Blood clots that occur in deep veins of the legs or the pelvic area is known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. When the DVT breaks and it travels to the lungs it is called PE or primary embolism. Blood clots in the lungs is life-threatening and one of the most common causes of death during pregnancy. The blood clots can also be dangerous if it forms inside the placenta which can block the flow of blood to the baby.
Why is the risk more in pregnancy?
The risk of blood clots in women is 5 times higher during the pregnancy stage, childbirth and the three months after pregnancy than in normal women. During pregnancy the blood clots to reduce the blood loss at the time of labor and childbirth. The blood flow to the legs will also be reduced due to the pressure on blood vessels around the pelvic applied by the growing baby.
Factors that increase the risk of getting blood clots-
- Maternal age – when the expectant mother is 35 years or older
- Prolonged bed rest, if advised by the doctor for any medical reason, the chances of blood clots occurring are high as mobility has reduced.
- Other medical issues like heart or lung disease high blood pressure, diabetes
- Had a personal history of blood clots in a previous pregnancy or a family history.
- If the mother has undergone a csec, it doubles the risk of having blood clots
- The expectant mother became pregnant through fertility treatments using hormones.
Signs and symptoms of DVT
- Swelling of the limb or pain which is not related to the injury.
- Part of skin that is warm, red or discoloured.
Signs and symptoms of PE
- Breathing problem
- Coughing with blood.
- Chest pain that keeps worsening.
- Irregular heartbeat
How can it be blood clots be prevented?
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Exercise as recommended by the doctor.
- If travelling for a long duration, always take a break between and take a small walk or leg stretching when seated.
Treatment for blood clots during pregnancy
If the presence of blood clots or chances of it occurring have been identified at an early stage it is treatable. Certain anticoagulants medicines will be provided which are safe to have during pregnancy. They may also be advised by the doctor if the expectant mother needs to take bed rest for a long duration, in some cases, due to medical reasons.
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