Blood Clots During Pregnancy
Blood Clots During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Blood clots are serious concerns and even more so while you are pregnant. A blood clot during pregnancy has additional risks or concerns because of your developing baby. The good news is blood clots during pregnancy are rare and there is little need for concern.
However, there are steps you can take to further minimize your rise of experiencing them while you are pregnant.
What is a Blood Clot?
A blood clot occurs when your body sends cells, called platelets, to block the flow of blood. Normally, this occurs when you have a cut, to keep the injury from bleeding continuously. During pregnancy, your blood is more likely to clot as a safeguard against losing too much blood during labor.
However, a condition known as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), which happens when blood clots form in the legs and pelvic region, can occur and is linked with a number of serious health concerns. The good news is there are ways to both prevent DVT and to treat it after it occurs.
Also, blood clots affect only 1 or 2 pregnant women out of every 1,000, so there is no need for alarm, unless you feel you may be at risk.
What are the Causes of Blood Clots during Pregnancy?
Research has shown a number of possible causes of DVT, and it is important to note whether you fall into any of these categories. Women are most likely to experience a blood clot in their first three months of pregnancy or in the first six weeks after giving birth. If you believe you may be at risk for DVT, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.
- You or a close relative have experienced DVT before
- You smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke frequently
- You are over 35 years old
- You are overweight
- You travel long distances while pregnant
- You are expecting multiples
- You are sedentary for long periods of time
- You have a Cesarean section
What are the Signs of Blood Clots during Pregnancy?
Women tend to be more sensitive and aware of potential complications while they are pregnant. Although blood clots are unlikely, there are a few signs that can indicate the possibility of a blood clot.
- Swelling or pain in one leg
- Pain that worsens when you walk
- Veins that look larger than normal
What are the Risks of Blood Clots during Pregnancy?
DVT can seriously affect your pregnancy in a number of ways:
- Blood clots in the placenta
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism, which is when blood clots break off and are lodged in the lungs
How can you Prevent and Treat Blood Clots during Pregnancy?
Prevention of DVT is important, and can be achieved by a healthy lifestyle. Staying active is a crucial component in combating DVT, so check with your healthcare provider to see which activities and types of exercises you can do. Regular exercise improves circulation and can keep clots from forming. It is also important to eat healthily, and if you are currently smoking, you should stop immediately. It is important to notify your healthcare provider, if you feel you may be at risk of DVT.
If you have been diagnosed with DVT, you will most likely be treated with an anticoagulant, which hinders the blood from clotting as easily.
Last Update: 08/2015
Compiled from the following Resources:
Blood Clot Formation In Pregnancy: Causes & How To Prevent?
Blood clot is a very serious medical problem and more so if you are pregnant. A blood clot during pregnancy is fraught with further risks and anxieties attached to it because of the developing baby. Complications that could arise due to a blood clot are – blood clots in the placenta, stroke, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and even miscarriage.
Fortunately the condition is rather rare. You must also confer with your health care provider or OB/GYN and take certain steps to reduce your risk of experiencing them while pregnant.
Symptoms of Blood Clot during Pregnancy
A blood clot may manifest as:
- Swelling, discomfort and pain in your leg.
- The pain tends to aggravate whilst walking.
Causes Of Blood Clot During Pregnancy
Normally, a blood clot develops when your body sends platelets to stop the flow of blood at a site of injury. Usually, this occurs when you have a cut, to make sure that the bleeding stops. What’s more, during pregnancy, the blood is more prone to clotting as a safeguard against losing excessive amounts of blood during labor.
Deep vein thrombosis develops when blood clots form in the legs and pelvic region and is associated with a host of grave health concerns which need to be tackled promptly.
On the other hand, blood clots occur only in 1 to 2 pregnant women out of every 1,000, so you don’t need to get alarmed and anxious, unless you think you could be at risk. Thus it is very vital that you discuss with your OB/GYN.
Studies show that there are a number of likely causes and risk factors for the development of deep vein thrombosis, and it is essential to know whether you fall into any of these groups. A woman is most likely to experience a blood clot, during the first trimester of pregnancy or in the first six weeks after the child is born.
Risk factors for the development of blood clots are:
- You or a close relative has experienced deep vein thrombosis.
- You are 35 years of age or more.
- You smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke.
