how to deal with painful varicose veins during pregnancy

How to Manage Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

How to Deal With Severe Varicose Veins While Pregnant

Pregnancy is special and beautiful. Pregnancy is also painful and gross. Let’s talk varicose veins. There is not another time in a women’s life when she is more apt to develop possibly harmless but also probably very painful varicose veins.

Learn the best ways to deal with those painful swollen veins during your pregnancy and my horrible varicose veins story.

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how to manage varicose veins during pregnancy

What are varicose veins?


Varicose veins are bulging twisting veins that can be seen through the skin. They can usually be diagnosed by a simple exam as they are most common in the leg and can usually be easily seen.

Our veins are supposed to flow one way and have little valves in them that keep the blood flowing toward your heart. When those valves become weak and break down, bam, varicose veins!

You don’t have to be pregnant or female to suffer from varicose veins, but pregnancy is the most common cause of varicose veins.


What causes varicose veins during pregnancy?

  • During pregnancy, your blood volume nearly doubles! All that pressure on your veins alone does a doozy, but that’s not nearly all that contributes to the common varicose veins during pregnancy.
  • Your growing baby and expanding abdomen put a lot of pressure on a major vein on the right side of your body called the vena cava. You have probably heard it referenced when told to avoid laying on your back after the second trimester. The pressure on the vena cava causes increased pressure to your leg veins according to the Baby Center.
  • It is also proposed that the hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing varicose veins.

RELATED: 9 Things You Should Be Doing NOW to Prepare for an Easy Pregnancy


the perfect pregnancy plan prenatal nutrition and fitness program


My Varicose Veins Story

Yup, I’ve got them. And I’m talking a lot of them. Let me preface this section with a disclaimer. I’m not trying to scare you about the possibility of contracting varicose veins during pregnancy. I just am going to be honest about my personal experience so that if you already have them (which I bet you do if you’re reading this) maybe I can help give you some ideas to alleviate that killer pain!

managing severe varicose vein pain during pregnancy

Secondly, this is not for the super squeamish… I’ve got painful varicose veins in places I didn’t even know they could pop up; until they did.

Ok so now that is out of the way so let’s go!


I suffer from lots of varicose veins from pregnancy.

my varicose vein story during pregnancy and how painful it is

I made it through my first pregnancy just fine, as far as my veins were concerned. But the second pregnancy was an entirely different story.

I remember just before that pregnancy looking at my calf one day on the tennis courts and seeing the tiniest bump on a vein. I said to myself, “If I ever get varicose veins, I bet it’s starting right there.”

And sure enough within the first trimester of my second pregnancy, it started exactly there in my calf, as they typically do.

And most people’s varicose veins from pregnancy remain only in their right calf.

The aching pain was pretty much constant. But then again, I was working full time as a store manager which means I was on my feet ALL DAY.

Ever worked as a retail floor manager? Ya, there are exactly zero hours of sitting.

Then, after work, I had an energetic 4-year-old eager to get outside and play with Mommy who had been gone all day. And we always did just that.

But then the varicose vein started progressing to the inside of my thigh just above my knee.

(Scroll to the top of the post and see the one tiny bulge about 4 inches below my knee… yes these photos are actually me and yes, I have crazy long legs.) That one tiny bulge is so painful more than the inner thigh vein you can see.

Which proves one thing only. The pain you suffer from these veins may be much worse than what can be seen. Deep varicose veins tend to hurt even more due to their closer proximity to more vital organs and arteries.

Then that same darn vein continued to break down on the entire inner upper high, making a bulging twisting web that was already sore, then because of it’s swelling and location, was always rubbing on my opposite thigh every time I took a step.

But it didn’t stop there.

As my baby got bigger the varicose veins popped up all through my vulva on both sides. That was something I didn’t even know could happen.

Then they continued through my abdomen. This part I didn’t know about until postpartum when I was diagnosed with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome after lots of pain that was so bad I could barely walk certain times of the month (which happened to be when ovulating for me…) and lots of extremely intrusive ultrasounds.

Ever had a transvaginal ultrasound? Ugh, horrible. Basically, PCS means varicose veins in your abdomen.

Varicose veins hurt.

I mean sure, it sucks they look gross and are a little embarrassing. That is for your mommy eyes only, I’d never let my little girls know I feel that way. With them, I joke about them and let them squish the funny veins. But in reality, I do feel that way when they are all swollen and bulging.

But it goes way beyond a cosmetic issue, I can get past that most of the time, what gets me is the pain. If you have any varicose veins you might know… imagine having them throughout over 1/3 of your body! Yikes.

They ache and swell. It’s a deep throbbing pain that I’ve become all too familiar with.

