When I was pregnant with Willow, I had all of these visions about how the pregnancy was going to go and the anticipation toward the end as I waited for my water to break and rushing to the hospital to deliver my baby. It was picture perfect in my mind.
In the beginning of my pregnancy, I saw my family doctor for my prenatal care. Since I lived in the city and my hometown, where the doctor was, was forty-five minutes away, I asked for her to get me a transfer to an OBGYN in the city. She referred me and I had my first appointment with my new doc a few weeks later.
During our first appointment, my OBGYN took down my medical history, which included a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when I was nineteen or twenty (I forget when exactly) that was due to the birth control pill. At that time, my leg became very swollen and cold to touch. I remember being at work thinking that my leg felt weird… a bit dead almost. I called TeleHealth who told me to get to emergency — immediately.
When I saw the doctor in emergency, he gave me blood thinner and I returned the next morning to get a full leg ultrasound to see if there were any blood clots present. The blood thinners thankfully dissolved any clots but the doctor gave me a warning then – no more birth control.
Anyway, fast forward to my OBGYN appointment and the DVT popping up in my history. The doctor instantly became a bit more concerned and she asked me numerous questions about the incident and what happened afterward. It turns out, I should have been tested for a blood clotting disorder but never was. They just took me off birth control and that was that.
My OBGYN was concerned because being pregnant is exactly like being on birth control (hormone-wise) and the elevated levels of estrogen could cause my body to clot. A clot during pregnancy could mean death for me or my baby. Since they can’t do mid-pregnancy blood disorder testing, they decided to put me on Fragmin anyway to be safe. This meant one injection per day up to 24 weeks and two injections per day afterward and for two weeks post-pregnancy.
I remember thinking, “Okay, this won’t be so bad…” until she told me that I was going to have to be induced. Tears came to my eyes as I listened to her explain the process. I was going to have to stop my Fragmin at 38 weeks and go in to the hospital to deliver Willow within a 24 hour time period. Too long after stopping Fragmin could leave time for a clot to develop but too close to me being on Fragmin could mean increased risk of haemorrhaging. I complied, knowing that it was the safest for my baby and I, but it still broke my heart and the visions of me experiencing my water breaking on its own and having that moment of “go time” with my husband.
I showed up at the hospital later that day, after picking up my prescription, to learn how to inject the needles into my thighs. What I wasn’t expecting was how badly the needle would burn. It wasn’t the pinch of the needle that bugged me but rather the blood thinner in my leg. It burned — badly. I cried that first day, almost hysterically, as not only were my labor plans diverted, I now had to deal with pain twice per day.
The first time I tried to do the needle myself at home, I bawled. I couldn’t bring myself to stick the needle in my leg knowing the burning pain that followed. I had my husband do it and he continued to do my needles twice per day every day until I delivered Willow. I remember driving over to his work (he worked the night shift for awhile) and he’d come out into the parking lot to stick me with the blood thinner. I can only imagine what some people thought we were doing.
Even though my birth was scheduled and induced (only by breaking my water – no Pitocin or anything like that), I was in labor for only 6 1/2 hours and delivered Willow vaginally. Something I was afraid I may not be able to do. The other good news is that I’ve since been tested for a blood disorder and it turns out that I would only need to use blood thinners post-pregnancy if we were to ever have more children. Never during pregnancy.
Here’s a video of myself being injected with Fragmin during my pregnancy. Only watch if you aren’t squeamish!
Lastly, I received a few questions on this topic, which is what prompted the blog post, so I’ll answer those here:
How long did you have to take injection shots during your pregnancy?
I took them throughout my entire pregnancy – once a day up to 24 weeks and twice a day right up to the day I gave birth.
How was giving birth being you had these injection shots?
My birth was exactly the same as a regular, vaginal delivery. The only difference is that when I asked for the epidural, they had to check to make sure that they had enough blood on hand for me in case something went wrong (ie: bleeding from the injection site). Everything else was the same as a regular delivery.
What was it like after you gave birth?
Everything was great! I was so happy to not have to take any injections after that.
Have a question about blood thinners during pregnancy? Leave it in the comments below!