What is Placenta Previa?
The placenta carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby and eliminates waste materials from the baby’s blood. It normally attaches to the top or side of the uterus’ wall, however, in women with Placenta Previa, the placenta attaches to the bottom portion of the uterus’ wall, either partially or completely covering the cervix where the baby will exit during birth. Placenta Previa causes extreme bleeding before or during delivery.
What are some of the causes for Placenta Previa?
Some of the most common causes include:
- Scar tissue in the wall of the uterus
- A larger than normal placenta resulting from the presence of more than one fetus
- A uterus that has an odd shape
Are there symptoms that indicate the presence of Placenta Previa?
Yes. The most common one is bright red blood that passes from the vagina without the accompaniment of any pain. The flow of blood can range from light to substantial and typically stops on its own. However, the bleeding usually reappears within a few days or weeks. In some cases, the blood flow is accompanied by contractions. If this bleeding occurs call your doctor immediately.
Are some women more susceptible to Placenta Previa than others?
- Yes. The women who fall into this category include those who:
- Have had a C-section or a procedure to remove fibroids from the uterus
- Have already delivered a baby
- Are pregnant with twins or triplets
- Have had Placenta Previa during a previous pregnancy
- Are 35 years old or older
- Are smokers
What types of complications does Placenta Previa cause?
The most serious complication is extreme bleeding during labor, delivery or in the first few hours after delivery. If the bleeding is severe enough it can be life threatening to the mother. The other complication arising from severe bleeding is the need for an emergency C-section before your baby is full term.
How is Placenta Previa treated?
Treatment is determined by a number of factors, but the most important one is the level of bleeding. If there is only a limited amount of bleeding, your doctor will likely recommend bed rest at home. You will probably have to remain in bed and only sit and stand when necessary. You will also have to avoid sex and exercise because these activities can stimulate bleeding.
If the blood flow is heavy, your doctor will probably recommend hospital bed rest. S/he may also prescribe a transfusion to replace lost blood and medications to prevent premature labor. You will most likely be given a C-section after 36 weeks of pregnancy unless the situation is too severe to wait, such as in cases in which the bleeding cannot be stopped. In that case an immediate C-section is the treatment of choice.