Varicose veins in pregnancy
Varicose veins and thread veins often arise for the first time during pregnancy. The hormonal changes with increased oestrogens and progestagens lead to a dilatation of veins. Thread veins and small varicose veins frequently appear during the first trimester of pregnancy before the baby is large enough to affect blood flow in the main veins of the pelvis. In the third trimester, the baby may lie on the main veins from the leg, reducing blood flow in these veins.
What can I do if varicose veins begin to develop during pregnancy?
The size of the veins and symptoms of aching and swelling can be controlled by wearing support stockings or maternity hose. If the veins cause a lot of pain or discomfort, wearing medical compression stockings is useful. These are much stronger than ordinay support stockings and will control many of the symptoms. Resting with the feet elevated is also useful.
Unfortuantley compression stockings will only control the symptoms and will not make the veins go away.
What happens next?
It is often the case that varicose veins and thread veins which arise during pregnancy slowly get worse as time goes on. The good news is that after delivery the veins get much small and may go away (almost) completely. Usually a few varicose veins remain in the post-natal period.
Treatment for varicose veins which arise in pregnancy
It used to be common practice to treat varicose veins during pregnancy, but these days vein specialists believe that no treatment should be given until the post-natal period. Doctors are concerned that no treatment that could possibly harm the baby is given during pregnancy. Compression stockings are the main form of treatment that is recommended.
In the post-natal period the varicose veins will improve greatly, with most of the improvement seen in the first 4 weeks.
Treatment using any of the methods discussed in our information on treatment can then be done. Sclerotherapy is usually deferred until breast feeding has been completed.