FAQs on Blood Clots and Pregnancy

Blood clots are serious concerns and even more so while you are pregnant. A blood clot during pregnancy has additional risks or concerns because of your developing baby. The good news is blood clots during pregnancy are rare and there is little need for concern.

However, there are steps you can take to further minimize your rise of experiencing them while you are pregnant.

What is a blood clot?

A blood clot (also called a thrombosis) is a mass or clump of blood that forms when blood changes from a liquid to a solid. The body normally makes blood clots to stop the bleeding after a scrape or cut. But sometimes blood clots can partly or completely block the flow of blood in a blood vessel, like a vein or artery. This can cause damage to body organs and even death.

How common are blood clots during pregnancy?

According to a study presented to the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, blood clots affect only 1 or 2 pregnant women out of every 1,000, so while the risk may be low, the potential effects can be catastrophic.

What are the signs of a blood clot?

For many women, the most common sign of a blood clot is deep vein thrombosis. This happens when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the lower leg or thigh. DVT can be diagnosed with ultrasound or other imaging tests. Signs and symptoms may include warmth and tenderness over the vein and pain, swelling or skin redness in the affected area.

Are there any tests to determine if I have a blood clot?

Your provider may use tests like ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (also called MRI) to find out if you have a blot clot or clotting conditions. Ultrasound uses sound waves and a computer screen to show a picture of your baby inside the womb. MRI uses magnets and computers to make a clear picture of the inside of the body. These tests are painless and safe for you and your baby.

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?

A blood clot in the mother can form or travel to the lungs or heart, which can potentially result in pulmonary embolism or heart attack, both of which can be fatal to mom and baby. Blood clots can also be dangerous to your baby — if they form inside the placenta, they may cut off blood flow to the fetus.

What’s the best way to treat a blood clot?

If you’re pregnant and have a clotting condition, you may need to go for prenatal care checkups more often than women who don’t have these blood clot conditions. At these visits, your provider checks your blood pressure and can use other tests, like blood tests, to monitor your health.

What can I do to prevent a blood clot from forming?

During pregnancy your provider may give you a blood thinner. Your provider also may refer you to a hematologist. This is a doctor who treats blood conditions.

* Information from March of Dimes

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