Varicose vein development during pregnancy is a common occurrence for a number of reasons. First, a pregnant woman’s body produces extra blood to keep the baby healthy. This extra blood adds pressure to blood vessels, especially the ones in the legs that have to work extra hard to battle gravity and carry blood to the heart. Pelvic area veins are also under added duress due to the pressure that the uterus puts on the area late in a pregnancy. Add to this the fact that a pregnant woman’s body produces extra progesterone—a hormone that dilates blood vessels—and it becomes clear that varicose veins are a very real threat for pregnant women.

There are, however, a few ways to help prevent varicose veins during pregnancy:

Sleep on Your Left Side

This can help keep your circulation strong and lessen the pressure on your main blood vessels.

Watch Your Weight

Gaining extra weight during pregnancy puts extra stress on all of your body’s systems, including your blood vessels. Staying within the weight gain range that your doctor suggests for a healthy pregnancy can help you avoid this extra pressure.

Wear Comfortable Clothes That Fit

Wearing clothes that fit well and don’t cut off circulation is key. Avoid socks with elastic bands that prohibit blood flow and tight belts that may do the same. Additionally, avoiding tight fitting shoes is an easy way to combat varicose vein development.

Get Some Exercise

It’s important to keep blood flowing and maintain healthy circulation to avoid varicose veins. Taking a walk around the block even once a day will help with that circulation.