Varicose veins • Varicose veins in pregnancy are quite common, especially in the calves. • One can develop varicose veins in the labia and groin area too. • Varicose veins of all forms are generally very uncomfortable with aching in the affected body part. • There is often an inherent family weakness in the circulatory system, especially the elasticity and strength of the muscular sheath of the blood vessel wall. • For varicose veins in the legs, genital area and piles, rest often in between activity. • Put your feet up and do not cross legs at the ankles or knees so that circulation is not further impeded if you have varicose veins. • Firm supportive stockings are sometimes necessary to support circulation and soothe pain, although these can be very uncomfortable in pregnancy especially in hot weather. • Occasionally lie with your buttocks up on a pillow or two to relieve the pressure of genital veins and piles. • Do this exercise for considerable relief from varicose veins in the legs: lie flat on the floor with your buttocks up against the wall and your legs extended up the wall; gradually open your legs against the wall until you feel stretching of the inner thigh muscles; draw them together again; keep your feet against the wall and draw your knees down towards your chest and then gradually return your legs to the starting position; repeat ten times 2-3x/day. • Genital varicose veins respond well to a firm pressure pad worn inside one’s panty. • Ice packs wrapped in a face flannel and applied to any bulging painful area with varicose veins gives some relief. • Exercise regularly, eat at least three pieces of fresh fruit a day and drink sufficient fluids if prone to varicose veins. • See your doctor if the area where varicose veins are located looks bruised, is very painful or if you feel unwell and abnormally short of breath. Piles • Piles (or haemorrhoids) are a form of varicose vein. • Piles or haemorrhoids are varicose veins of the anal region and are more common in pregnancy. • Piles may protrude externally or remain inside the rectum. • If you pass fresh blood with bowel movements or notice tags of skin or even grape-like clusters protruding from the anus, these are piles. • Piles burn, itch and are very uncomfortable and usually become worse during pregnancy and labour if not treated. • Exercise regularly to tone all body tissues as piles are then less likely. • Avoid constipation to further decrease the risk of piles. • Drink water liberally. • Take care not to pick up excess weight in pregnancy to lessen the chance of piles forming. • Tell your doctor or midwife if you have piles as this may affect the type of birth you can have.
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