But at least for me, it’s not all the time. It is only during lady times. After my second pregnancy, the swelling of the veins disappeared everywhere except for my calf.

However every time I get my period or ovulate they hurt terribly. For me, ovulation is horrendously painful now. So painful that my abdomen aches with every step.

But pregnancy is the worst due to the constant prolonged nature of the swelling and pain.

And now I’m on my 3rd pregnancy. At least this time I am well aware of the issue and able to take many steps to alleviate the pain and swelling.

So I definitely suffer from these babies, and I want to help you suffer from them less!

RELATED: Things I had no Idea I Desperately Needed for Pregnancy


relieve the pain from varicose veins while you are pregnant

What can you do to manage varicose veins during pregnancy?


1. Elevate Your Legs

Whenever possible, or at least periodically throughout the day, elevate your legs! Lay down on the couch and lift them up at least level to if not above your heart.

The pain relief for me from this is almost instant. Unfortunately, laying down all the time is not good for your body or mind, but take as many little breaks as you can when that swelling starts.


2. Engage in Prenatal Exercise

Exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy as long as you do not suffer from specific contraindications. Exercise increases your heart rate and blood flow and can temporarily alleviate the pooling of blood in varicose veins.

Learn all about how exercise benefits mom and baby as well as exactly how to exercise safely during pregnancy, straight from a certified personal fitness trainer.


3. Try Wearing Compression Socks

During my second pregnancy, I was given this recommendation by my doctor… in the middle of summer in Southern California. Needless to say, the idea of wearing hot, tight, thick, compression socks up to my knees was not happening.

Knowing what I was in store for this pregnancy from the gate, I ordered a huge set of compression stockings as soon as I got that positive pregnancy test!

Compression stockings come in different grades depending on the amount of compression you want.

  1. Low to moderate compression stockings are rated 15-20mmHg like this killer deal of a set.
  2. Moderate to high medical-grade compression stockings are rated 20-30mmHg like this set I wear.
  3. Extra high compression stockings are rated 30-40mmHg like this set for severe cases.

Personally, I find the 20-30mmHg to be just right. They feel like quite a bit of compression, any more would personally make me feel like my legs were in a corset, any less and I don’t feel they’d be effective enough.


4. Try Out Compression Leggings

These are my favorite go-to for when those veins have been swelling up a lot. You put them on laying down in bed with your feet raised, so all the pooled blood can escape first.

It’s actually quite I sight to see, I’ve seen the look on my husband’s face while I wriggle into these things virtually upside down in the morning. But they are well worth it.

I ordered these when I ordered the compression socks, as soon as that pregnancy test showed 2 little lines. I was debating buying the nonpregnant compression leggings vs. the over bump compression leggings right from the gate.

I’m so glad I decided to start with the non-preggo ones! I’m 20 weeks now and still wearing these, they are just barely starting to feel tight on my little bump though so I’ll probably be switching to the pregnancy ones in another month. If you are early in pregnancy you can try my favorite compression leggings here that are 20-30mmHg.

If you already have a big bump try out these cute pregnancy compression leggings I’ll be sporting next month!

Once again it’s summer and over 100 degrees every day where I live right now, but a couple of days a week when the swelling is really bad for some reason or another unknown to me, I can be found in these black, thick, compressions leggings because the relief is worth it.

Oh and so you know if you get the same pair linked above, they are very form-fitting but not sheer so can be worn as regular pants. I like pairing them with a tunic top.

varicose veins are painful during pregnancy learn how to relieve them

5. Try a V brace

Now, this is only if you are one of those super duper unlucky pregnant ladies like myself, who suffer from varicose veins in your lady bits. Because that ish is painful, and the stockings and even the leggings don’t do anything for it!

If you are suffering from painful varicose veins in your vulva this is worth a try!

My doctor recommended trying a V brace. It’s basically compression straps for your vagina. This one is made specifically for pregnant mamas and comes with a belly band too.


6. On that note, Try a Belly Band

Lifting up that growing belly can help alleviate some of the discomfort. Taking any of the weight off of those overworked veins is helpful, and a belly band is super affordable and can help!

There are a couple of different routes to go here:

  1. Soft Comfortable Belly Band for All-Day Wear
  2. Double Strap Belly Band for Ultimate Lifting of the Baby Weight; but not the most comfort.
  3. Medium Strength Belly Support, sort of a happy medium between the other two.

Belly bands are also great for all other pregnancy aches and pains like low back pain and hip pain.


7. Go for a Swim

You weigh less in the water. Swimming not only alleviates aching joints but also swollen and aching veins.

This “treatment” is immediate but doesn’t last beyond the time in the water. But going for a nice swim or playing in the pool with your kids can really give you a nice pain-free break from those aching legs.

