Pregnancy can be an exciting time. However, the risks and challenges it brings along for an expectant mother can be many. Learn about blood clots, risk factors, and tips for preventing yourself and your baby during pregnancy and after delivery.
Why are pregnant women at higher risk for a blood clot?
The presence of clots can block the normal blood flow through the veins causing swollen legs and occasionally the skin becomes discolored and shiny. These symptoms can be so mild that a pregnant woman may consider them as normal.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a condition when blood clots are formed in the deep veins, mostly in the legs, calf, or pelvis. Venous thrombosis (blood clot in a vein) is still uncommon in pregnancy or in the first 6 weeks after birth, occurring in only 1-2 in 1,000 women. However, many studies have reported that pregnancy increases your risk of a DVT, with the highest risk being immediately after your delivery.
During pregnancy your increased risk of developing blood clots compared to a woman who is not pregnant can be attributed to how your body changes while preparing for the birth of your baby and afterwards and how it can make you more susceptible to clots being formed.
1. In the later stages of pregnancy blood flow to the legs may be restricted as blood vessels around the pelvis are pressed upon by the growing baby.
2. Immobility while recovering post delivery can limit the blood flow in the legs and arms
When blood flow is restricted, some of the cells may clot and it can increase a woman’s risk for DVT.
A DVT can occur at any time during your pregnancy, including the first 3 months and hence it is important to let your physician be aware if you are at risk. Several additional risk factors exist which may increase a pregnant woman’s chance of developing blood clots like:
- Family history of blood clots or clotting disorders
- Complications during childbirth or C- Section delivery
- Diabetes, Heart, or lung conditions while being pregnant
Varicose veins during pregnancy
During pregnancy the increased blood volume may cause the veins to enlarge and may damage the one-way valves in the legs, leading to the development of varicose veins. Preventive measures for varicose veins are essential. Untreated severe varicose veins can be a major risk factor for the occurrence of DVT.
Can I reduce the risk of getting a DVT?
Let your doctor know if you have a clotting disorder or a family history of blood clots. Regular exercise, effective weight management, elevating your legs, and wearing compression stockings can significantly reduce the risk of varicose veins.
A blood test may be necessary to decide if you have thrombophilia, which increases your risk of blood clots. If diagnosed, your doctor may start you on blood thinners. Heparin, an anticoagulant used to thin the blood, may be administered as injections.
For more information, call your doctor at Avis Vascular Centre and discuss your concerns.
For Appointment Call: 9989527715