Pregnancy: Blood Clots

Overview

A blood clot is a clump of blood that forms in a blood vessel. Sometimes clots happen in deep veins. These need medical care right away. There's a higher risk for clots during pregnancy and after delivery. That's because of changes in hormones and blood flow. Having limited mobility also increases the risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a vein) include pain, swelling, redness, or warmth in the leg or arm. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung) include shortness of breath and sharp chest pain that's worse when you cough or take a deep breath.

Treatment

Blood clots in deep veins are most often treated with a blood thinner (anticoagulant). It can stop the blood clot from growing larger. It can also prevent new clots from forming. Your doctor may also suggest things you can do on your own to relieve some of your symptoms.

Self-care

Your doctor may have you wear compression stockings. And you may be told to walk several times a day (if you can). If you have limited mobility, try to move your legs or change position as best you can every hour to keep blood moving. If you're given medicine, take it exactly as prescribed.

When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your lung (called a pulmonary embolism). These may include:
    • Sudden chest pain.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Coughing up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your arm or leg (called a deep vein thrombosis). These may include:
    • Pain in the arm, calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in the arm, leg, or groin.

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