September 23, 2021
If you’re an expecting mother or trying for a baby, there are a few things you should know about pregnancy. The experience - while rewarding- certainly comes with many unexpected challenges. One that is rarely considered by first-time mothers is that up to half of all pregnant women develop varicose veins at some point throughout their pregnancy.
While varicose veins most frequently appear on the legs, smaller spider veins can also be found in the pelvic region during pregnancy, causing groin pain. In the early stages of pregnancy, varicose veins can even appear on the breasts.
But it’s not all bad news: the varicose veins that appear during pregnancy usually go away after childbirth. For that reason, most surgeons will not medically treat varicose veins in pregnant women.
Instead, it’s recommended to focus on adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet to promote good circulation and vein health. To help combat pregnancy-induced varicose veins, along with any intense cravings, we’ve put together 5 simple recipes you can incorporate into your diet.
Start your day off right
Often touted as the most important meal of the day, a nutritious breakfast is essential in setting you up for the day ahead and will help keep you - and baby - fully energised.
A granola bowl is a delicious and versatile option to kick-start the day - and it’s surprisingly easy to make a big batch of homemade granola at home! Layer your cereal bowl with yoghurt before adding some granola and then sprinkle berries, chia seeds and nuts for a crunchy topping.
The nuts and chia seeds in this fibre-rich breakfast will contribute to a healthy heart while fruits such as blueberries are packed with antioxidants to reduce inflammation and strengthen your veins.
Spring forward with a light lunch
If you’re expecting during the warmer months, why not make a light spring salad for lunch? Using a base of leafy vegetables will up your potassium intake and reduce water retention which eases the pressure placed on your veins.
Don’t forget to add some lean protein like chicken or tofu - this will encourage good circulation and help relax the blood vessels.
This meal will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day while providing plenty of slow-release energy to keep you going.
Time to dine
If you’re feeling exhausted after a long day, you’ll want to wind down as the night approaches. Unfortunately, the majority of pregnant women suffer from insomnia at night, and a third of women experience Restless Legs Syndrome, a condition closely linked to vein disease. This means you should try to eat something that will make you want to sleep.
Satisfy your stomach with a healthy meal of potassium-rich salmon: despite the common myth that pregnant mothers should avoid eating all types of fish, it’s actually completely fine in moderation (no more than twice a week). Accompany the fish with a fibrous portion of whole grain rice and magnesium-rich asparagus, which offer an excellent way to manage your blood circulation.
A low-sodium diet can also help alleviate the severity of your varicose vein symptoms and reduce the likelihood of swelling.
Pregnant or not, everybody craves some baked goods every once in a while. While they should be reserved as an occasional treat, they can also be healthy! Buy high quality cocoa powder to make scrumptious brownies rich in flavonoids - these promote blood circulation by relaxing the blood vessels. A little dark chocolate every day is great for the heart, so chop up some bittersweet chunks of goodness to fold into your brownie batter.
Further boost your vascular health by adding cherries or nuts as optional ingredients, and remember: you’re eating for two, so take that second helping!
Wash it all down
When you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to drink plenty of water. In terms of vein health, keeping sufficiently hydrated will help the body to do everything it needs to maintain healthy circulation. However, if you’re looking for something a little tastier, why not mix things up and make a berry smoothie?
As a flavonoid-rich fruit, strawberries are great for cardiovascular health, while potassium-rich yoghurt is a perfect addition if you enjoy a creamier smoothie.
Packed full of antioxidants, blueberries and blackberries are also a great source of fibre, which helps your digestive system break down anything else you’ve eaten. This is especially important to avoid during pregnancy, as constipation will cause added pressure around your pelvic area. which can further contribute to the development of varicose veins.
Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration here for incorporating some nutrient-rich ingredients into your diet while pregnant! Do bear in mind that while lifestyle factors are important, it’s completely normal to develop varicose veins while expecting, so there’s nothing to stress about.
If they do cause you discomfort, your GP should be able to advise you on what you can do to minimise any pain. And finally, if your varicose veins are still apparent six months after giving birth, consider seeking a minimally-invasive treatment before they worsen.