What causes varicose veins during pregnancy?
Varicose veins are bulging, discolored, dilated veins that are visible through your skin and usually are seen on your lower legs. They are caused by damage to the valves or vein walls, leading to pooling of blood, venous swelling, and increased venous pressure. During pregnancy, they are caused by the extra volume of blood you take on to help nourish your baby. This increased blood volume puts added pressure on your veins, especially the ones in your lower legs that have gravity working against them as well. Add to that the increased progesterone levels pumping through your body that relax blood vessels, and you are at an increased risk for varicose veins.
Some women may develop small blood clots as a result of the same blood pooling (a condition called superficial venous thrombosis), causing your vein to feel hard and rope-like, and possibly inflamed and painful as well. While usually not serious, these blood clots should still be reported to your doctor in case of infection. And they should not be confused with deep venous thrombosis, a less-common condition where clots form in deeper veins. You are more prone to this condition if you have a blood clotting disorder or are on prolonged bed rest. Any sudden, painful swelling, fever, or pain when you flex your foot should be considered potentially serious and should be reported to your doctor right away.
Varicose veins often, but not always, disappear a few months after giving birth, and in general pose no threat to your health or the health of your baby. As such, your doctor will not likely offer much help, although he/she may recommend exercise to stimulate circulation, and keeping your legs raised whenever possible.
How can natural medicine help with varicose veins during pregnancy?
Certainly yoga and other forms of exercise are beneficial to managing varicose veins, and acupuncture and TCM can help as well, by improving your blood flow. Diet modification to ensure you are at a healthy weight will help keep the varicose veins at bay, and massage therapy will help move the blood back to your heart.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent and manage varicose veins during pregnancy.
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