Some women are at risk for developing blood clots in the legs or lungs (thrombosis) after they deliver a baby (postpartum). A blood clot can form in the lungs, which can be serious. The risk of blood clots is highest in the first 6 weeks after delivery. This is the body’s natural response to protect women against serious bleeding during childbirth or a miscarriage. While we know what the risk factors are for getting a blood clot after delivery, we still don’t know what the best way is to prevent blood clots.
What’s Your Risk?
Some risk factors for blood clots include specific clotting conditions or a family history of blood clots, recent surgery, trauma, cancer, or prolonged immobility.
Risk factors in pregnancy include smoking, obesity, being on bedrest, pre-eclampsia, other chronic health conditions or developing a postpartum hemorrhage or infection. Talk to your doctor today about your risk of blood clots.
Do you know the symptoms of blood clots?
A blood clot in the leg is known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your legs. The signs and symptoms of a DVT include:
- Swelling, usually in one leg
- Leg or groin pain or tenderness
- Skin warm or redness
In pregnancy you may have some mild leg swelling, especially after being on your feet or at the end of the day. If one leg is persistently more swollen or is associated with pain or redness then this may be a sign of a more serious blood clot.
A blood clot in the lungs is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE): A blood clot can break off from a DVT and travel to the lungs, causing a PE, which can be serious. The signs and symptoms of a PE include:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain: Can be sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling lightheaded or faint
DVT and PE are an emergency. If you are having any symptoms, then please seek urgent medical attention by going to your nearest emergency department.