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Blood circulation problems during pregnancy: why it happens and how we can prevent it

Throughout pregnancy, many physical changes occur that usually lead to certain discomforts that affect the well-being of the mother. Among them, blood circulation problems are especially frequent.

We explain why they occur, how they manifest and how we can prevent blood circulation problems during pregnancy.

How are circulation problems manifested and what are they due to during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, for the uterus and the fetus to receive enough oxygen, more liters of blood circulate through the woman’s body. This increase in blood volume, which is around 40%, can cause the veins to dilate and varicose veins to appear .

Varicose veins are swollen and often painful veins that appear in those areas of the body that bear the brunt of gravity, such as the legs, vulva and anus (hemorrhoids).

But the increase in blood volume also causes the tissues to accumulate fluid , leading to the appearance of edema. This common discomfort is characterized by a feeling of heaviness in the body, tiredness and the clearest symptom, swollen legs (and sometimes also the hands and face).

This discomfort usually increases at the end of the day, as well as in the summer due to high temperatures. Normally, during pregnancy you can retain up to a liter of fluid per day, but the edema tends to disappear at night.

To all this we must add the hormonal changes produced in pregnancy , especially the increase in progesterone, which also contribute to the appearance of edema and varicose veins.

Which are the risk factors?

Although any pregnant woman can present these problems, women who already suffered from them before becoming pregnant, as well as those with kidney and heart diseases, overweight and sedentary lifestyle are more likely to suffer from blood circulation problems and fluid retention during pregnancy.

Seven tips to prevent blood circulation problems in pregnancy

practice physical exercise

The practice of regular exercise during pregnancy (if there is no risk that contraindicates it) is very beneficial in many ways, also to improve blood circulation.

There are some more suitable exercises during this stage that can help you, such as swimming, yoga or walking. Also from home you can carry out simple beneficial exercise routines to avoid any blood circulation problem.

Here are some of the leg exercises you can do when lying down :

– When you rest lying down, raise your legs above the level of your heart and perform exercises with your legs, such as pedaling simulating that you are on a bicycle or tracing circles in the air with your feet to activate circulation.

– Also lying on your back, raise your legs little by little, bending your knees, trying to form a 90º angle with your trunk . It’s easier to do it with one leg first and the other second.

– Lying on your side, raise the leg that is up , stretched like a scissors and repeat the exercise several times and changing sides.

Also while sitting or even standing it is possible to activate the legs and ankles to avoid circulation problems with these simple exercises:

– Sitting with your legs together and stretched out, flex and extend both feet alternately , bringing the toes forward and backward.

– Sitting barefoot with a tennis ball at your feet, go around it, pass it from the tip of the foot to the heel.

– Standing, support the heels and toes alternately. Without moving from the site you can also simulate walking by raising your knees a lot.

Take care of your diet and hydration

Eating a healthy diet with rich hydration also helps keep circulation flowing and thus prevent circulation problems. Do not forget to include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as diuretic foods that help prevent fluid retention and edema, such as asparagus, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and pineapple, among others.

Likewise, it is very important to drink plenty of water , as it helps purify the body of toxins. You can also resort to natural juices, fruit and vegetable smoothies, soups or cold infusions.

Don’t spend too much time standing or sitting

Avoid spending too much time sitting or standing in the same position. It is good to get up frequently, move feet and legs. While we remain seated, it is not good to have our legs crossed because of the pressure that is exerted on the limbs.

Rest with your legs elevated

During rest raise your legs on cushions, so that they are at least 15 centimeters above the rest of the body. It is not recommended to lie down or sit and place your legs on a table , since in this way we further compress the blood vessels

You can also lie on the floor (or in bed) and place your legs against a wall for about 20 minutes. This posture favors blood return and also increases fluid retention.


Relaxing massages during pregnancy can also contribute to better circulation. To do this, choose refreshing creams and massage especially the feet and legs.

You can also go to a physiotherapy center specializing in pregnancy for lymphatic drainage. It is a type of massage that is carried out from the feet to the thighs, helping to eliminate tissue stagnation.

Choose suitable clothing and footwear

Do not wear clothing that oppresses the body, or a rubber band around the waist, legs or ankles. Choose light fabric garments, preferably linen or cotton.

As for footwear, avoid tight shoes and heels (especially at the end of pregnancy), and always opt for shoes made with natural materials.

Avoid extreme heat

Avoid high temperatures , both exposure to direct sunlight, as well as saunas and baths that are too hot, since excessive heat dilates the veins. In summer, try to always be in cool places and exercise or go outside in the less hot times.

Cold showers are one of the best remedies to prevent blood circulation problems, as cold water decompresses the tension in the blood vessels, promotes blood circulation and reduces swelling.

In short, despite the fact that circulation problems during pregnancy are very common , it is possible to try to prevent them or at least minimize their effects by following an active and healthy lifestyle.

However, if the discomfort does not allow you to have a normal rhythm or you have any doubts about it, do not forget to consult with your midwife or your gynaecologist.

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