Don’t overlook blood clots while pregnant, say medical experts
A blood clot is a small clump of blood with a gel-like appearance and consistency. While they are good to have if you’re cut or injured in order to prevent excessive bleeding, it can be harmful to have a blood clot inside your body as it can travel to your lungs, heart or other organs. This can then result in a stroke, heart attack or other health issues, including death.
When you’re pregnant, a blood clot has even more harmful effects since not only are you at risk, but your baby’s health could be endangered as well if a clot develops. While blood clots during pregnancy are statistically quite rare, it’s one that you want to be aware of and talk to your doctor about—especially if you’re on bed rest or aren’t able to move around as much as you would like in order to keep your blood flowing properly.
Causes of blood clots during pregnancy
There are a few different reasons why blood clots can form during pregnancy. The most common causes are being overweight, traveling long distances, and smoking or being around someone who smokes. If you’re pregnant with more than one baby, that can increase your risk of a blood clot as well. If you have a C-section, then your risk of developing a blood clot after the surgery increases, especially if you’re not able to get up and walk around as much when you go home.
Another reason why you need to be more concerned about blood clots during pregnancy is that your body tends to try to clot more as a way to prevent losing too much blood during labor and delivery. Clots sometimes form in a pregnant individual’s legs or pelvis, but if they are caught soon enough then they can be effectively treated before you deliver and even after giving birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:
“Although anyone can develop a blood clot, women are at higher risk for a blood clot during pregnancy, childbirth, and up to 3-months after delivering a baby. In fact, pregnant women are 5 times more likely to experience a blood clot compared with women who are not pregnant.”
Symptoms of a blood clot
If you notice any symptoms of a blood clot while you’re pregnant, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your doctor is unable to get you into the office, then you should go to an emergency room so that proper tests can be performed to determine if you do have a clot as this can increase the likelihood that it can be treated.
Swelling is one of the most common symptoms of a blood clot. You could also experience pain or tenderness in the area where the blood clot forms. You might experience more pain when you move around, especially when bending or straightening your legs. Sometimes, your skin might feel warm. The area where the blood clot forms could also turn red.
Keep in mind that muscle cramps can mimic the feeling of a blood clot, which is why you want to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms. A pulmonary embolism is a severe blood clot that develops in the lungs. This can lead to severe chest pains or shortness of breath that occurs suddenly. You could also experience a rapid heartbeat with a pulmonary embolism.
Birth injury resulting from a blood clot
A blood clot can pose a serious health risk when you’re pregnant because it could result in delivering your baby earlier than expected. Clots can form in the placenta and restrict the food and oxygen supply to your baby, which can then lead to lower birth weight.
If blood flow is restricted to your baby for a long period of time, then it could result in the loss of your baby. You could have a heart attack due to a blood clot if it blocks blood flow to your heart.
The doctor’s role in diagnosing blood clots
If your doctor sees that you have a blood clot, there are some medications that can be given. Heparin is the most common one used. It’s typically injected before clot forms as a way to prevent them from occurring and can be given if a clot is seen on a scan. Your doctor could also give this medication after delivering your baby if there is a risk of developing a blood clot, especially if you have a C-section or if you had a difficult labor.
If nothing is done after your doctor notices that you have a blood clot or suspects that you have a clot, then it could be considered neglect. During the delivery, your doctor should pay attention to your heart rate and that of your baby. You should also be monitored for any changes in your blood pressure or any signs of abnormal bleeding. If these symptoms are noticed, then your doctor should proceed with a C-section in order to deliver the baby as quickly as possible if you’re not close to pushing.
Consult experienced birth injury attorney Laura Brown if you feel that your doctor failed to diagnose and treat symptoms of a blood clot. Compensation could be awarded for pain and suffering, as well as the medical bills that you endured as a result of medical negligence.
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