- You travel a lot during the pregnancy.
- You are overweight.
- You are having twins or triplets.
- You are sedentary for long intervals of time.
- You have a Caesarean.
How To Prevent Blood Clot During Pregnancy?
Preventing deep vein thrombosis is very important, and it can be easily achieved by adhering to a healthy lifestyle. Staying active is a necessary aspect of combating deep vein thrombosis, discuss with your OB/GYN and understand which activities and exercises you can do. Regular exercise enhances the circulation of blood and prevents clots from forming.
It is also imperative that you follow a healthy, wholesome diet plan. If you are a smoker, you need to stop immediately; also do not be exposed to second hand smoke. What’s more, you should inform your health care provider, if you feel that you may be at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
If you have been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, you will be treated with an anticoagulant, which prevents the blood from clotting too easily.
Blood Clot Risk During Pregnancy
Question of the Day:
Why are pregnant women more likely to form blood clots as compared to non-pregnant women?
Pregnancy is a big risk factor for the development of blood clots. The body experiences so many physiological changes during pregnancy, including increased amounts of hormones like estrogen circulating throughout the system. This can increase the concentration of clotting factors and heighten the propensity for blood clot development during pregnancy.
Additionally, as the uterus grows in size during pregnancy, more pressure is placed on certain vessels in the pelvis and lower extremities further heightening the risk for blood clots.
Do you want to learn more about blood clots? Check out my past interviews with CNN and Prevention about other risk factors for blood clot development. Both quick reads with great information.
Remember, if you have a concern about your risk for blood clots, see your doctor immediately!
Blood Clot During Pregnancy
A clot is formed by platelets in the blood clumping together to form a solid plug at the site of an injury, which reduces bleeding. Everyone’s blood is meant to clot (it’s how you keep from bleeding to death if you cut yourself while shaving). But during pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen means blood clots more readily. The clot itself isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s the location of the clot and what symptoms it may cause.
What are the signs of a blood clot?
In pregnant women, one of the primary areas for blood clots to form is in the deep veins of the legs. This is known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. You’ll notice this if one leg is more unusually swollen than the other. Other common symptoms include a pain behind the knee of a leg that feels warm to the touch. In other areas, you may feel pain due to a loss of oxygen to the region.
Are there any tests to determine if I have a blood clot?
In many cases, your doctor can look at the affected area through an ultrasound scan; if the blood clot is in the lungs, he can perform a spiral CT scan.
How did I get a blood clot?
All pregnant women are at risk, since estrogen levels naturally rise during pregnancy, but those who are put on bed rest, take a long flight or car trip, are obese, or have a genetic tendency to develop clots are all at higher risk.
How will my blood clot affect me and my baby?
The biggest danger of a blood clot is the risk that it can break off from its location and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal condition called pulmonary embolism. Blood clots can also be dangerous to your baby — if they form inside the placenta, they may cut off blood flow to the fetus (see next page for treatment and prevention tips).
What’s the best way to treat a blood clot?
If you develop a blood clot during pregnancy, you’ll likely be given a medication that’s an anticoagulant, that is, it helps prevent the blood from clotting. Warm compresses can also help to treat a clot that’s close to the skin’s surface.
What can I do to prevent a blood clot from forming?
If you’re taking a long trip (more than few hours), get up every 20 minutes or so and move about (you’ll probably be hitting the bathroom about that often anyway, depending on how late into the pregnancy you’re going). Cut down on the amount of salt in your diet, which can cause swelling, and try not to cross your legs for long periods of time. If you’re stuck home on bed rest, don’t use pillows under your knees and ask your doctor if there are any exercises you can do to cut down on your risk.
What do other pregnant moms do when they have blood clots?
“I’m pregnant through IUI and have some blood clotting issues in my uterus. My perinatal doctor put me on Lovenox and baby aspirin and doesn’t seem too concerned. I had some severe bleeding around week 12.”
“I had a blood clot in my uterus. I bled around week 7, but baby was fine. The doctor put me on a ton of prescription folic acid and a baby aspirin per day. As of now, the clot is shrinking and barely noticeable.”
“I was diagnosed last week with multiple blood clots in superficial veins. Without testing to see whether I might have a blood clotting disorder, the on-call OB wants me to take a baby aspirin daily until 20 weeks.”
Are there any other resources for blood clots?