About Blood Clotting Disorders and Pregnancy
Pregnancy increases women’s risk of blood clotting disorders. For women with a family history of clotting disorders, the risk is even greater.
They are also considered to be at high risk for pregnancy complications because they and the women in her family may have had a history of preeclampsia, pregnancy loss, blood clots in a leg or lung, a low-birth-weight baby, or placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before delivery.
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 will cause other pregnancy 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, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis run in your family, try to get a detailed family medical history, and bring this information to your health care provider.
If you or someone in your family has had problems with blood clots, meet with your health care provider about getting a blood test to see if you have a thrombophilia. 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
- Pulmonary Embolism. An embolism is a blood clot that moves from where it formed to another place in the body.
- Factor V Leiden mutation
- Antithrombin deficiency. This inherited disorder greatly increases the chance of developing blood clots.
- 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 if there’s a family history of blood clots in the family.
Certain things make you more likely than others to have a blood clot. These are called risk factors. Having a risk factor doesn’t mean for sure that you’ll have a blood clot. But it may increase your chances. You may use birth control after pregnancy to help keep you from getting pregnant again. But some kinds of birth control, like the pill, may increase your risk of having blood clots and not be safe for you to use.
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.
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of, or suffering from any blood clotting disorders during pregnancy, or have questions about it, please discuss them with your doctor.
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