Q: I have varicose veins all over my legs now that I'm pregnant. What's causing this, and what can I do?
A: Think your legs look better covered up these days? You can blame those blue, red, or purplish bulges on hormone fluctuations, which trigger your veins to dilate and contract, causing them to pop out. Varicose veins can also be caused by your growing uterus compressing the flow of blood from your legs back to your heart, which causes those leg veins to enlarge. The good news is these veins are not dangerous to you or your baby and will usually return to normal once you give birth. They generally do not hurt but they can be mildly itchy or achy. Since the likelihood of getting varicose veins is primarily genetic, there's little you can do to prevent them. However, research shows that moms-to-be who stand for long periods of time, especially for work -- like waitresses, teachers, or nurses -- should try to rest their legs as often as possible by propping them up on a desk at work or on the sofa at home. If the sight of the veins really bothers you, a little self-tanner or a cover-up may help camoflague them. Support stockings can also help relieve any discomfort the varicose veins are causing.
While there are treatments to eliminate varicose veins, like sclerotherapy and lasers, these are not recommended during pregnancy. What's more, most pregnancy-induced varicose veins tend to recede on their own shortly after you give birth. If do you end up stuck with a few bulging veins after your baby is born, most docs still suggest putting off treatment until you're done having children, in case any new bulges appear during future pregnancies.