Many women first develop varicose veins during pregnancy. And while it may seem like the condition appears overnight, it’s really the result of the many changes that your body experiences between conception and your baby’s arrival.\nLuckily, there a few things you can do to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy.\nWhat Are Varicose Veins?\nVaricose veins occur when the valves in your veins become weak or damaged and your veins become enlarged or overfilled with blood. These veins appear swollen and typically have a blue, purple, or red color. Unlike spider veins, they appear raised from the skin. Worst of all, varicose veins can sometimes be painful.\n\nVeins are the blood vessels that return blood to the heart \u2014 they have one-way valves that, when they work properly, prevent blood from flowing backwards.\nWhen a valve fails, blood begins to collect, rather than continuing to move through the body. This can sometimes result in varicose veins.\n\nVaricose veins are more likely to occur in the veins of your lower body, because they have to fight the most against gravity.\nWhy Do Pregnant Women Get Varicose Veins?\nWeight gain and hormonal changes contribute to varicose veins during pregnancy.\nNow that you’re expecting, you have a higher volume of blood to support both you and your growing baby. You also have more progesterone, which causes veins to relax, rather than maintain the tone they typically need.\nIn addition, the weight of your uterus and baby can press on your lower vena cava \u2014 or the large vein that carries blood to your heart. This makes blood flow more difficult.\nHow Can I Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?\nWomen with a family history of varicose veins are more likely to develop the condition than those without. Here are a few helpful hints that can help you reduce the number and severity of varicose veins during pregnancy.\nKeep your feet up as much as possible\nDuring the day, try to put your feet up on a stool or footrest when you can. This relieves pooling of blood in the legs, and makes blood flow up the leg easier.\nUse compression stockings\nReach for your compression stockings as soon as you wake up in the morning. These help make up for the loss of tone in your veins, and they’re particularly helpful if you spend much of your day on your feet.\nLay on your left side when you’re sleeping\nThis takes pressure off the inferior vena cava, improving blood flow back to the heart.\nMove around frequently\nWhen you’re sitting, avoid remaining in one position for too long, and don’t cross your legs. Moving around and changing how you sit and stand can keep blood moving. Exercise can also reduce the likelihood that you’ll get varicose veins \u2014 not to mention improve your overall health.\nFor more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute website.