17 years ago, I had a pulmonary embolism. I was lucky. I survived. But my world forever changed.
I can’t take a road trip or get on a plane without worrying about a blood clot (thrombosis). There are certain medications that I simply cannot take anymore. Even a broken ankle a few months ago had me worried since my ankle was immobilized. It’s always in the back of my mind. And when I was pregnant with my twins, I learned how to give myself daily injections of a blood thinner since pregnancy increases the chance developing blood clots.
Today (October 13th) is World Thrombosis Day. Even though my pulmonary embolism wasn’t related to pregnancy, I want to focus on the risks of developing blood clots during pregnancy and what we can do prevent them.
The single biggest piece of nutritional advice I can give you is to make sure you are well-hydrated. And here’s why. When we get dehydrated, our blood volume goes down, and the blood is thicker. When we’re well-hydrated, our blood volume goes up, and the blood is thinner. It makes sense. Water helps to dilute the blood, and thinner blood is less likely to clot.
Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Milk, juice, and decaffeinated beverages can also “count” as water. However, if you have gestational diabetes, don’t forget that milk & juice will impact your blood sugar as well.
Fruits and vegetables also have a high % of water in them. There are tons of benefits to eating fruits & vegetables, particularly during pregnancy. Don’t count on them to fulfill your daily water needs though. Let the water you get from fruits & vegetables be extra, in addition to your eight 8-ounce glasses per day. An added benefit of eating fruits & veggies is that they help prevent constipation during pregnancy.
The other nutritional concern during pregnancy that impacts blood clotting is when you have extreme morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. This could lead to dehydration, and we already talked about dehydration being a risk factor for developing blood clots (thrombosis). If this is a concern for you, make sure to talk to your physician.
Why Does Pregnancy Increases the Chances of a Blood Clot?
There are a ton of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Higher estrogen levels during pregnancy can make blood clots more likely to form. (Note: this is the same reason why oral contraceptives containing estrogen have a warning that they may cause blood clots.)
There are also changes in blood clotting factors, most likely designed to prevent hemorrhage during delivery and postpartum.
In addition to hormonal and blood changes, as the baby grows, it can put increased pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis. This increased pressure, or compression, can also lead to blood clots.
What Can I Do to Prevent Blood Clots from Forming?
- Stay hydrated!!!
- Exercise (as long as you have your doctor’s approval)
- Stop smoking
- Move around during travel – If you’re taking a road trip, make sure to stop every 60-90 minutes to get up and stretch your legs. Drinking plenty of water can help you remember! 🙂 If you’re flying, make sure to request an aisle seat. That way, you don’t have to worry about bugging anyone to let you out to use the bathroom and stretch your legs. And if you do have a window or middle seat, don’t feel bad about asking the person on the aisle to let you out. After all, it’s serious stuff here. It’s your life we’re talking about!
Looking for healthy recipes that are great during pregnancy or anytime? What about nursery decor ideas? Follow me on Pinterest for some great pregnancy-related inspiration!