How Common are Blood Clots During Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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The development of blood clots during pregnancy is neither routine nor rare. Pregnant women develop them occasionally and are at an increased risk for developing blood clots when compared to non-pregnant women. Women are at increased risk for developing blood clots during pregnancy because of the changes in blood flow that naturally occur when a woman is pregnant. A woman may also pass blood clots from the vagina during a pregnancy. This often indicates trouble with the pregnancy and may precede a miscarriage.

Occasionally, a woman will develop a leg blood clot during pregnancy, which is referred to as thrombophilia. Thrombophilia is simply a medical term for a blood clot that develops where it does not belong. Often, these clots form in the veins of a pregnant woman’s lower leg and cause such symptoms as swelling and tenderness in the affected area as well as reddening of the skin. When a woman has a blood clot that develops in her lower leg, it is referred to as deep vein thrombosis. These blood clots can be treated but represent a serious health risk because they sometimes travel to the vital organs.


One example of a serious health risk caused by blood clots during pregnancy is a pulmonary embolism. When a woman develops an abnormal blood clot during pregnancy, there is a risk that it will break free from its initial location and travel to her lungs. When a blood clot blocks blood flow in the lungs, a woman is said to have a pulmonary embolism. This blockage can cause a pregnant woman to experience breathing difficulties and may even result in her death. Sometimes blood clots travel to a patient's heart or brain, which is also life threatening.

Sometimes, a woman has blood clots during pregnancy that pass from her vagina. This often occurs as a sign that something is wrong with the pregnancy. For example, a woman may pass these clots in relation to a miscarriage. In some cases, however, the passage of blood and clots from the vagina occurs for other reasons, such as trauma or infection.

Thrombophilia occurs in less than one out of 100 pregnancies. This means most pregnant women do not experience them. If a woman suspects that she has a blood clot or experiences symptoms of one, she should contact a doctor at once. Swift treatment for blood clots during pregnancy may lower the risk of life-threatening effects.


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