Blood Clots During Pregnancy: Is It Common?

blood clots during pregnancy

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When blood turns from a liquid to a solid, a blood clot (also known as thrombosis) occurs. After a scrape or cut, the body generally produces blood clots during pregnancy to halt the bleeding. Blood clots, on the other hand, can partially or fully stop blood flow in a blood vessel, such as a vein or artery.

A blood clot can happen to anybody, but you’re more likely to have a blood clot discharge during pregnancy and for the first three months following giving birth to your kid. The majority of women who have blood clotting problems have healthy pregnancies. However, some pregnant women may experience difficulties as a result of these illnesses. They can kill both the mother and the infant in extreme situations.

Testing and Therapy for Both You and Your Child.

Tell your health care provider at a preconception checkup (before pregnancy) or your first prenatal care appointment if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant and have had blood clot difficulties in the past.

Speak with your provider if you or someone in your family has had difficulties with blood clots, such as a parent, brother, or sister. It’s possible that blood clots run in your family. You can also request a blood test from your doctor to determine if you have thrombophilia. This is a medical issue that makes it more likely for you to form irregular blood clots during pregnancy.

Why Causes Blood Clots During Early Pregnancy?

Pregnant women are five times more likely than non-pregnant women to have a blood clot. This might be due to the following reasons:

Your blood clots more easily when you’re pregnant to prevent blood loss during labour and delivery.

Because the expanding baby pulls on blood arteries around the pelvis, blood flow to the legs in pregnant women may decrease later in pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, you may have limited mobility or immobility (not moving much), such as when you’re on bed rest or recuperating from childbirth.

Some Additional Factors That Put People at Risk for Blood Clots?

Certain factors make you more susceptible to developing a blood clot than others. These are referred to as risk factors. A risk factor does not guarantee that you will develop a blood clot during early pregnancy. However, it may improve your chances. Consult your healthcare professional about what you can do to lower your risk.

Blood clot discharge during pregnancy can be caused by a number of circumstances, including:

Having thrombophilia, high blood pressure, diabetes, or being overweight or obese, to name a few. Blood clots are more likely if you have a family history of clotting issues.

Taking some medications such as birth control pills or hormones that mimic estrogen. These medications might make you more prone to clotting. Birth control pills may not be safe for you to take if you’ve ever had blood clots or thrombophilias, or if you have a family history of these diseases. Other birth control choices should be discussed with your healthcare professional.

Smoking: Smoking affects the lining of blood arteries, which can lead to the formation of blood clots during pregnancy.

Undergoing surgery: such as a cesarean section (also called c-section). A c-section is a procedure in which your baby is delivered through an incision in your belly and uterus made by your obstetrician. Doctors should assist women to avoid blood clots during c-sections, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). This may include the use of compression devices that apply pressure to your legs during the c-section to assist keep your blood flowing.

You’re dehydrated: This indicates that your body lacks sufficient water. Dehydration causes your blood vessels to constrict and your blood to thicken, increasing your risk of blood clots.

Having a child: In the first 6 weeks after birth, you’re more likely to get a blood clot than women who haven’t just given birth.

What are the Risks of Blood Clots During Pregnancy?

If you have a blood clot or a kind of thrombophilia known as antiphospholipid syndrome (also known as APS), you may be more susceptible to consequences that might harm your health and the health of your baby, such as:

  • Blood clots in Placenta: The placenta develops in your uterus (womb) and provides nourishment and oxygen to the baby via the umbilical cord. A blood clot in the placenta might cut off blood supply to your baby, causing injury.
  • A heart attack: This occurs when a blood clot prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the heart. The heart cannot pump blood effectively without blood and oxygen, and the afflicted heart muscle may perish. A heart attack can result in permanent cardiac damage or even death.
  • Intrauterine growth restriction: This is a kind of growth limitation that occurs when a woman is (also called IUGR). When your kid is growing badly in the pregnancy, this is called gestational diabetes.
  • Miscarriage: When a baby dies in the womb before the 20th week of pregnancy, it is called a miscarriage.
  • Insufficiency of the placenta: When the placenta does not function properly, your baby receives less food and oxygen.
  • Preeclampsia: This is a condition that occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy or shortly after delivery. When a pregnant woman has both proteins in her urine and excessive blood pressure, this is known as proteinuria.
  • Prebirth:. When your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is known as preterm labor.

