Hemorrhoids and Varicose veins during pregnancy: How to deal with them

Varicose veins during pregnancy

What are Hemorrhoids and Varicose veins?

Both hemorrhoids and varicose veins are both large, swollen blood vessels found predominantly in the legs, but can also show up almost anywhere in the lower half of your body. When they show up in your rectum, they’re called haemorrhoids. It’s when they swell above the surface of the skin that they create those distinctive purplish lumps.

While both of these might seem like very different, unrelated problems, they are in fact very similar. And, a lot of women, especially those in their third trimester of pregnancy suffer from them.

What causes hemorrhoids and varicose veins in pregnancy?

Your body is making extra volume of blood during pregnancy to support two growing bodies. It does put extra pressure on your blood vessels – especially your legs as they’re the ones supporting all the weight. Your legs have to work hard to push all that extra blood back up to your heart. Besides that is the extra pressure your growing uterus puts on your pelvic blood vessels. Also, thank you extra progesterone, for relaxing the veins. This contrasting effect means that you have the perfect storm for varicose veins by around week 29 of pregnancy.

How to manage Hemorrhoids and Varicose veins during pregnancy

  • Keep your blood flowing. Get off your feet whenever you can, and keep your legs elevated when sitting. Flex your ankles every so often, and break the habit of sitting with your legs crossed.
  • Get moving. Exercise is key in preventing varicose veins.
  • Cinch it in. Invest in a pantyhose that counteracts downward pressure by pulling your veins up.
  • Watch your weight. Keep your weight gain during pregnancy down to what your practitioner recommends – usually 25 to 35 pounds.
  • Sleep on your left side. This helps avoid pressure on your main blood vessels and keep circulation going strong.
  • Do Kegels. Kegels strengthen your perineal floor and keep blood flowing at the base, avoiding the pooling of blood on your bottom.
  • Don't stress. Strain from heavy lifting or on the toilet (from constipation) can make varicose veins worse.

If the veins don't go away after the baby has arrived, you can think about having them medically treated or surgically removed then — but not during pregnancy.