Low platelet count during pregnancy: what it means

Low platelet count during pregnancy

Low platelet count during pregnancy: what it means for you and your baby

What are Platelets?

Platelets are tiny cells in your blood and they circulate in your body. They help in blood clotting. The normal count of platelets is anywhere between 150 and 400 million per millilitre (ml) of blood. While most pregnant women have normal platelet counts, about eight per cent of pregnant women are known to have a slight drop. If you have a count between 100 and 150 million platelets per ml of blood, you’re said to have low platelets.

A low platelet count in pregnancy is medically termed as gestational thrombocytopenia. This usually happens in the third trimester of your pregnancy. However, it won’t harm your baby or your pregnancy. And once your baby is born, your platelet levels will return to normal.

Extremely low platelet count in pregnancy may mean:

  • You’re more likely to bleed either during birth, or during a caesarean section, or have heavier postnatal bleeding (lochia).
  • Doctors need to be extra cautious about giving you an epidural. This means, the epidural needle should be placed with utmost care to avoid any accidental puncture.
  • Occasionally, it can be a sign of dengue. So, if your platelet count drops during the dengue season, you might require immediate supervision and hospitalization.

In rare occasions, a very low platelet count could be due to a condition called HELLP syndrome. This is a complication of preeclampsia. Apart from low platelets, it also has the following symptoms:

  • preeclampsia symptoms, such as high blood pressure and protein in your urine
  • pain above your belly
  • headaches
  • nausea

Your doctor may want you to have treatment only if you have abnormal bleeding, or if you’re having a caesarean section. This treatment may include any of the following:

  • steroid tablets
  • an infusion of globulin (IVIG)
  • a transfusion of platelets or plasma to increase your platelet count and help stabilise your condition