During pregnancy, the level of blood-clotting proteins inside the mother’s body increases while anti-clotting protein levels get lower. Also the enlarged uterus puts increased pressure on the veins that return the blood to the heart from the lower body. Both this significantly contribute in causing deep vein thrombosis.
The following kinds of people are more at risk:
- Past history of thrombosis (a clot) before
- Mothers over the age of 35
- Known case of thrombophilia – a condition that makes clots more likely
- Obesity – with a BMI of 30 or more
- Carrying twins or having multiple pregnancy
- Having a parent, brother, or sister who has had a thrombosis
- Having fertility treatment
- Having undergone a caesarean section
- Not moving (being immobile) for long periods of time, including long-distance travel of more than four hours, or after an operation
- Being a smoker increases the chances of thrombosis
- Having a severe case of varicose veins – if they are painful or above the knee with redness or swelling
- Are on strict bed rest for long durations
- Have preeclampsia or certain chronic illnesses like hypertension and inflammatory bowel disease
General symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are swelling, pain, warm skin, tenderness, redness near the affected region, particularly at the back of the leg below the knee, pain akin to one cause due to a muscle pull.
If the blood clots travel towards the lung, symptoms would worsen and would then include sudden difficulty in breathing, chest pain or tightness, and sudden loss of consciousness. If untreated, then pulmonary embolism can prove to be fatal.
Deep vein thrombosis is treated by administering anti-coagulants. This helps prevent the clot from getting bigger so that the body can internally dissolve it. This also reduces the chances of pulmonary embolism. The entire course of the medicine runs for about three months and in many cases even after delivery, the medicines need to be taken.
Apart from this, taking these precautionary measures may help reduce the risk of thrombosis:
- Exercising, yoga, and staying active
- Wearing a prescribed compression stocking to facilitate blood circulation in the leg
- Performing simple leg exercises, such as regularly flexing the ankles and rotating the leg by the knee joint.
Some simple ways in which pain associated with varicose veins can be reduced are as follows:
- Take frequent breaks and move around as much as possible if you have to stand or sit for a while.
- Do not cross legs when sitting.
- Elevate the feet often; keep cushions or any solid objects on which the feet can be kept.
- Get daily low-impact exercise after consulting a doctor or fitness expert.
- Sleep on your left side to keep the pressure off of the inferior vena cava, which is on the right side of your body.
- Wear maternity support hose.
They compress the leg muscles and squeeze the veins to help push the blood back toward the heart. They differ from regular pantyhose because they apply gradual amounts of pressure to the leg, with the most compression at the ankle and less farther up the leg
- Avoid tight socks or knee-highs that squeeze at a particular spot on the leg, as this can cut off blood circulation.
Consult the doctor if the pain is too severe to be borne or the skin becomes more red and swollen and feels numb with every passing day.
The good news is that varicose veins issues generally go away after delivery, with the uterus no longer there to push and exert pressure on the inferior vena cava.