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Diagnosis and treatment of venous thrombosis in pregnancy and after birth

Published: 06/08/2015

Thrombosis is a blood clot in a blood vessel (a vein or an artery). Venous thrombosis occurs in a vein. Veins are the blood vessels that take blood towards the heart and lungs whereas arteries take the blood away. A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein of the leg, calf or pelvis.

Pregnancy increases your risk of a DVT, with the highest risk being just after you have had your baby. However, venous thrombosis is still uncommon in pregnancy or in the first 6 weeks after birth, occurring in only 1–2 in 1000 women.

A DVT can occur at any time during your pregnancy, including the first 3 months.

This information leaflet covers:

  • Symptoms
  • Why a DVT is serious
  • Risk factors for DVT and a pulmonary embolism (PE) before, during and after pregnancy
  • How DVT and PE are diagnosed during pregnancy
  • Tests and any associated risks
  • Treatment for DVT
  • What you should do when labour starts
  • What happens after birth
  • Breastfeeding if you are receiving treatment after birth

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