According to the American College of Phlebology, half of all women will experience varicose veins in their lifetimes, especially during and after pregnancy. As a matter of fact, varicose veins can be a major cause of leg pain, discomfort, and swelling when you are expecting. During this time, it’s especially important to have any type of pain or swelling check out by a doctor to ensure there are no major underlying causes, but with medical clearance, there are some things you can do to ease it or prevent it from occurring.
1. Change your sleeping position.
Sleeping on your side is the best way to keep your blood flowing without restriction. The harder it is for your blood to flow to and from your heart, the more likely you are to experience varicose veins and leg pain. Placing a pillow between your legs may provide you with additional support.
2. Kick your feet up.
If possible, whenever you experience swelling in the legs and feet, prop them up. Take 30 minutes and head for the bed or sofa with a stack of pillows, a good book, or your favorite half-hour sitcom on the DVR. Just make sure your feet are propped up higher than your heart.
3. Watch what you eat.
Too much processed and fast food can lead to swelling because of the high sodium levels. Try cooking at home instead of eating out to control the amount of salt you add to your meals. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins instead of prepackaged foods.
4. Wear compression stockings.
Compression stockings, socks, and pantyhose can help keep your blood circulating and prevent swelling and pain. And these days, the compression stockings available on the market aren’t your grandma’s compression stockings. They are available in a number of styles and colors that go great with any outfit. Your doctor can even prescribe compression stockings for extreme situations.
5. Watch your weight.
Some women see pregnancy as a license to eat what they want without worry about weight gain, but doing so can add to your pain and discomfort by placing additional pressure on your legs. For most women, doctors recommend gaining between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, though that number can vary based on numerous factors. Talk to your doctor about what a reasonable amount of weight gain is for you and what you can do to keep it in check.
6. Drink plenty of water.
Water plays an important role when it comes to many health concerns, so make sure you are drinking an adequate amount each day. Water can flush the sodium from your system and help prevent swelling. It can help break down food and ease digestion (constipation may lead to problems with varicose veins).
If you are suffering from aching or swollen legs, you may not be getting enough cardiovascular exercise. A 30 minute walk each day can help combat that and prevent blood and fluids from pooling in your lower body. As you walk, you work your calf muscles which play an important role in blood circulation in the legs.
8. Dress comfortably.
Tight clothing, undergarments, shoes, and socks can restrict blood flow in your lower body. Be sure to wear comfortable maternity clothing and stick with flat shoes, as they work your calf muscles more than heels.