One very uncomfortable (although very common!) challenge during pregnancy is varicose veins. “Varicose” actually means “distended”, this term describes exactly what is occurring. Due to a variety of factors (such as the increased blood volume, hormonal changes, weight of baby restricting blood flow, etc.) a mom’s veins will distend, which can cause considerable discomfort if not actual pain. Did you know that hemorrhoids are another form of varicose veins, just that these are located in the rectum?
If you notice the presence of hemorrhoids and/or extended veins (typically on your calves, but they can pop out in other places as well), it’s very important to start doing something about it right away, in order to have the best chance of keeping them from becoming a greater problem as the pregnancy continues.
Here are some practical ways to care for your varicose veins, and help to keep those veins strong and discourage further distention:
- Exercise regularly (daily walks are great!) to keep your blood flow circulating.
- Make sure your bowels are moving well, in order to prevent straining from constipation (this makes hemorrhoids worse). Take some extra fiber and magnesium if needed, and make sure your daily diet includes high-fiber foods such as flax meal, oatmeal, etc.
- Take time to elevate your legs higher than your heart 2-3x a day for 20 min.
- Whenever you need to sit, keep your feet elevated slightly and avoid crossing your ankles or knees.
- Try not to stand or sit for long periods of time: keep your position changing!
- Sleep on your side to encourage good blood flow.
- Consider extra support: good quality support hose for varicose veins or a “V2 Prenatal Cradle” support for vulvar varicosities. Support should be put on first thing in the morning before gravity causes pressure on the veins.
- Hot, moist compresses for pain relief.
- Take care not to massage the veins, as this can dislodge clots.
Supplements are another way to build up the vein wall strength and encourage good blood flow:
- Horse Chestnut (tincture or pill), Rutin and Collonsonia Root (also known as Stoneroot) are some of the most effective herbal supplements, and can be taken individually or in combination.
- Hawthorne Berry Extract: ¼ tsp. 2-3 times a day.
- Vitamin C with Bioflavinoids: 500mg daily
- Herbal Combination Tinctures: some to consider are Varicosity by Wishgarden, Healthy Veins by Natural Hope Herbals, or VariPlex by Mountain Meadow Herbs
- Herbal Combination Capsule options: Beyond Relief or Vari-Gone by Nature’s Sunshine.
And finally, if you’re looking for some topical ways to get some relief from the burning, itching and heavy sensations that varicose veins bring with them, you may find some of these options helpful:
- Witch Hazel applied as a wipe (Tucks) or topical compress
- Rhoid Balm by Motherlove
- HG Gone Forever
- Vein Support Salve
I hope these ideas and suggestions can be a help to you, and provide you with some relief from this pregnancy discomfort! If you have a recommendation of something that really worked for you, I’d love to hear about it!