40 % of pregnant women develop varicose veins. This is largely due to hormonal changes that take place. Of those women who develop varicose veins, they begin in the first trimester 75% of the time, in the second trimester 20% of the time, and in the third trimester 5% of the time. Elevating the legs during the first and second trimesters helps to lower pressure in the veins and therefore reduce the pain and swelling associated with varicose veins. During the third trimester, it is most helpful to lie on your left side in order to take the weight of the uterus off of the inferior vena cava (the large vein in our abdomen that carries blood back to the heart.)
Pregnant women all retain fluid during pregnancy, and after delivery, leg elevation helps to remove the extra fluid.
Visit the Leg Elevation Classroom to learn why leg elevation lowers venous pressure and reduces leg swelling.