You’re pregnant, and you just noticed you are developing spider veins, those annoying little red or bluish veins that appear mostly on the legs (though sometimes they will show up on the face or elsewhere on your body). What causes these squiggly little lines to appear during pregnancy? They are not pretty, but don’t worry, they are mostly harmless. During pregnancy, your overall blood volume increases, but the rate at which blood flows from your legs to your pelvis decreases.
What Causes Spider Veins During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy spider veins appear as your uterus grows larger every month, putting pressure on the inferior vena cava, that large vein on the right side of your body that carries blood from the legs and feet to the heart. This in turn increases the blood pressure in the veins in your legs, sometimes causing spider veins or varicose veins to make an appearance.
Just as genetics can predispose you to developing stretch marks during pregnancy, spider veins can be a result of your genetics as well. Fortunately, they are often just a temporary inconvenience, improving within three to four months after baby arrives. If you develop pregnancy spider veins, there are a few things you can do to help reduce their appearance.
How to Avoid or Reduce Pregnancy Spider Veins
• Eat healthy fiber. In addition to helping with constipation during pregnancy, filling up on fiber can help keep things moving along, and you can get plenty with whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, which are not only good for you, but healthy for baby, too.
• Get your C! A healthy pregnancy diet includes lots of vitamin C, which your body uses to make collagen and elastin, two very important elements that help maintain and repair veins.
• Keep moving. If you are forced to stand for long periods of time, shift your weight often, and try to sit for a few minutes every hour or so, or take a short walk if possible. Staying fit during pregnancy may help stave off pregnancy spider veins, too. Exercise will keep your circulation flowing and improve leg strength and vein stability. Walking, running (if doctor approved!), body weight exercises, and strength training are all good options, if done correctly and with the proper precautions. Always check with your doctor first.
• Uncross those legs! Crossing your legs restricts the flow of blood and can be a main factor in what causes spider veins. Elevate your legs when possible to ease circulation. Use a couple of extra pillows when napping or sleeping at night to help take the pressure off your legs. This can also help with swollen ankles, a condition many pregnant women face.
• If you have pregnancy spider veins, treatment options are available, including sclerotherapy, but you will need to plan this procedure for after baby arrives. Your doctor injects the spider veins with a solution that closes those veins, causing the blood to reroute through healthier veins. In a few weeks, treated spider veins will usually fade.
For questions about treatment for pregnancy spider veins, our other services, or to schedule an appointment, call the Denver Vein Center at (303) 777-8346 today. We look forward to speaking with you.