Pregnancy and delivery in women with von Willebrand disease

Eur J Haematol. 2019 Aug;103(2):73-79. doi: 10.1111/ejh.13250. Epub 2019 May 31.


Given the wide heterogeneity of phenotypes and of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms associated with the disorder, pregnancy and delivery in von Willebrand disease (VWD) represent a significant clinical challenge. The variable pattern of changes observed during pregnancy of von Willebrand factor (VWF) and factor VIII (FVIII), the protein carried by VWF, prompts a careful evaluation of pregnant women with VWD to plan the most appropriate treatment at the time of parturition. However, there are also instances during pregnancy (amniocentesis, vaginal bleeding associated with placental detachment, sudden abortion) that may require urgent hemostatic treatment to prevent bleeding. Thus, women with VWD should start pregnancy after being well characterised as to their type, subtype and treatments. Women with VWD who have VWF and FVIII basal levels >30 U/dL typically normalise these levels at the end of pregnancy and specific anti-haemorrhagic prophylaxis is seldom required. On the contrary, those with basal levels <20 U/dL usually show a lesser increase and specific treatment is required. Some women with DNA variants associated with increased clearance can be treated with desmopressin, while those unresponsive or with contra-indications to this agent need replacement therapy. For these latter women, the risk of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy may be increased and prophylaxis with VWF concentrates required. Similarly, women with type 2 VWD who maintain reduced VWF activity throughout pregnancy require replacement therapy with FVIII/VWF concentrates. Delayed postpartum bleeding may occur when replacement therapy is not continued for some days. Tranexamic acid is useful at discharge to avoid excessive lochia.

Keywords: factor VIII; inherited bleeding disorders; pregnancy; von Willebrand disease; von Willebrand factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amniocentesis
  • Biopsy
  • Delivery, Obstetric* / methods
  • Delivery, Obstetric* / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Management
  • Factor VIII
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Parturition* / blood
  • Postpartum Period
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / therapy*
  • Risk
  • von Willebrand Diseases / blood
  • von Willebrand Diseases / diagnosis*
  • von Willebrand Diseases / epidemiology
  • von Willebrand Diseases / therapy*
  • von Willebrand Factor


  • von Willebrand Factor
  • F8 protein, human
  • Factor VIII