing leg massage. Try massaging your legs with lemon essential oil just add three drops to an egg cup of sweet almond oil.
Real-life mum tells: "I had my veins stripped"
"I first noticed a bump appearing on the inside of my left leg when I was six months pregnant with Caitlin. I was worried because my mother had suffered from varicose veins. I tried to keep my leg up as much a possible, but when I got pregnant again 17 months later, it got worse. It ached a lot and started to look big and horrible. Finally, after I had Flora, my doctor offered to inject the veins, but I decided to have them stripped. The veins were pulled out though a small hole in my groin. My leg was bandaged for a while afterwards and I had to walk about three miles a day. Now my legs look fine."
Beccy Maddox, mum to Caitlin, six, Matthew, four, and Flora, two.
Bought to you by Mother & Baby