Placenta is an organ that develops inside the lining of the uterus during pregnancy. The duty of the placenta is to provide nutrition and oxygen from you to the baby and to remove waste away from your baby. Placenta is connected to the baby through the umbilical cord. In majority of pregnancies, placenta attaches at the side or top portion of the uterus, away from the cervix.
During pregnancy, as the womb grows and increase in size, the placenta moves accordingly. Placenta sitting low in the womb in the early part of the pregnancy is not something uncommon. But as the pregnancy progresses, the placenta is supposed to move to the top of the womb and by the third trimester, placenta should be sitting near the top of the womb, making the cervix open for delivery.
Having diagnosed with placenta previa can be a shocking and frustrating experience with all the excitement around the pregnancy. Placenta previa happens when placenta partially or fully covers the mother’s cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. In placenta previa, placenta lies low to the uterus. As you might know, during a normal delivery what happens is the baby passes from the uterus into the cervix and through the birth canal. As the cervix dilates during labor, it could lead to tearing of blood vessels that connect placenta to the uterus. Eventually placenta may separate from the uterine wall during labor. This may trigger bleeding throughout your pregnancy and during delivery, putting both the mother and the baby at risk. Majority of women who suffer from this condition will have to go for a C-section to prevent it from happening. If you suffer from this condition, your doctor may advise you to avoid having sex, douching, limit travelling or any activity that can cause bleeding, even running, squatting and jumping.
Symptoms of placenta previa:
First sign of placenta previa is bright red vaginal bleeding in the second half of maternity without any pain. The bleeding can be light to heavy. Most of the placenta previa cases are discovered during a routine ultrasound during pregnancy. Some women may experience contractions. However, the good news is in majority of women, who are diagnosed to have placenta previa, the condition resolves. The distance between the cervix and placenta increases in accordance with the growth of the uterus.
Am I susceptible to placenta previa?
The ratio of placenta previa developing in a woman is 1:200 in the third trimester of the pregnancy. You are prone to the condition if:
It’s time to see a doctor…
If you see blood in your vagina during your second or third trimester, call your doctor right away. However, if the bleeding is heavy, seek emergency medical care.
Complications of placenta previa:
If you are diagnosed with the condition, your doctor will monitor you and your unborn baby to avoid the risk of the following complications.
Bleeding: If timely treatment is not sought, it could lead to heavy bleeding, potentially life-threatening bleeding (hemorrhage). Bleeding can happen during labor, delivery or in the first few hours after the birth of the baby.
Premature birth: In order to avoid causing further complications to mother and the child, doctors may go for emergency Cesarean section before the full term of the pregnancy.
Types of placenta previa:
There are different types of placenta previa. They are the following:
Complete previa: Cervical opening is completely covered by placenta
Partial previa: A portion or part of cervix is covered by placenta
Marginal previa: Placenta is very close to the cervix, but the opening is not covered
Treatment for placenta previa:
Once you are diagnosed with placenta previa, you require bed rest and frequent hospital visits. Depending on the level of pregnancy, in order to mature the baby’s lung, steroid shots may be administered. If the bleeding of the mother is profuse and uncontrollable with conservative treatment modalities, the doctor may go in for an emergency Cesarean section to prevent the condition worsening further. In some cases of marginal previa, vaginal delivery is possible is attempted. However, for complete previa and partial previa, Cesarean section is a necessity.
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