During pregnancy, there is a restructuring of the tissue and tissue structure due to the effect of hormones (the connecting tissue becomes loose and the walls of the vessels can become porous). The growth of the child and the uterus causes the pressure on the pelvic vessels and thereby also on the vessels in the legs.

The consequences could be:

Varicose veins can lead to complications such as vein inflammation (thrombophlebitis) or even thrombosis.

As the therapeutic possibilities of the treatment of varicose veins, or the resulting complications) are limited during pregnancy, the following should apply:

"Take precautions! Avoid complications!"

A pregnant woman has a 5 to 10-times great risk of venous thrombosis during pregnancy, and a 10 to 20-times greater risk while in the childbearing bed, compared to a woman who is not pregnant.

There are risk factors which can increase the risk of thrombosis during pregnancy:

  • Age > 35 years
  • Pronounced varicose veins
  • Previous medical history of thrombosis
  • Thrombophilia (hereditary or acquired coagulation disorder)
  • Loss of fluids (vomiting, gastrointestinal infections etc.)
  • Pregnancy due to hormonal ovarian stimulation
  • Obesity in early pregnancy (BMI > 30)
  • Operative vaginal delivery, emergency caesarean and/or severe blooding during childbirth

Frequently asked questions associated with pregnancy

Do I have to wear compression stockings, and if so, for how long?
In the event of swelling in the legs and/or already visible varicose veins, you should wear compression stockings or special pregnancy compression stockings. They are prescribed by your gynaecologist or by a vascular specialist after an examination of the vascular system and should be worn during the day at least until you leave the childbirth bed (ideally 6 weeks after birth).

Do I have to inject heparin during pregnancy?
In case of a corresponding risk of thrombosis, hereditary coagulation disorders (associated with an increased risk of thrombosis) and/or after thrombosis has occurred, it may be necessary to take prophylactic measures against thrombosis during pregnancy (and the childbirth bed phase), for example using low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). The type and duration of these measures is to be agreed in close cooperation between your gynaecologist and a vascular specialist.

Can I treat spider veins / varicose veins during pregnancy?
During pregnancy all measures which are not absolutely necessary from a medical perspective are to be avoided! What does this mean for you as a mother-to-be? It makes most sense to check your veins in early pregnancy so that we can provide you with specific help to make sure that you have an untroubled pregnancy, and have as few consequences / little damage to your vascular system as possible. 

When can I treat my varicose veins after pregnancy?
The connective tissues and the venous system only slowly become stronger after pregnancy and it takes around 6 months for the repair processes to finish. A check-up with a vascular specialist is therefore recommended 6 months after childbirth - at this check-up an individual treatment plan for you can be set. In rare cases an earlier check-up or treatment is necessary – you will be notified of this at the check-ups during your pregnancy.

When can spider veins be treated?
Spider veins can be treated 6 weeks after childbirth or after the end of the breastfeeding period - although the atrophy medication is not transferred to the breast milk, there is a risk of hyperpigmentation during breastfeeding (darkening of the skin).

What can I do for my legs / vessels after childbirth?
The compression stockings or special pregnancy compression stockings prescribed by your gynaecologist or vascular specialist should be worn during the day for up to 6 weeks after childbirth. General leg and vascular exercises (such as back strengthening exercises) should be started or continued as soon as possible – sport (swimming, cycling and walking) can be performed from a vascular surgical perspective as soon as the gynaecologist allows it.

Am I allowed to use the sauna after childbirth?
As the connecting tissue only strengthens again slowly after pregnancy, and it takes around 6 months for the body to finish the repair processes, you should avoid going to the sauna during this period.