Circulation Tips For New Moms-To-Be
At some point during their pregnancy, many women notice bulky bluish veins popping up on their legs. As your uterus grows, more pressure is put on your veins and it becomes harder for the blood circulation to leave your legs. Cold weather and being on your feet all day could also contribute to poor circulation. Varicose veins particularly affect women where it runs in their family.
Dr. Luis Navarro, Director of The Vein Treatment Center, has provided us with a few tips for new moms-to-be to help optimize blood circulation during pregnancy.
Tips to prevent or decrease varicose veins:
Get regular exercise. Any type of exercise that strengthens the "second heart" - the muscles of the calf and foot – is beneficial. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week. Suggested activities for pregnant women include walking and swimming. After baby is born add running and bicycling to your exercise rotation.
Wear graduated compression stockings. Compression stockings act like an added layer of muscle, aiding the performance of the "second heart" and venous circulation.
Avoid prolonged periods of sitting and standing. Rotate your ankles and feet whenever possible, walk for at least 10 minutes every hour, and point and flex your toes to promote leg vein circulation. If you’re on bed rest during a portion of your pregnancy, make sure to still occasionally move your feet to help circulation.
Elevate your feet. Raise your feet 6 to 12 inches above your heart whenever possible to assist circulation.
Eat a high fiber and low salt diet. Salt retains water and constipation (a common pregnancy symptom) puts pressure on the venous system.
Maintain an appropriate body weight for your frame. Obesity can strain the circulatory system. While loosing weight during pregnancy is not advised, work with your doctor to make sure you are gaining the appropriate amount of weight throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tight garments can restrict the flow of blood to and from the legs. Most maternity clothes have some give and room to grow in the construction so you can find a stylish option that will still show off your shape without being too tight.
Avoid crossing your legs. Leg crossing constricts veins and increases venous pressure. As your belly continues to grow, this position might not be comfortable for you anyways.
After baby is born
Monitor hormone intake. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy constrict blood vessels and can weaken vein valves and vein walls.
Consider dietary supplements. Vitamins C and E act as antioxidants, which are good for circulation. Flavonoids, Butcher's Broom, and Horse Chestnut Seed Extract (HCE50) improve venous circulation and decrease symptoms of venous disease. Note: If breastfeeding, consult your doctor about any supplements you plan to take to make sure it is safe for baby. Not enough is known about the safety of using Butcher’s Broom and Horse Chestnut Seed while breastfeeding.