Swollen veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin are varicose veins. They are often squiggly, and appear blueish or purplish. They Show up on the legs most often, although they can show up in other areas such as the vulva, or in the rectal area (hemorrhoids.) Varicose veins may make your legs feel heavy and achy, and the skin around them may itch or burn. As many as 40% of pregnant women suffer from varicose veins.
During pregnancy, increased levels of the hormone progesterone cause your blood vessels to relax. As your uterus grows, it will put pressure on the veins on your right side in particular. This adds to the strain on these veins, making them more likely to become varicose veins. Heredity plays a role as well, as does a previous pregnancy. Being overweight, carrying twins or higher multiples, and standing for long periods can also make you more susceptible.
You may be able to prevent or minimize varicose veins by:
– Exercising daily
– Wearing support hose
– Sleeping on your left side with your feet on a pillow
– Keeping within the recommended weight range during pregnancy
– Elevating your legs and feet when possible.
Typically, varicose veins improve within three to four months after delivery.