Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is when a blood clot develops in a deep vein, usually in the leg or pelvis. Sometimes the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, which leads to a serious condition called pulmonary embolism (PE).
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are collectively referred to as venous thromboembolism (VTE). However, each condition can appear to occur on its own. Around 30% of episodes of PE are associated with silent DVT and for patients with symptoms of DVT, the incidence of silent PE is around 40-50%.
During pregnancy and the postpartum period, women are 5 times more likely to deep vein thrombosis. The risk per day is the highest in the postpartum period, and even higher when certain risk factors are present.
Risk factors include:
If you think you might be experiencing DVT, or at higher risk of developing it, talk to your doctor right away.
Treatment is typically a blood thinner called heparin, which is typically compatible with breastfeeding.
If you’re at higher risk of developing DVT, compression socks can be effective in preventing blood clots from forming. Also, heparin can be given after delivery for high risk patients.