4 Best Ways to Prevent Blood Clots During Pregnancy

4 Best Ways to Prevent Blood Clots During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can come with lots of health effects. It not only brings morning sickness and fatigue, it can also increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Deep vein thrombosis is a disorder in which blood clots occur in the veins. Pregnant women have five times higher risk of deep vein thrombosis than women who aren't pregnant. The increased risk remains up to three months after the baby is delivered.

The problem is that an untreated blood clot can break free and travel through the bloodstream. The scariest thing is that it could move to the heart or lungs and lead to pulmonary embolism, which can result in death. 

So, why does deep vein thrombosis occur in pregnant women? There are a lot of physical changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy. One of them is the compression in the pelvis from the baby. There are also changes in clotting factors in the blood that start early in pregnancy and last until a woman is six weeks postpartum.

Hormone fluctuations play a role as well. There’s a sharp increase in estrogen that lasts the whole pregnancy. In fact, estrogen raises the risk of blood clots. Women who take birth control pills containing estrogen are at a similar increased risk of deep vein thrombosis. Women with genetic clotting disorders, known as thrombophilias, are at an even higher risk for DVT in pregnancy.

Risk Factors for DVT in Pregnancy
There are some things that can further increase your risk of getting deep vein thrombosis during pregnancy. These include:
- Being 35 or older
- Blood clot during previous pregnancy or clot after pregnancy
- A genetic predisposition to blood clots
- Multiple births
- Having extra weight
- Smoking
- Undergoing fertility treatments that involve the use of hormones
- Certain pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia 
- Diabetes
- Having a cesarean delivery 

Race can also play a role. Scientists have found that the overall incidence of DVT and pulmonary embolism is 30 to 60 percent higher in Black people than in white people. This accounts for both men and women.

Ways to Prevent DVT During Pregnancy 
Given that pregnancy and postpartum period in themselves are risk factors for DVT, it’s impossible to eliminate the risk absolutely. However, there are some things you can do to lower your risk of blood clots.

1. Wear compression stockings 
Since wearing compression stockings can boost your blood circulation and alleviate swelling in the legs, doing that can help reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis while you’re pregnant. 

2. Stay physically active 
If you have excess weight or follow a sedentary lifestyle, you run the risk of having reduced blood circulation and getting deep vein thrombosis during or after pregnancy. So, it’s crucial to stay physically active and maintain a healthy weight. If you have to be on bed rest due to an injury or complication during your pregnancy, talk to a vein specialist or healthcare provider who might prescribe blood thinners as a precautionary measure.

3. Drink plenty of fluids 
Drinking plenty of water during pregnancy helps prevent clots by keeping the blood from thickening excessively. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women should drink 10 glasses of liquid every day and 12 to 13 glasses every day while breastfeeding.

4. Get up while traveling 
It’s important to note that flying in itself is a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis. That’s why pregnant women who fly are definitely at an increased risk. If you have to fly, get up and move around every hour or two and do ankle roll exercises while sitting. You also need to do the same thing if you go on a long car or bus ride.

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