Varicose veins, like many pregnancy symptoms, are a pain in the butt. If you want to learn some simple remedies for varicose veins and to improve your overall circulation, this is for you.
Let me just start by saying that unfortunately, they tend to be hereditary – which means that it may in the books from the start. Woop!
That’s not to say that they have to absolutely ruin your pregnancy though – if you take action now.
Why do varicose veins happen?
Varicose veins start to occur when the one-valve function in the veins of your legs doesn’t function properly. This stops the blood from returning to the heart, and thus accumulation in the veins.
During pregnancy, this malfunction usually happens for a few reasons:
- Added pressure your uterus puts on the veins in the legs that carry blood back to the heart.
- General increase in quantity of blood in your body
- Pregnancy makes the walls of your veins softer, which can decrease their function
To sum it up: the extra weight your carrying really doesn’t help to promote blood flow while you’re pregnant. And if you’re at risk of inheriting varicose veins, it’s best to take some precautions.
Where do varicose veins appear?
You can develop them most commonly in your legs, but also in the opening of your vulva or rectum (aka hemorrhoids).
Are varicose veins dangerous for pregnancy?
As long as you keep them under control, they should slowly start to disappear after you’ve given birth.
You may still have the traces of them for up to a year after birth, but if you use the remedies I’m about to mention, you’ll have more control in that reduction.
I had a mighty green vein that started in my pubic area and finished somewhere around the middle of my thigh.
As I was preparing for a home birth, I was monitored very carefully throughout my pregnancy and kept it under control.
An untreated varicose vein in my case, could mean higher chances of a blood clot, come the day of my labor.
With all the things I’ve personally tried and tested below, I was able to prevent anything from happening.
1) Remedy one: compression socks
I know it doesn’t really sound like a remedy, but trust me, these boys do wonders.
Not only do they alleviate any soreness you may be feeling from the varicose veins, they also keep your tension up. Which is always a boost when you’re reaching the end of your pregnancy.
You can have them prescribed to you especially by your doctor, in which case they will be measured in the pharmacy and ordered for you.
Or you can buy them here online, there is a chart to measure what size you need but PRO TIP: measure your calves in the morning! This is when there is least blood flow and it makes sure they will be tight enough to do their job.
2) Remedy two: cold water
Bear in mind, when I say cold, I don’t mean ice cold. You don’t want to be giving your body any shocks right now!
I mean just the right amount of freshness, a little colder than tepid – hey, you know yourself better than I do.
I would recommend that for the most part, you aim for your legs. Take the shower head and start from your feet, working your way up to your thigh. Repeat this motion several times.
Something else I’ve tried is to soak your feet in a bowl of cold (I don’t need to explain again!) water, preferably with epsom salts.
Epsom salt is safe to use during pregnancy as it isn’t actually salt. As many athletes use it on tired and sore muscles, so should you! Read more about the benefits here.
3) Remedy three: green clay mask
Similar to the cold water treatment I mentioned above, green clay works in a cooling manner too.
Although it is widely used to make homemade face masks, you can also apply it to the area that’s causing your trouble.
It provides a cooling sensation as you apply it, which can be a huge relief. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it improves blood circulation, which is why so many women use it in the face mask form.
Used on the area on your leg, it will help increase blood flow and drain any toxins.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the advice on green clay came from my midwife during my pregnancy. Consult with your medical practitioner before using anything.
4) Gentle massage
Have you noticed a trend yet? All of the remedies help to promote better blood flow, which will decrease the inflamation of your varicose veins.
Massage is perhaps one of the best ways you can do this – especially if you don’t have any ingredients at hand.
The idea is to work upwards, as we’re aiming for the blood to circulate back to the heart. So always start with circular motions, gradually getting bigger as you work up your leg.
Don’t get all intense about it – the lighter your strokes are, the better. Use the palm of your hand or flat fingers to do this.
Do not press directly on the vein either – you can read more about how to do this yourself here.
If you can combine the cold water leg shower from above with the massage, even better.
5) Remedy five – red vine leaf infusion
Similar to the other remedies mentioned, red wine leaf has been know for years to increase circulation but how?
What is does is open up the blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more easily throughout.
I started drinking 3-4 cups a day and noticed a huge difference. Consult with your doctor for usage before you take it.
Once you have varicose veins, it’s important to note that they will not just disappear overnight and will likely remain up til the end of your pregnancy.
There are some preventitive methods you can take to stop any symptoms from worsening. Here I list a few below:
This is a must for pregnant women in general, but especially if you have circulatory problems.
If you sit for long periods of time, try and move your legs around every now and then or hold them higher up to promote better blood flow.
There are also some foot exercises….
The more you keep active, the less chance the blood has of staying in one place!
You want to avoid gaining any excess weight during your pregnancy. Extra weight means extra pressure on the uterus and the vena cava.
My advice is to eat light and often: avoid going for long periods of time without a snack, or you’ll be more likely to cave in front of a huge meal.
Remember, light eating is also in your favour if you suffer from pregnancy heartburn.
Remember: the old eat for two advice is outdated. Do make sure you get a good portion, but make sure it’s healthy and nutricious for both you and baby.
There is a reason all the experts tell you not to sleep on your back during pregnancy – it’s to avoid putting too much pressure on the large vein we’ve talked about.
Make sure you get comfortable with a good pregnancy cushion, you can even put an extra cushion behind your back if you like.
When you’re lying down on the sofa, prop your feet up with a couple of cushions – or place them on top of your hub’s lap!
Granted, it’s not the most sexy of options out there, but the use of garlic in your day-to-diet has amazing benefits. One of them namely the ability to break down toxins in your body and hence improves blood flow.
You can enjoy a raw clove chopped up finely in salads, and side dishes. Even toss it on top of some bread and pop it in the oven! The possibilites are endless.