What causes blood clots during pregnancy?

by Missy Jaramillo

What causes blood clots during pregnancy?

There are many things you have to worry about during your pregnancy, because keeping your unborn baby healthy can be a full-time job. You need to make sure to avoid secondhand smoke, eat the right foods and follow any other advice your doctor may have. Of course, there are other things you need to worry about that may be out of your control, such as unforeseen health problems that may develop.

Recently, researchers from the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, in England, set out to find what factors may increase a woman's risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy. Hopefully, this new information will help you do everything you can to keep this potentially dangerous health issue from occurring. 

Know your risks
HealthDay News reported on the study which showed that there are some controllable factors that increase your risk of blood clots. For example, women who smoked or were overweight or obese were found to have an increased chance of developing blood clots. To come to their conclusion, researchers examined data from more than 400,000 pregnancies. 

According to the American Society of Hematology, blood clots naturally develop more easily during pregnancy.They are potentially life-threatening for both you and your baby. If a clot from elsewhere in the body breaks off and travels to the lungs, it could cause serious health problems for you. Clots can also form in the placenta, cutting off blood flow and harming your baby. 

"We believe the strong association between stillbirths and premature births and [blood clots] in particular is a finding of real importance that has received only limited attention to date," said study leader Matthew Grainge, Ph.D., of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, quoted by HealthDay. "[Stillbirths and premature births] are not currently incorporated in the guidelines for risk assessment for [blood clots] and, if they were, then many cases associated with those risk factors could potentially be prevented."

Along with obesity and smoking, the scientists found that having pre-existing diabetes, varicose veins and inflammatory bowel disease also increased the risk of blood clots. Furthermore, among women who had already had children, those who had a cesarean delivery had experienced a premature birth, bleeding in pregnancy or had given birth three or more times had a high risk of experiencing a blood clot. 

Also, women who had stillbirth in the past were six times more likely to develop a blood clot than those who had not.

What should you do? 
The American Society of Hematology has some tips for preventing blood clots. First, you should learn about your family's history of blood clots so your doctor can determine your risk. Also, you should be aware of the symptoms of a blood clot, such as chest pain that radiates down the left arm and is accompanied by shortness of breath. Sudden pain or swelling in the arms and legs may also be as sign that you have a blood clot, as can visual impairment. 

Also, if you're thinking about getting pregnant, then you should quit smoking cigarettes and try to lose weight if you are overweight or obese. This may help reduce your chances of developing clots. 

Have you experienced a blood clot during pregnancy? What ended up happening? Has your doctor given you any tips for how to avoid developing a blood clot? Share your advice and experiences here!