Blood Clots During Pregnancy

4 min read

Written by Pradeep

Pradeep

blood clots during pregnancy

Blood clots during pregnancy can cause health problems in pregnancy but there are ways to prevent and protect you and your baby. The good news is that problems associated with blood clots during pregnancy are extremely rare. The bad news is that if unnoticed or left untreated, then it can lead to serious complications.

So this is something you need to be aware of but warrants no cause of panic. It is important to know the signs of a blood clot and factors that may increase your risk for a blood clot. This article sheds some light on this topic.

In This Article 

What Is A Blood Clot? Are There Different Kinds Of Blood Clots?

Our blood is premeditated to clot. It is our body’s mechanism to not lose too much blood. When your hand gets a cut, for instance, your blood starts sending platelets to the cut as a means to “plug” the blood flow.

This is all good, as blood clots help you not bleed to death. Blood clots, however, become a problem when they form inside a vein as opposed to the surface of your skin. This condition is venous thrombosis.

Am I At An Increased Risk Of Blood Clot During Pregnancy?

While blood clots during pregnancy are rare (only one in a thousand pregnant women are impacted), a pregnant woman is more at risk of getting a blood clot than a non-pregnant woman.

This is because:

  • Increased estrogen level during pregnancy increases the clotting property of the blood. This is to ensure a pregnant woman does not lose too much blood during pregnancy or during childbirth. However, this “increased clotting capability” can result in thrombosis.
  • Decreased blood flow to the legs due to a growing stomach also results in clots in the legs and pelvic region (the two areas where blood clots are most often seen in pregnant women).
  • Inactivity due to C-section.
  • Damage to veins in pelvic region due to normal delivery.

Factors That Increases The Risk of Blood Clots During Pregnancy

Factors That Increases The Risk of Blood Clots During Pregnancy

The risk of blood clots continues to increase throughout the pregnancy and peaks in the first month after your delivery. That is because of increased levels of estrogen that make the blood clot easily.

Other factors that increase the risk of blood clots during pregnancy are:

  • You are 35+
  • You smoke
  • When you are expecting multiples
  • You are overweight
  • You or your family have a history of thrombosis
  • When you travel long distances during pregnancy
  • You have had repeated miscarriages before
  • You have to stay in bed for more than 3 days after giving birth

Are Blood Clots During Pregnancy Dangerous?

Yes, if it is left untreated. An untreated blood clot can break away from its location and move to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism which is a dangerous situation for you. Similarly, if the clot is formed in the placenta, it can be dangerous to the baby as it can cut off blood supply to the fetus.

Pregnant women generally develop blood clots in the deep veins of the legs, known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. You may notice that one of your legs is more unusually swollen, has turned reddish or bluish, or has pain in the knee. DVT needs to be treated as it can lead to serious complications.

How Will I Know If I Have A Blood Clot?

How Will I Know If I Have A Blood Clot_

If you have a blood clot in your legs or pelvic regions, you will notice the following:

  • Pain and swelling in the affected leg (or sometimes both the legs)
  • Bulging of veins in your legs
  • Change in skin color (skin tends to go red)
  • Warm feeling near the area of the clot

If you have a clot in your lungs, you will feel breathlessness, chest pain and might even collapse. This is a dangerous situation and you need to be moved to a hospital on an emergency basis.

If you are worried about having a blood clot or are not able to read the signs properly, then you can always talk to your doctor. An ultrasound of the affected area will reveal a clot. If the clot is in the lungs, then a spiral CT scan would be required.

How Are Blood Clots Treated During Pregnancy?

A pregnant woman diagnosed with venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism needs to take a pregnancy-safe anticoagulant medicine that will limit blood clotting capability. If the clot is closer to the surface of the skin, a warm press (using a warm bath or hot water bag) can also help.

Can I Prevent Blood Clots During Pregnancy?

Yes, you can! Follow the below tips to prevent blood clots:

  • Stop smoking
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Ensure you do not become overweight during pregnancy – eat healthily
  • Start exercising regularly (check with your doctor first)
  • Do not sit idle for more than 20 minutes. Whether you have a desk job or travel long, make sure you move around every half an hour
  • Reduce salt intake
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