Embolism of the lungs (also called PE). An embolism is a blood clot that travels from one part of the body to another. A PE occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs. PE can harm your bodily organs and create low oxygen levels in your blood. It’s a medical emergency and a primary cause of pregnancy-related mortality. PE can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Breathing problems
  • Heartbeats that are too fast or too irregular
  • Pain in the chest
  • Fainting
  • Coughing blood.
  • Stillbirth. When a baby dies in the womb before birth but after 20 weeks of pregnancy, this is known as a stillbirth.

Some of the other symptoms are:

Stroke: When a blood clot stops a blood artery bringing blood to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts open, this happens. Strokes occur in roughly 8 out of every 100,000 women during pregnancy and delivery. Strokes can be fatal or create long-term harm to the body.

Thrombosis: When a blood clot develops in a blood artery and stops blood flow, this occurs. It usually occurs in the deep veins of the legs, although it can also occur in other parts of the body:

Thrombosis of the cerebral veins (also called CVT): When a blood clot develops in a vein in the brain, this occurs. CVT can result in a stroke. Headaches, eyesight issues, and seizures are some of the signs and symptoms.

Thrombosis of the deep veins (also called DVT): When a blood clot develops in a deep vein in the body, generally in the lower calf or thigh, this occurs. Ultrasound or other imaging tests can be used to identify DVT. Warmth and tenderness around the vein, as well as discomfort, swelling, or skin redness in the afflicted region, are possible signs and symptoms.

Thromboembolism of the veins (also called VTE): When a blood clot breaks off and travels via the bloodstream to crucial organs such as the brain, lungs, or heart, this occurs. DVT and PE are examples of this condition. VTEs can cause a stroke or a heart attack by blocking blood arteries in the brain or heart.

What are the Treatments for These Ailments?

To determine if you have a blot clot or clotting issue, your physician may utilize tests like ultrasonography or magnetic resonance imaging (commonly known as MRI). Ultrasound creates an image of a baby in the womb using sound waves and a computer screen. MRI creates a crisp image of the interior of the body using magnets and computers. These tests are non-invasive and risk-free for both you and your child.

If you’re pregnant and have a clotting disorder, you may need more prenatal care check ups than women who don’t have these blood clotting disorders. Your physician will check your blood pressure and may conduct additional tests, such as blood tests, to monitor your health during these sessions.

Your doctor will also do tests on your kid while he or she is still in the womb, such as:

Ultrasound to monitor your baby’s development and growth. She may use a Doppler ultrasound to monitor the blood flow in your baby’s umbilical artery, which is a blood vessel in the umbilical cord. Your infant is connected to the placenta through the umbilical cord. It transports food and oxygen to the foetus from the placenta.

Monitoring the foetal heart rate (also called a nonstress test or NST). This test measures your baby’s heart rate while in the womb and how it varies when he or she moves. This test is used by your doctor to ensure that your baby is getting adequate oxygen.

During pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe heparin, a blood thinner (low-molecular-weight heparin or unfractionated heparin). If you have APS, your doctor may prescribe heparin in addition to low-dose aspirin. Your healthcare physician may also recommend you to a hematologist. This is a doctor that specializes in blood disorders. 

Your physician may continue to treat you with heparin after you give birth. Alternatively, she may prescribe warfarin, a blood thinner. Even if you’re breastfeeding, warfarin is safe to take after pregnancy. Warfarin is not recommended for use during pregnancy since it has the potential to cause birth abnormalities. During the first 21-42 days following delivery, avoid using combination hormonal birth control techniques. DVT risk is greatest in the first 21 days.