Especially in summer, when I can’t wear those hot stockings EVERY day, but I sure can jump in the pool for a couple of hours of relief.


8. Change Positions Often

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or laying in the same position for any extended period of time, it gives the opportunity for blood to pool in those varicose veins.

Move around and switch positions often to keep the blood moving.


8. Quit Crossing Your Legs

Crossing your legs, as we are completely conditioned to do, can definitely exacerbate varicose veins. This is much easier said than done!

Recently at my brothers’ baby shower there was a game where you could steal each other’s blue baby necklace if you caught someone crossing their legs or arms. Whoever had the most necklaces at the end of the party won.

I quickly realized that I was completely incapable of sitting without crossing my legs. It is so second nature once I sit! When you are suffering from varicose veins during pregnancy is a great time to practice not crossing your legs!

(Heck, maybe you can even win the game at your baby shower.)


9. Wear Flats

Wearing heels is bad for your posture, your feet, your joints, just about everything. It puts added pressure where it doesn’t need to be. I’m not saying you need to NEVER wear those sexy pumps and feel that feminine power, but definitely limit it to special occasions.

The extra pressure that wearing high heels puts on your calves is bad for circulation. That big bump in your abdomen is already affecting your circulation, let’s not add to it.

Not to mention, your balance is negatively affected by that big bump you’re carrying around. Heels can be downright dangerous as you get bigger and bigger!


10. Avoid Constipation

The pushing you have to do with constipation is absolutely terrible for varicose veins! Hemroids are a type of varicose vein, did you know that? And unfortunately, constipation is a common side effect of pregnancy!

In all frank honesty, I cannot push at all to go without tons of vulva vein pain, uh the truths of pregnancy.

So to combat constipation from striking:

  • Keep your fluid intake high! And I mean healthy fluids like water, infused water, seltzer water (they have all kinds of yummy ones sans sugar now like La Croix), red raspberry leaf tea (great for toning the uterus), etc.
  • Eat high fiber foods like chia seeds. Chia gel is a great way to aid digestion naturally.
  •  Make sure you are eating probiotic food to balance gut health like Keifer, apple cider vinegar, and sauerkraut.

To alleviate constipation:

  • Smooth move senna tea. I’ve asked multiple OBGYNs on this one and senna IS safe for pregnancy. Thank goodness because this tea is my lifesaver! I take it just about every night before bed or I can’t go.
  • Magnesium citrate. This stuff is intense, it is gross to drink and will give you the runs. But it is highly effective and increases your magnesium. I only take this stuff in extreme circumstances, but always keep it on hand while preggo.


11. Sleep on Your Left

Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy is the best for your circulation. Laying on your left helps relief the most pressure from your vena cava and lets the blood flow as best as it can to the legs.


Wrapping Up Managing Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is no solution to varicose veins during pregnancy. But there are some highly effective ways to manage the pain.

I hope you are able to try all the tips in this post and finally find some relief from your aching bulging veins.

Management of varicose veins is so important to your comfort during pregnancy. Armed with these tips, you are much better prepared for the rest of your time pregnant.


More Pregnancy Tips from The Perfect Pregnancy Plan

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  1. I like that you said one of the ways to alleviate the pain caused by varicose veins during pregnancy immediately is by going for a swim. My wife has developed some of these during her third pregnancy with our little boy, and she been complaining about how much they ache and how insecure she is about them. I’ll try to take her out on a swim every other day since we have a pool in our backyard. Once she gives birth, we’ll start to look for varicose vein treatment service in the city so she can get rid of them. Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad your wife was able to find some relief swimming! Even on days when the water felt cold, I’d get in with my kids when they asked because it’s immediate relief!

  2. I’m so thankful to have found this! I’m pregnant with my third baby and am experiencing everything you described (including the vulvar varicosities). I’m 34 weeks now and able to manage relatively well knowing the end is in sight! My question for you is, after giving birth, did you have discoloration or any of the leftover bruised look on your vulva/ inner thigh? And if so, were you able to do anything about it? I have had schlerotherapy done on my leg but I’m not sure if there is anything to be done for the vulva/upper thigh area to get rid of the look of the varicose veins.

    1. Holly thank you so much for reaching out about these sensitive topics. Congrats on your third pregnancy, that’s so exciting! You are almost there mama, hang in there! After giving birth (I had these issues with baby #2 and #3) almost all of the spider veins disappeared, the varicose veins in my legs all flattened, the vulvar varicosities fully disappeared. All of which was so relieving for me. The veins in my thigh and calf you can see but the only time all the veins bulge and become painful after birth for me are when ovulating and my period. For after baby #2… still haven’t gotten those back after baby #3. Hope this helps you girl and I hope your birth goes amazing! Feel free to stay in touch.