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Pregnancy is an exciting time, but there can be significant challenges and risks for the future mother. Aside from swelling, especially later in the pregnancy, there is an increased risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis (DVT)) during the pregnancy and for several weeks post-delivery. The increased risk is partly hormonal, partly the increased blood volume and partly the increased resistance to the outflow of blood from the legs; secondary to the gravid uterus pressing down on the pelvic veins.
Our team of healthcare professionals at Vascular Vein Centers wants you to have the understanding you need for a smooth pregnancy, and it starts with knowing the link between pregnancy and DVT.
Deep vein thrombosis refers to blood clots that form in the deep veins, generally in your legs. The clot blocks blood flow in the affected vein and can cause your leg to swell and occasionally the skin becomes shiny and discolored. In many cases, the effects are so mild the future mother doesn’t realize there is a problem and thinks the swelling is normal. Greater swelling in one leg versus the other should not be ignored. A DVT can cause symptoms, including pain and even difficulty walking.
A blood clot on its own is cause for concern. What makes a DVT particularly concerning is the possibility that a clot can break off and pass to the lungs (a pulmonary embolus). This can be life threatening.
Pregnant women are five times
more vulnerable to deep vein blood clots compared to women who aren’t pregnant. As mentioned above, this is multifactorial- hormonal changes, increased blood volume and resistance to blood flow from the legs due to the enlarged uterus.
Women are also at an increased risk of DVT during childbirth and up to three months post-delivery. This has much to do with lack of mobility as a result of bed rest and recovery after giving birth, hormones and increased blood volume. Immobility can decrease blood flow from your legs thus predisposing you to blood clots.
Blood clots during and after pregnancy are preventable. The first step is to know your risks. Risk factors for developing blood clots include:
The first step is to talk to your obstetrician and create a blood clot prevention plan so that you can go through your pregnancy armed with the information and resources you need to avoid blood clots. Your doctor may recommend certain exercises, stretches, compression stockings, possibly lying on the left side and not letting your weight increase too much.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of DVT can make all the difference. Things to look out for include:
If you experience any of these, alert your doctor. Early detection is key.
If you’re newly pregnant or planning to become pregnant, creating a blood clot prevention plan with your doctor can relieve anxiety and potential risk. Our expert providers at Vascular Vein Centers are here and ready to assist.
Don’t let a DVT get in the way of a happy, healthy pregnancy. We can fit compression and help with your pregnancy plans. Contact one of our many conveniently located Central Florida offices today to schedule an appointment.