Platelets are disk – shaped cells that are found in our blood and are responsible for clotting of blood. They are also referred to as Thrombocytes. The normal range of platelets in our blood is 150 – 400 million per ml of blood. If, however the number of platelets becomes less, it can lead to loss of excessive blood. This condition is called Thrombocytopenia.
If your platelet count is just a little below the normal range, then there is nothing to worry about, but if it is in the range of 100 – 150 million platelets per milliliter of blood, then it is below normal and you require immediate medical attention.
During pregnancy, your medical practitioner will conduct blood tests at regular intervals to check your hemoglobin and platelet levels. Most women have a normal platelet count but some women do face a problem. If your platelet count falls below the normal range during your pregnancy, it is known as Gestational Thrombocytopenia. It happens very rarely, but if this happens, it is most likely to occur in the third trimester. In most cases, there is no cause to worry, since these levels will get back to normal after the delivery and your baby would not be affected. The reasons behind this fall in platelet count during pregnancy are:
- Unused platelets are destroyed and replaced by new ones and this process speeds up during your pregnancy. This leaves you with a less platelet count in your blood.
- During pregnancy, the plasma of the blood is produced in a large quantity and this makes the platelets diluted, so the number of platelets per milliliter of blood becomes less.
If your blood has a less platelet count, extra care will have to be taken during your delivery, so that you don’t bleed too much, because in the absence of an appropriate number of platelets, it becomes extremely difficult to stop your bleeding.
At times, the platelet count becomes low due to a problem in your immune system such as Lupus, in which the healthy cells are attacked by your immune system.
Your gynecologist will know your condition through the help of blood tests and you will be monitored accordingly.
Very rarely, a woman may suffer from preeclampsia (also known as HELLP syndrome), which is characterized by an extremely low platelet count and signals a complication in your pregnancy. Other symptoms which you need to look out for in case of HELLP syndrome include:
- Pain above the belly and
- High blood pressure
If your platelet count is at a safe level, then no further treatment may be required but you’ll still be monitored if you’re planning on a caesarean delivery.
Ways to increase your platelet count
- Eat a diet rich in Vitamin B12 and folic acid. For this, you can include eggs, citrus fruits, spinach, milk, mutton and cheese in your diet. You can also take vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements.
- Try to be extra careful and reduce the chance of an injury. If you fall ill, you will not be able to take care of your newborn.
- Fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, berries, tomatoes, oranges and kiwis can help to increase the platelet count.
- Eat foods that make your immune system strong. These include fish and flax seed oil.
- Get appropriate sleep at night and some rest during the day. This helps to replenish the cells.
- Whenever you’re thirsty, drink Lukewarm water, since cold water tends to slow down digestion and affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
- Keep yourself away from junk food, processed foods, refined sugars, caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
- Exercise regularly to keep your heart healthy and boost your immune system.