Blood Clots During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Mar 08, 2018

March is Bblood_clots_2.jpgleeding Disorders Awareness Month, which makes it a perfect time to discuss blood clots during pregnancy. During pregnancy, increased estrogen levels, lack of activity due to bed rest or general discomfort, and all of the fun things that come along with the changes happening within your body put you at a higher risk for developing blood clots.

About Blood Clots During Pregnancy

According to the American Pregnancy Association, only one or two pregnant women out of every 1,000 will develop a blood clot. These women are most likely to develop the blood clot during their first three months or within the first six weeks after giving birth. Although they are rare, blood clots can be extremely dangerous and even fatal to both you and your baby.

Blood clots during pregnancy usually develop deep within the leg or pelvic region and are known as a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When DVT is caught in the early stages, treatment can begin to safely break down the clot. Without treatment, the blood clot can break apart into large clumps that can travel to the lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism, or to the placenta. A pulmonary embolism can be fatal to both mom and baby, while a clot that travels to the placenta can cut off blood supply to your baby. 

Complications Caused by Blood Clots During Pregnancy

  • A blood clot that travels to the placenta
  • A blood clot that travels to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Miscarriage

Risks Factors For Blood Clots

  • A personal or family history of DVT
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Being over the age of 35
  • Being overweight
  • Traveling long distances while pregnant
  • Being sedentary for long periods
  • Being pregnant with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • Having had a caesarian section in the past
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Blood Clots

Although blood clots are unlikely, there are few symptoms or warning signs that may indicate the presence of a blood clot. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important for you to contact your doctor or midwife immediately. Symptoms of blood clots during pregnancy include:

  • Swelling or pain in one leg
  • Pain behind the knee and an area that may feel hot to the touch
  • Pain in one leg that gets worse when you walk
  • Veins that seem to be larger than normal

Treatment and Prevention of Blood Clots During Pregnancy

Treatment for blood clots usually includes preventive medications. These medications, known as blood thinners, stop existing clots from getting bigger and help prevent any new clots from forming.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Developing a Blood Clot

  • Stay active
  • Be sure to stretch your legs on long car rides at least every hour
  • Decrease the amount of salt in your diet
  • Avoid sitting with your legs crossed
  • If you are on bed rest, avoid placing pillows under your knees, and ask your doctor for exercises that can help increase the blood flow in your legs
  • Avoid cigarette smoke

Be sure to make your provider aware if you have any symptoms or even risk factors of developing a blood clot. This allows your doctor to closely monitor your progress and to be proactive in preventive care. If at any time during your pregnancy you notice any changes that have no explanation, please be sure to communicate that to your medical team.


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