Pregnancy Articles

Clot Risks Higher for Pregnant & Postpartum Women

Pregnancy & Post-Pregnancy News Flash

Blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis in the legs or a pulmonary embolism in the lungs, are rare, but frequently fatal. This is cause for concern, because Mayo Clinic researchers who recently reviewed 30 years of medical records found that pregnant women and new moms (within 3 months postpartum) are four times more likely to experience blood clots, compared to non-pregnant women. Risk factors for blood clots include: obesity, a history of clots, and prolonged bed rest during pregnancy.

BabyFit Tip: If you think you may be at risk for a blood clot, discuss your concern with your doctor. She may recommend the use of a leg compression device, designed to help get blood moving. Doctors and experts also recommend that new moms get out of bed and start walking as soon as possible to prevent a fatal clot from occurring. *Researchers caution that because nearly all the women in this study were white, these findings may not apply to women of other races.

While on bed rest or when recovering after delivery, discuss with your doctor just how much activity you are allowed to do. Get her clearance for each of the following in-bed activities, which promote circulation:
  • Ankle Pumps: Lying down with legs extended, move your foot and ankle up and down for 10-15 repetitions; repeat with opposite leg. Do one set every hour.
  • Ankle Alphabet: Trace the alphabet with your foot. Think of your big toe is as chalk writing on a chalkboard.
  • Side-lying Leg Lifts: Lying on one side, exhale and lift your top leg 10-12 inches; inhale and lower leg. Do 15 repetitions on each side.
  • Quad Stretch: Lying on one side, bend top knee and grasp ankle with your hand; pull foot toward your buttocks until a stretch is felt in the front of the thigh. Hold 15-20 seconds and repeat on opposite side.
  • Calf Stretch: While sitting upright with legs extended in front of you, place a towel around the ball of your foot, holding onto the towel with both hands. Keeping legs straight, pull your toes towards your nose until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of lower leg. Hold 15-20 seconds.
  • Hamstring Stretch: Sit up straight, with legs extended. Lean forward over your legs, keeping your torso tall, until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thighs. Hold 15-20 seconds.
  • Seated Leg Extensions: Sit at the edge of the bed, placing a rolled towel or pillow under your knees (legs should be hanging down off the bed or touching the floor). Exhale and straighten one or both legs until they are straight; inhale and lower. Repeat 15-20 times.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols
Nicole earned her bachelor's degree in health promotion and education, specializing in exercise and fitness, from the University of Cincinnati. She maintains several fitness certifications, including prenatal and postpartum exercise design.
Nicole Nichols

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