Some pregnant women notice starburst veins on their legs. It is often accompanied by a feeling of fatigue in the legs, difficulty in walking, feet swelling. Rather, these are the first manifestations of the varicose veins disease, which affects 20-40% of pregnant women. Approximately 70-90% of women attribute the appearance of varicose veins to pregnancy.
The varicose veins disease is the extension and elongation of veins. It causes a change in the vascular wall structure, as well as irreversible changes in venous valves that provide blood flow through the veins upward toward the heart.
What causes the varicose veins disease?
The appearance of varicose veins in pregnant women is explained by the changes in hormonal levels. During this period, there is a decrease in the amount of estrogen, and an increase in the levels of progesterone and relaxin, which have a relaxing effect on the muscle wall of the vein. As a result, the vein wall during pregnancy is always in a relaxed state.
Important factors provoking varicose veins during pregnancy are an increase in blood volume and the associated increase in venous pressure, as well as blood flow slowing in the lower extremities. Sometimes low placenta contributes to the development of varicose veins in pregnant women.
How does it look?
The manifestations of varicose veins depend on the forms and stages of the disease. As a rule, the vein expansion, which started at the beginning of pregnancy, tends to progress. Subcutaneous veins of the lower extremities get clearly visible under the skin, their walls are stretched. Impaired blood circulation causes areas of decreased sensitivity on the skin (paresthesia), and violation of the venous outflow from the muscles leads to pain in the legs, fatigue during walking, and swelling.
Rarely (in about 4% of women), the disease can develop in the subcutaneous veins of the vagina, groin, and other organs. The varicose veins disease not only spoils the beauty of women’s legs, but can also be complicated by many unpleasant conditions (atopic dermatitis, eczema, varicose ulcers, bleeding, thrombophlebitis of subcutaneous veins, acute deep venous thrombosis).
Taking care of the feet
The varicose vein disease itself does not affect the course of pregnancy, but its complications can be dangerous, so the expectant mother should focus on preventive measures to avoid thrombosis of varicose veins and thrombophlebitis.
The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (lumen closure by a blood clot) is pain in the calf muscles, the popliteal fossa on the thigh or groin – where large blood vessels are located. The affected limb increases in volume, its skin color changes, there is a local increase in temperature. Thrombosis may trigger thrombophlebitis (inflammation) of the superficial veins.
Many pregnant women use the following methods to prevent and treat phlebological diseases: keeping regular hours, using cosmetic and medical products (ointments, creams, cooling gels), traditional medicine (baths etc.) The medical treatment of varicose veins embraces three main directions: conservative treatment, sclerotherapy and surgery.
The most effective, safe and reliable method for varicose treatment during pregnancy, according to doctors, is elastic compression. It means wearing compression stockings or tights. Elastic compression squeezes the saphenous veins, reducing stagnation and increasing blood flow velocity 3-5 times. Elastic compression can be used not only for treatment, but also for the prevention of varicose veins.
The effectiveness of elastic compression in treatment and prevention of varicose veins during pregnancy is due to the impact of compression produced on the veins. Compression stockings and tights provide an additional framework for altered veins and a physiological pressure distribution mode. This prevents their further expansion and improves the outflow of venous blood from the legs. Thus, leg swelling and the risk of blood clots is reduced. Moreover, it makes a therapeutic and cosmetic effect on the expectant mother’s legs: they stop aching and swelling, and the veins do not appear on the surface of the skin or form knots and cyanotic curves. In fact, many women appreciate the cosmetic effects from the use of compression stockings, although, again, it is designed for use in medical practice.
The question about the delivery method of women with varicose disease is solved individually. If possible, vaginal delivery is preferred. In some cases, C-section is performed. Elastic bandaging on both legs or special embolic stockings are a must during the delivery. In the postpartum period, women are recommended to get up as soon as possible. They are prescribed exercise therapy and elastic compression of both legs.
In the future, before planning a pregnancy, a woman suffering from varicose veins, should undergo thorough medical examination, including the examination of blood clotting system.
Today compression hosiery is divided into two categories: preventive and medical. Expectant mothers who do not have clinical manifestations of varicose veins are recommended to wear preventive compression hosiery. The density of these is measured in DEN, as in usual tights. Where there is evidence of varicose veins, you should individually select tights, stockings or socks, depending on the course of the disease. Compression stockings are easy to use: the soft material feels good on the skin, a special weave allows it to breathe while performing the supporting function.
How to choose compression hosiery?
It is a logical question – where and how to buy compression hoisery, because tights for pregnant women can nowadays be found even in the windows of subway kiosks. Experts give a few tips on how to choose compression stockings, socks or tights.
- For a start, the expectant mother should consult with a physician-phlebologist who prescribes medical compression products. This specialist determines whether a woman needs preventive or medical stockings.
- Medical hosiery is chosen according to individual measurements – this is what provides the therapeutic effect.
- The therapeutic effect of such hosiery is 6 to 10 months.
- The elastic thread of medical compression hosiery is “double-braided” with a strong cotton or rubber thread. Synthetic materials are also used by manufacturers, but, for pregnant women, natural materials are preferred.
- Compression stockings, socks and tights are knitted using seamless technology.
- You can recognize real medical compression stockings by a RAL sign of standard. This sign must be present on the packaging – it guarantees customer safety and the product effectiveness.
- Rockefeller’s words, “I am not rich enough to buy cheap things” are equally often used by buyers and dishonest sellers. So, to be sure of quality, buy only expensive compression products in specialized manufacturers’ stores or stores for pregnant women.