Four Ways To Reduce Your Chances Of Developing Varicose Veins While Pregnant

Especially if you have a family history of varicose veins, you're at an increased risk of developing these bulging, visible veins during pregnancy. The increased blood volume associated with carrying a child puts extra pressure on your veins, causing some of their walls to "bulge" out. While there is nothing you can do to guarantee you won't develop varicose veins while pregnant, there are ways to reduce your risk or minimize their presence.

Gain only the recommended amount of weight.

You need to gain some weight while you're pregnant, but gaining too much weight can increase your risk of varicose veins because the excess weight puts added pressure on your legs. In general, experts recommend that women who are average weight before becoming pregnant gain between 25 and 35 pounds throughout their pregnancy. Those who are underweight prior to pregnancy should gain 28 to 40 pounds, and those who are overweight should gain 15 to 25 pounds.

Talk to your physician to determine what a healthy weight gain for you would be, and then try to stay within those limits by staying active throughout your pregnancy and watching your intake of "junk" foods.

Say goodbye to the heels.

If you wore heels before becoming pregnant, now is the time to ditch them. Wearing heels puts excess strain on your legs and reduces your circulation, which can lead to varicose veins. Adopt a few comfortable pairs of flats, and if anyone gives you the side-eye at work for wearing them, just tell them the truth -- that you're pregnant and doing what's best for your legs.

Don't stand on your feet for too long.

Many women, when they first find out they are pregnant, develop a "can-do" attitude. This is the attitude that has you thinking, "Everyone else might slow down when they're pregnant, but not me! I'm going to be as productive as ever." Don't let this attitude keep you on your feet for long periods of time during the day. Excessive standing, especially on hard floors, can increase your risk of varicose veins -- especially when you're carrying a little one.

If you have a job that requires you to stand, make sure you're walking around periodically; it's better than standing in one place. Also, talk to your employer about the possibility of making changes to your duties so that you can perform your work while sitting for part of the day. Of course, sitting all day is not great for you either. Ideally, you should have a good mixture of sitting, standing and walking in your day.

Wear compression stockings.

They look like something your grandma would have worn, but they are very helpful. Compression stockings are essentially tight stockings that put pressure on your legs and keep the blood from pooling in your veins. You can wear them at night to help reduce your risk of varicose veins. Some people even wear them in the day. It's important to find a pair that fits you properly, so pay close attention to height and weight guidelines when thumbing through sizes at your local pharmacy. You may have to buy a new pair later on in your pregnancy if you gain some weight or start to experience swelling in your ankles -- though the compression stockings will help reduce swelling, too.

Nobody wants to emerge from pregnancy with legs that look like they have been through a battle. By following the tips above, you can minimize the appearance of varicose veins. If you do develop a few veins anyways, don't fret too much. Think of them as battle wounds that show your strength as a mother. If they bother you too much, there are several innovative laser treatments that can be used to remove them rather painlessly.

Click here for additional reading on preventing and treating varicose veins.