A few days after delivering my second child in February 2021, I found myself back in the hospital with stomach pain and a fever. A CT scan revealed a massive blood clot in my inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the abdomen that collects unoxygenated blood from the lower body and brings it to the heart, which pumps it to the lungs.
Clots were also found in my renal veins (kidneys) and gonadal veins (reproductive organs). A later CT scan also revealed a piece of a blood clot had broken off and traveled to my lungs (pulmonary embolism). If I had not developed a fever, I never would have gone to the emergency room because my symptoms were otherwise inconsistent with what is typically seen with blood clots.
Childbirth was my only risk factor. I was on blood thinners for a year after my diagnosis. I am off of them now but live with the knowledge that I will forever be at high risk for blood clots following my first episode.
I found NBCA a few weeks after my diagnosis. The resources I found there helped me calm my anxiety over my situation and also made me realize that blood clots are a huge problem in the postpartum community, yet they are rarely talked about, especially by OB/GYNS.
My advice is to advocate for yourself. If something feels off, it never hurts to get it checked out. It could save your life.
Blood Clots in Pregnancy and Childbirth
Psychological Impact of Blood Clots
Know Your Risk