Blood Clots After Delivery – Symptoms and Treatment

Blood Clots After Delivery - Symptoms and Treatment

Blood clots after delivery are normal, particularly after a caesarean delivery. Post delivery, if the blood doesn’t pass through the vagina, it may form clots. Sometimes, these clots may become large, which becomes a cause of concern. Women are at risk of thromboembolic disorders (the risk of developing blood clots) for 6-8 weeks after childbirth. If left untreated, it can prove fatal, which is why you should understand about it. Find out what are its symptoms, treatment, and causes. Read on to know more.



Is Blood Clotting After Birth Normal?

Post delivery the uterus contracts and sheds its lining. During this process, women experience bleeding and may pass out some blood clots. However, you must keep a check on the size and the number of times you pass a blood clot. Frequent and large size blood clots could spell danger and need immediate medical intervention.



What Causes Postpartum Blood Clotting?

After delivery, women usually experience heavy bleeding known as Lochia. It is the process through which the body expels the excess mucus, placental tissue, and blood. At that time, to stop the blood from clotting, the body naturally produces anti-coagulants. However, when the bleeding is heavy, our body is incapable of timely production of anti-coagulants resulting in blood clots.

Symptoms of Blood Clots After Childbirth

Although blood clots after delivery are normal at times for a few women, it could become a health hazard too. Listed below are some of the symptoms of blood clots after delivery.




1. Fever

Having a temperature of 100.4° Fahrenheit or more accompanied by chills after childbirth can be a sign of a blood clot in your body.

2. Change in Skin Colour

Since the blood clot stops the blood flow in the veins, the person becomes pale and later blue as the oxygen supply stops.





3. Pain

The area where the blood has clotted may feel tender and sore. It will be painful at the slightest touch. In case the clot has moved up to the lungs, the person may even experience heaviness and dull pain in the chest.

A woman with pain in her legs

4. Swelling

The area of the blood clot will be swollen and red due to the pressure created by the blood clot on the vein. This pressure builds up and affects the surrounding tissues. You may also feel numbness and warmth in the swollen area.




5. Coughing

A blood clot which has moved up to the lungs can cause severe coughing resulting in pinkish sputum.

6. Breathing Problems

If you have blood clots, you may also experience shortness of breath. Your heartbeat will become rapid, and you may lose consciousness.





Normal Signs of Blood Clots

Days/Weeks Blood colour Amount of Blood Discharged/Blood Clots
Day 1 Brownish red or pure red A very heavy flow of blood and occasionally passing of large blood clots about the size of tomato or grape.
Days 2 – 6 Light red, almost pink or very dark brown. The blood flow decreases and the blood clots passed are small in size.
Days 7 – 10 There is no significant change in colour; however, it may turn lighter. The blood flow is very less.
Days 11 – 14 The colour of the blood may become very light. However, in case of too much activity, the colour may be bit brighter than usual. There is hardly any blood flow.
3rd and 4th week If the blood loss continues now, it will be light in colour – creamy white. The blood flow will stop. However, your menstrual cycle may start again after this period.
Around 6th week The colour of the blood may be either brown, light red, or creamy yellow. The blood flow is occasional and light during this time only staining the napkin.

Table source: http://www.uhs.nhs.uk/Media/Controlleddocuments/Patientinformation/Pregnancyandbirth/Blood-loss-what-to-expect-after-the-birth-of-your-baby-patient-information.pdf

Abnormal Blood Clotting Signs

Following are the signs of blood clots that are considered abnormal.




  • Extreme and very heavy blood flow after delivery.
  • Feeling light-headed, dizzy, and nauseous.
  • Passing out large blood clots of the size of a golf ball.
  • Unable to work normally due to a severe headache.
  • Pain while moving, standing, or sitting.

How is the Diagnosis Done?

Listed below are the tests conducted to diagnose Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary embolism.

  • If the doctor suspects blood clotting, he will suggest ultrasonography to rule out deep vein thrombosis.
  • The doctor will also ask for a blood test to check the count of D-dimer, a substance which is released by the blood clots.
  • A CT scan (Computed Tomography scan) of the chest done to rule out pulmonary embolism.

