Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs 10 times more frequently in pregnant women compared with other populations, particularly in the first six weeks after childbirth. Due to this, expectant moms should be aware of the symptoms.
DVT is most famously known for its occurrence after long-haul flights, dubbed economy class syndrome, potentially fatal blood clots would develop after long periods of sitting in cramped conditions with little leg room. However, it can also develop during pregnancy. DVTs in pregnancy occur around two in 1000 cases.
Women who have experienced DVT in pregnancy may go on to develop post-thrombotic syndrome, vein expert Veniti stated.
Why are Pregnant Women Prone to Blood Clots?
Blood clotting proteins increase during pregnancy. This is nature’s plan to prevent excessive bleeding during the birth. Weight gain and an expanded uterus also put extra strain on the veins. Other risk factors include smoking, a history of varicose veins, high blood pressure or vascular disease or use of the contraceptive pill.
Having a baby by cesarean section may also cause clots, so all women who have a surgical delivery are offered injections of blood thinning medication.
Symptoms of DVT
Signs of a DVT are:
- Pain and cramping in one leg
- Enlarged veins.
If a blood clot breaks off, it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, so anti-coagulants are given to prevent this. Pregnant women are also advised not to smoke and to exercise regularly to improve circulation.
Women who have had a severe DVT may develop persistent pain, swelling, and ulceration around the ankle that doesn’t heal. This is due to a damaged vein that becomes blocked. Post-thrombotic disorder can be treated with venous stenting.
A tiny balloon is placed into the vein and inflated to widen it. A coil then holds it open permanently, restoring normal blood flow.
Blood clots can cause serious complications in pregnancy. All expectant moms should know the signs so they can receive prompt treatment to protect themselves and their babies.