Pregnancy Problems

Deep Vein Thrombosis (Dvt)

Answers to whether or not you could be at risk for DVT — and if you get it, how to deal.

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during pregnancy?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a clot forms in a vein — you're more prone to it during pregnancy.

What are the signs of DVT during pregnancy?

You’ll probably have swelling and pain, especially in one leg, where the clots are most common.

Are there any tests for DVT during pregnancy?

An ultrasound (of the leg, not your belly!) can usually confirm or rule out DVT.

How common is DVT during pregnancy?

About one or two pregnant women in 1,000 will develop DVT during (or just after) pregnancy.

How did I get DVT during pregnancy?

Pregnant women are especially susceptible to clots because pregnancy is a “hypercoagulable state”— which just means that blood is more prone to clotting during pregnancy!

How will my DVT affect my baby?

A DVT is dangerous because the clot could break apart and travel to your lungs, where it could potentially kill you (yikes!). But if caught in time — and properly treated — a DVT won’t hurt you (or your baby!) at all.

What’s the best way to treat DVT during pregnancy?

An injectable medicine called heparin helps thin the blood slightly to prevent further clotting (and to give your body time to absorb the existing clot). You might also be asked to wear special compression stockings to encourage circulation throughout your body (see next page for prevention, resources and more tips).

What can I do to prevent DVT?

Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of clots, whether you’re pregnant or not. It’s also important to keep moving. Long hours of sitting or standing can increase your risk of clots (because the blood tends to pool in your legs), so get up and move around every hour, if possible.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have DVT?

“I’m sure everyone I know is sick to death of hearing about my DVT, but I try to educate people because it’s easy to just pass off the pain as a muscle ache (I did for over six weeks). I feel lucky to have not had a PE and don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. Hopefully the news will have more stories like this one on how to help get the word out.”

“I had a clot in my leg in 2006 and also had to do about a week of Lovenox and a year of Coumadin. The doctor was constantly adjusting my medication. I never experienced side effects from being on the blood thinners. I’d cut myself shaving or something else, and I didn’t actually notice too much of a difference in bleeding.”

“I had DVT in January from my birth control. A piece broke off and went into my lung. I was in the hospital on IV Heparin for 2 weeks and I’m on Coumadin now. Make sure you’re diligent about going to the doctor and getting your INR levels checked, so your dosage is accurate.”

Are there any other resources for DVT?

Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

Vascular Disease Foundation

Plus, more from The Bump:

Safe to fly during pregnancy?

Blood Clots During Pregnancy

What medications are safe during pregnancy?

By Deborah Ottenheimer, MD, ob-gyn at Ottenheimer Healthcare in New York