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Placenta Previa

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Placenta is the organ that nourishes the baby inside the mother’s womb via the umbilical cord. It’s attached to the upper end of the uterus, away from the proximity of the cervix. Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta lies unusually low in the uterus, almost covering the opening of the cervix.


What are the types of placenta previa

Placenta previa could be low lying, which means it’s very near to the cervix but hasn’t covered it. In case of partial or marginal, the placenta grows on the border of the cervix while total placenta previa covers and blocks the cervix.


What causes placenta previa?

Chances of having placenta previa are high when the embryo implants in the lower part of the uterus. However, there are certain factors that increase the risk of having placenta previa. They are:

  • Women who had placenta previa in previous pregnancy
  • Previous history of C section delivery and uterine surgery
  • Women who have abnormally shaped uterus
  • Women who had given birth to twins, triplets, etc.
  • Advanced maternity age group women who are trying to conceive
  • Women who smoke and are addicted to drugs like cocaine

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Symptoms of placenta previa

The classical symptom of placenta previa is sudden bleeding from the vagina after 20th week of pregnancy. Usually no pain is associated with the bleeding, but there might be uterine contractions. The bleeding could be light or heavy. It might stop without treatment.


When to call the doctor?

You need to see your doctor immediately on observing vaginal bleeding during your second or third trimester.


How is placenta previa diagnosed?

The position of the placenta can be diagnosed through abdominal ultrasound. Sometimes an ultrasound may not be able to distinguish between placenta previa and abruption. Under such circumstances, your doctor may conduct a transvaginal ultrasound to ensure that the bleeding is not occurring from the vagina or the cervix.

The heart rate of the baby will also be diagnosed.

Thereafter, regular appointments will be scheduled to monitor pregnancy, probability of complication and development of the baby.


What’s the treatment for placenta previa?

The treatment is dependent on several factors-primarily on the nature of bleeding and the growth of baby.

If there’s very little bleeding, then your doctor will not consider doing anything. You just need to rest most of the time and avoid exercise and intercourse. Doctors say that it resolves on its own.

You may need blood transfusion if blood loss is severe. Some medications may also be prescribed to control bleeding. Women with placenta previa mostly undergo C section delivery, nevertheless normal delivery can be allowed in marginal placenta previa.

If your due date is close by, then your doctor might perform amniocenteses to check if the baby is ready to be delivered. However, for uncontrolled bleeding or if your baby is at risk, an emergency C-section is likely to be done. So mentally you have to prepare yourself to give birth to a premature baby.

However, medical facilities are quite prompt to take care of you and your baby post delivery.


Are there any complications of placenta previa?

The possible complication that may arise due to excessive bleeding is- haemorrhage during labour and delivery or after delivery, which is potentially life threatening. Secondly, chances of premature delivery also lie, after which your child will be in intensive care unit.

However, majority of women undergoing proper treatment will deliver healthy babies even with placenta previa. Discuss with your doctor and sort out the risks before planning pregnancy.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: Feburary 01, 2014