C-Section Births Significantly Raise Blood Clot Risk

Pregnancy increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) due to blockage of blood flow, and having a C-section can significantly increase that risk.

The risk of thromboembolism, a potentially deadly condition in which organs sustain damage due to the blockage of blood flow by blood clots, has been found to greatly increase during pregnancy. And according to experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, having a Caesarean section (C-section) birth almost doubles that blood clot risk.

The significant increase in risk for blood clots has prompted the leading obstetricians group to issue a new recommendation that all women undergoing a C-section should wear inflatable compression devices on their legs during delivery to prevent the formation of blood clots.

In addition, for cases in which the risk is greatest, the group advised that these women also receive anticoagulant (anti-clotting) medications. The new guidelines will be published in an upcoming issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Dr. Andra H. James, who was involved in the development of the new guidelines, stated in a college news release, “VTE [venous thromboembolism] is a major contributor to maternal mortality in this country. The risk of VTE is increased during pregnancy and the consequences can be severe.” She then added, “It’s important for ob-gyns to adopt these recommendations to help reduce maternal deaths.”

Several physiological changes that pregnant women experience put them at greater risk for developing VTE, such as a slowing of blood flow, having blood that tends to clot more easily, decreased mobility, and compression of pelvic and other veins. Other factors that increase the risk for VTE include obesity, a history of VTE or extreme clotting, high blood pressure, and smoking.

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