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Varicose veins – the pregnancy symptom people rarely talk about

Pregnancy is no walk in the park. If anything, it’s an exhausting marathon, with countless obstacles to push through before you reach the finish line. This is Rosie’s third time going the distance and, as amazing as she’s been throughout this pregnancy, it’s really taken its toll on her, with painful varicose veins being the worst symptom of all. Though she had some during her second pregnancy with Hugh, this time around they’ve appeared all over her legs. And it’s been horrible seeing her in so much discomfort.

The weird thing is nobody ever seems to talk about varicose veins as a pregnancy symptom. But after looking into it and speaking to others in the same boat, it turns out they’re more common than you might think. So, Rosie wanted to write this blog. Not looking for sympathy, but in the hope it might give some comfort to all the other mothers and mums-to-be out there who carry the same scars of motherhood.

“Not long to go now!” That’s what most people say to me these days. While it’s true and I’m glad I haven’t got longer to go (five more weeks of pregnancy seems like an age), on the flip side I don’t want it to be over.

This baby is our last. I feel like my body can’t do another pregnancy, especially with three other children to look after. So, I won’t ever be pregnant again. I won’t have this privilege and incredibly special bond with something that only I can care for and nurture.

Pregnancy is a funny old thing. I wish that I breezed through it, glowing, and enjoying every second of this opportunity I’ve been blessed with. But I haven’t! The first four months were really tough. There’s a silence you feel you have to keep. Then there’s the continuous nausea, which kept me awake at night and dominated my days, interspersed with the odd day when I’d feel more together.

Add to that, the weird pregnancy symptoms; like the all over body itch and constant splitting headaches. Then, as you get through the second trimester and into the third, the weight of your baby starts to affect you. For me, that was when my anaemia really took hold, draining me of every last bit of energy I had.

But the big one – and the whole reason I am writing this – is my veins…varicose veins all over my legs and vulvar varicosities, with more popping up daily.

If you have them and are wondering if you’re the only one…you’re not! I’ve reached out to a few people in the same boat, and there are many more of us than you’d imagine; particularly given how little is said about them in the usual lists of pregnancy symptoms. 

From the moment I get out of bed in the morning, my veins hurt. My legs itch. My skin is laced with blue lines, sometimes almost black patches. I feel very old, and my legs look older. Like an old lady who’s resorted to wearing extra thick nude tights to conceal her age-damaged legs. When I showed them to the midwife the other day, she winced and looked at me pitifully.

Things may get a bit better when the baby arrives. Some of the veins might lighten and the swelling should go. But I’ve been told they’ll never go completely, and the pain will still be there on busy days. At the moment, I’m finding this news tricky to deal with. I’ve never had smashing legs, but now I feel that I want to chop them off!

It makes me feel sad to think that these are the cards I’ve been dealt, and this is the price I have to pay for my three beautiful babies.

And that’s it really, that’s what I need to focus on – my children and the joy and privilege of being their mother. Not the visual effects of carrying them for nine months. 

I hope that in time my legs will reappear from leggings, and I’ll embrace the sun in a shorter dress. And I know that if I ever see a lady with blue legs I’ll know why, what she’s been through and feel her pain, while also celebrating the fact she’s let me see them and not hidden them away through self-consciousness and embarrassment, as I currently do.

A little side note to this is, please don’t feel sorry for me or worry about anything I’ve said. I’m an extremely fortunate person. I’ve got my health, a wonderful family and friends, and have been so lucky to have my babies.

I just feel that varicose veins and vulvar varicosities are never verbalised as pregnancy symptoms and most people don’t know what they are or how many others are living with them throughout their pregnancy. There are so many glamorous images out there of what we think pregnancy should be, but, in reality, it’s really, really not. 

So, here’s to all the veiny mums and mums to be, whose legs show the scars of having our babies.

And for anyone who’s experienced what I have, I’d love to hear from you…even just knowing you’re not the only one is a great comfort to us all.


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