Pregnancy and the weeks after delivery are filled with more aches, pains, and aggravations than the number of baby kicks in the last half of pregnancy.

Fortunately, most issues are minor, and go away quickly.

But a new study from the American Stroke Association sheds new light on a rare, but not unheard of problem most common in the weeks after pregnancy: the complication of blood clots.

We know any pregnant woman has a risk–even a healthy woman with a healthy pregnancy. All of the hormone changes associated with pregnancy mess with blood clotting, and that can increase a woman’s risk of a postpartum blood clot- which can cause a heart attack, stroke, or a pulmonary embolism (clot in the lung.)

So here’s what is new. The risk remains low for most women, but the length of time for abnormal clotting is double what we thought.

For years we believed everything went back to normal within six weeks, but new research says the risk of a clot remains higher for 12 weeks— or three months after delivery.

And that’s no matter what type of delivery and how easy things may have gone,

So whats the message out of this study?

First, the risk is low—but not zero.

Which means, number two, that doctors need to tell women of the risk and how long that risk lasts.

Signs of a clot in the lungs, heart or brain can include:

Chest discomfort or pain

Shortness of breath

Pain while breathing

Bloody cough

Stroke symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or problems with speaking.

Heart attack symptoms such as chest, jaw, or arm dicomfort, or nausea, sweating, and extreme fatigue.

These are symptoms you should never ignore–and if you have had a baby within the past three months– they are symptoms that deserve extra attention.


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