Low platelet count during pregnancy is quite a common disorder. According to an estimate, it affects almost 8% pregnancies at any given time. Low platelet count or Thrombocytopenia is not harmful per se.
It may cause harm when a woman begins to bleed during pregnancy or at the time of birth because platelets in the blood are responsible for causing blood clots in a bleeding person.Basically, platelets are one of the many cells found in blood which are responsible for blood clotting as and when the need arises.
A platelet count between 1, 50,000 to 4, and 50,000 per micro liter of blood is considered normal. Below 1, 00,000 platelet per count is mild decrease and below 50,000 platelets per micro liter is termed as severe downfall. If there is severe thrombocytopenia then spontaneous bleeding may start.
If the platelet count drops during pregnancy then it is known as gestational thrombocytopenia. Gestational thrombocytopenia affects women generally during their third trimester but mostly does not cause any harm to the pregnant woman or to her baby. Most women experience a normal platelet count after a couple of months of delivery.
Causes of Gestational Thrombocytopenia
The exact cause of low platelet count during pregnancy is unknown but the doctors believe that two factors play an important role:
Your body destroys unused platelets naturally. For some unknown reasons, this process accelerates during pregnancy. This causes destruction of older platelets and generation of new platelets. As a result, you have fewer, younger and larger platelets in your blood stream during pregnancy.
A pregnant woman’s body produces more of plasma (the liquid part) and less of platelets during pregnancy. This results in lesser number of platelets in your blood.
Another reason behind abnormally low number of platelet count could be a pre existing condition like lupus. Lupus is a disorder in which your body’s cells mistakenly destroy your healthy cells. This can decrease platelet count considerably.
Some women experience a condition called ‘pre-eclampsia’ during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia causes hypertension, protein in urine, edema and sometimes low platelet count as well. Pre-eclampsia is a life threatening condition and should be addressed quickly. Though pre- eclampsia induced thrombocytopenia is quite rare but if your platelet count is very low and you suffer from pre -eclampsia then there could be a link between the two. If your low platelet count is due to pre-eclampsia then you may also experience pain above your belly, headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, etc.
Symptoms For Low Platelet Count In Pregnancy
Easy or Excessive Bruising
You may suddenly begin to notice that your skin tends to get bruised very fast. You accidentally rub your hands against the walls and there you get a bruise, you are wearing that favorite piece of bangle and again you sustain a new bruise. If rapid bruising becomes a pattern with you then get its cause confirmed with your doctor.
Prolonged Bleeding From Cuts
Since the clotting mechanism of your body is not functioning properly you will find that your wounds are bleeding more than usual. You may need to press a cotton wool on your wound but it may continue bleeding. Be careful if you know about your low platelet count status.
Spontaneous Bleeding From Gums and Nose
If your gums and nose are bleeding for no apparent reason during pregnancy then its high time to get it checked by your doctor.
A complete blood test helps in determining platelet count in the blood stream. If you are discovered with low platelet count then ideally your doctor should get it redone after some time to observe the status of platelet count.
Blood in Stools and Urine
You may notice blood in your urine or/and stools. You may think of it as some kind of infection but in fact it can be thrombocytopenia.
Spots on Lower Legs
You may experience superficial bleeding in your skin which will not feel like bleeding but will appear like a rash of pinpoint size. These rashes are known as petechiae.
Foods That Can Help You In Increasing Platelet Count
Many factors like platelets, Fibrinogen, calcium and vitamin K help in blood clotting. If you have low blood count then having foods rich in the above said nutrients can help you.
High Protein Foods
Protein rich foods can help you in increasing blood platelet count. Choose foods which are high in vitamin K as well as protein like eggs, liver, fish, etc.
Make it a point to eat eggs in your breakfast in different forms and eat at least one serving of fish a day. If you are a vegetarian, opt for soy, fortified cereals, etc.
Whole grains contain a bevy of nutrients and antioxidants. These antioxidants tend to increase blood platelet levels by reducing platelet aggregating effects. Eat more of whole wheat pastas, brown rice, soy products, etc.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables contain a good amount of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting and formation of platelets. Consume at least two servings in a day of these green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, fenugreek, etc.
Vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are also high in vitamin K. However, do not eat these vegetables raw as it can affect your intestinal lining. Eat them either stir fried or steamed so that they become soft and easy to digest.
Pay attention on eating organic foods. That way you avoid consumption of harmful chemicals which can induce low platelet count. Besides, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. These foods will strength your immunity system and will help you produce more platelets. Eat lots of tomatoes, berries, oranges, etc. Kale is one of the most effective platelet count raising food because it increases platelet levels and also helps the platelets not to stick to each other. This helps them in functioning effectively at the time of clotting.
Stay Away From Alcohol
Stay away from alcohol and other such additives since they can harm your bone marrow, the body part where platelets are actually built.