Blood Clot During Pregnancy
The scoop on why you're more prone to dangerous blood clots during pregnancy, how to know if you could be at risk and what to do if you get one.
What is a blood clot?
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).