Pregnancy increases women’s risk of blood clotting disorders. For women with a family history of clotting disorders, the risk is even greater.
Blood clots block arteries and blood vessels, diminishing or altogether preventing blood flow to essential organs. In pregnant women, this can include the placenta. When blood flow is interrupted in the placenta, the baby is starved of the nutrients and oxygen it needs for healthy development.
Risks of Clotting Disorders
Thrombophilia is a condition in which blood has an increased tendency to clot. The disease threatens the mother’s health, but it also puts the pregnancy at risk for complications, including:
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR).
- Severe preeclampsia.
- Miscarriage after 10 weeks.
- Placental abruption (the placenta separates from the uterine lining too soon).
It’s important to remember that these are worst case scenarios. Thrombophilia is very treatable, and with proper attention, women with blood clotting disorders during pregnancy can carry a healthy pregnancy to term. If clotting disorders run in your family, try to get a detailed family history, and bring this information to your doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about ways you can manage your condition and reduce your risk.
Types of Clotting Disorders
Thrombophilia is hereditary, and there are several variations. The most common types are:
- Prothrombin G20210A mutation
- Factor V Leiden mutation
- Antithrombin III (abbreviated as “AT III”) deficiency
- Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677 (“MTHFR”) mutation
- Protein S deficiency
- Protein C deficiency
Many patients don’t realize they’ve inherited a blood clotting disorder until a few weeks into their pregnancy, when they start to develop symptoms. It’s even possible that no one in your family knows or has outward signs of thrombophilia. This is why it’s important to have regular physical check-ups with your doctor, and to attend all of your prenatal appointments so that your health can be carefully monitored.
Treatment of Blood Clotting Disorders during Pregnancy
Because of the dangers blood clots pose to a mother-to-be and her baby, it’s not uncommon for a doctor to prescribe blood thinners, throughout the pregnancy and up to 8 weeks after delivery. Anti-coagulants, like unfractionated heparin and low-molecular-weight heparin, are safe for the developing baby, and are commonly prescribed for pregnant women.
There are many treatment plans and drugs available. You may be referred to a maternal-fetal specialist or a hematologist, who will work with you to determine the best regimen for you.