How to Securely Keep Up With Prenatal Care Appointments?

Your prenatal care visits may vary as a result of the coronavirus disease pandemic of 2019 (COVID-19). Inquire with your doctor about how he plans to monitor your health and do the necessary tests while keeping you and your baby safe from COVID-19.

Using telehealth or telemedicine, providers are making efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Telehealth, often known as telemedicine, is a type of health visit in which you communicate with your provider over the phone or by video call rather than visiting his office. For a telehealth appointment, you will need a phone, tablet, or computer, as well as internet connectivity in some situations.

If you are unable to have telehealth sessions due to a lack of equipment or any other reason, inform your clinician. Ask any questions you have about staying on top of your ultrasounds and other exams while avoiding COVID-19.

How to Lower My Blood Clot Risk?

Understand the symptoms and indications of blood clots during pregnancy. You may feel swelling, discomfort, or tenderness on an afflicted limb such as a leg or arm that is not caused by an injury, warm skin when you touch it, or redness and discoloration. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Discuss your risk with your healthcare physician. Tell your provider if you or a family member, such as a parent, brother, or sister, has experienced blood clots before.

On long travels, get up and stretch. Try to exercise your legs often if you are sitting for more than 4 hours on a journey. You are free to walk about if you are able. If you can’t, try sitting leg stretches such as straightening your legs and rotating your ankles to move your toes toward and away from you. You may also bring your knee to your chest and hold it there for 15 seconds with your hands.

Reduce your risk of blood clots during early by following important travel recommendations. Drinking enough fluids, such as water, wearing loose-fitting clothing, or wearing special stockings that compress your legs below the knee are all good options. Before you attempt these stockings, see your healthcare physician.

Follow your doctor’s advice during your pregnancy and after you’ve given birth. Your doctor may prescribe blood thinners or request that you come in for additional prenatal care visits.

Conclusion

Light bleeding is common in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, if you encounter any bleeding while pregnant, you should consult your obstetrician-gynecologist. They can rule out a pregnancy problem or an underlying ailment as the source of your bleeding.

Pregnancy is a wonderful time, but it also comes with a lot of unknowns and fears, especially if it’s your first time. There’s usually nothing to be concerned about if you have minor bleeding early in your pregnancy. Some bleeding is typical, especially after implantation. It’s still crucial to keep your obstetrician-gynecologist up to date. Call your healthcare practitioner right away if your bleeding becomes heavy or accompanied by cramps or discomfort.

Blood Clots During Pregnancy FAQs

1) Are blood clots normal in early pregnancy?

Women can pass blood clots vaginally during pregnancy, which is a natural cause for anxiety. Women may bleed during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first three months) owing to implantation (when the fertilized egg adheres to the uterine wall) or early pregnancy loss (miscarriage).

2) Do blood clots always mean a miscarriage?

You're probably having a miscarriage if you're experiencing heavy bleeding, clots, and crampy pain. When the majority of the pregnancy tissue has been passed, the bleeding, clots, and discomfort should subside. If the bleeding continues to be significant, you may require more therapy.

3) What happens if you have a blood clot while pregnant?

Although DVT is uncommon in pregnancy, it is a dangerous illness that can be deadly if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs. Be aware of the signs and symptoms, as well as the dangers. If you suspect DVT, contact your healthcare professional straight once. Early intervention can help you and your baby stay safe.

4) Can blood clots harm the unborn baby?

Blood clots can potentially harm an unborn child. Anticoagulation is used throughout pregnancy to help ensure a healthy birth and avoid miscarriage. Blood clots can form in the umbilical cord and beneath the placenta.

5) Can you pass clots and not miscarry?

The pattern of bleeding: Bleeding that grows thicker and heavier might signal a miscarriage. Cramping: Cramping, especially when it establishes a distinct pattern, is an indication of a miscarriage. Large blood clots or tissue are passed by some, but not all, women who have a miscarriage.

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