Blood clots

How to Treat Blood Clots Post Delivery

Immediate treatment of blood clots after delivery is vital since blood clots stop the flow of the blood in the body which could prove to be fatal. Listed below are ways in which blood clots can be treated.





  • To treat blood clots which are visible, you can treat it with warm compresses, compression bandages and elevating the limb (in case of the blood clot in the limb).
  • Your doctor may put pressure on the uterus with his hands to contract.
  • A small balloon insertion inside the uterus is done to stop the blood flow.
  • Blood clots may be treated by contracting the uterus walls through medication.
  • A procedure in which the blood flow to the arteries of the uterus is stopped.
  • Hysterectomy can be conducted to remove the uterus in case the blood clotting gets severe.

When to Call a Doctor for Blood Clots

You should talk to your doctor if you experience any of the below-mentioned symptoms or signs.

  • If the postpartum blood clots are large enough the size of golf balls.
  • If the blood clots appear frequently.
  • If the blood flow after delivery is heavier than usual and does not decrease even after a week after delivery.
  • If the discharge from the vagina has a foul smell, which is a sign of an infection in the uterus or perineum.
  • If you experience pain in the pelvic region, it can be a result of uterine infection, urine infection, or even constipation. In this case, you should see a doctor immediately.

Is the Risk of Blood Clots Higher in C-Section Delivery?

After a Caesarean delivery, the risk of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is greater. Women who have had a C-Section delivery are four times more susceptible to blood clots in veins.




Can You Prevent Blood Clots After Having a Baby?

It is best to take preventive measures so that you do not have blood clots after the delivery. Listed below are some ways which one may practice to avoid it.

  • Do not lie down all the time after giving birth to your child. It is best to walk from time to time to avoid pooling of blood in your legs.
  • You can ask your doctor to prescribe blood thinners if you are at risk, have earlier suffered blood clotting or have a family history of blood clotting.
  • Check for any family history of blood clotting. Tell your doctor about it.
  • If someone has to undergo a c-section, doctors place compression devices in the legs. These devices press upon the calf muscles and reduce the risk of blood clotting.
  • Try out some non-strenuous leg exercises to improve the blood flow and avoid blood clotting once you get back home.
  • Although resting for too long is not advisable after delivery, too much of walking around, movement or activity is not permissible. It can start heavy blood flow and blood clotting.
  • You can wear leg-hugging slacks. This will squeeze the legs, improve the blood flow, and eliminate the risk of blood clotting.
  • While you are lying down or even sitting, elevate your legs so that the blood flow remains normal.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids to clear your bowel. A poor bowel movement can make you constipated.
  • Avoid using tampons for at least 6 – 8 weeks after delivery.
  • Be alert after your delivery. In case you suffer from any blood clotting symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

Tips to Reduce Excessive Blood Flow After Delivery

Having blood clots in your legs post-delivery can be fatal. This is caused due to heavy postpartum bleeding. However, little blood clotting after delivery is normal. But what should be the normal postpartum blood clot size? It is said that blood clots bigger than a quarter after birth are normal. Small blood clots normally pass out once or twice in a day. But if you have heavy blood clots or blood flow, here are a few tips which can help in reducing excessive blood flow after delivery.




  • Do not overexert yourself. It may aggravate bleeding after delivery.
  • Contraction of the uterus helps in reducing blood flow after delivery. Therefore, keep your bladder empty by urinating as you feel the pressure.
  • Try cold compression.
  • Drinking a cup of milk or warm water after adding 1-2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses will reduce heavy bleeding. Since blackstrap molasses are rich in iron, they will help in producing more red blood cells. It also reduces blood clotting.

Look out for the symptoms of blood clotting mentioned in the article and if any, consult a doctor immediately. Being alert after delivery could reduce your risk of excessive bleeding and blood clotting.

Also Read: Infections After Delivery of Baby