Placenta previa is a condition which occurs when a baby’s placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix. Placenta previa can cause severe bleeding before or during delivery. The placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby and removes waste products from the baby’s blood. It attaches to the wall of the uterus, and the baby’s umbilical cord arises from it. In most pregnancies, the placenta attaches at the top or side of the uterus. In placenta previa, the placenta attaches to the lower area of the uterus.
What Causes Placenta Previa?
When the embryo implants itself in the bottom of the uterus, the placenta can grow over the cervix in varying degrees. The placenta may just barely reach the cervix, which may allow the situation to correct itself, as the uterus will expand and draw the placenta away from the cervical opening. But, in some cases, the placenta will completely cover the cervix. An ultrasound will usually reveal cases of placenta previa in the second trimester.
What are the Symptoms of Placenta Previa?
Bright red bleeding from the vagina, usually in the second half of pregnancy, can signal placenta previa. The bleeding may vary from slight to heavy, and may discontinue without treatment. If placenta previa has taken place, the bleeding will reoccur. For this reason, it is important to contact your health care provider to discuss these symptoms.
What are the Risks Associated with Placenta Previa?
As labor begins, your cervix will gradually open. With placenta previa, as the cervix begins to open, the portion of the placenta covering the cervix will detach. The detachment of the placenta from the uterus is called placental abruption, which can cause vaginal bleeding. Because there is a risk of fetal hemorrhage connected to placenta previa, your health care professional should closely monitor your pregnancy and discuss the necessity of a caesarean section delivery. The risk of fetal hemorrhage is dangerous due to the fetus’ low volume of blood circulation. Brain injury can result if the baby is not immediately delivered.
What to Expect if Diagnosed with Placenta Previa
Depending on the degree of bleeding you experience, your medical professional may suggest avoidance of sexual intercourse or vaginal exams. Your condition may require hospitalization until the baby is mature enough for delivery. Caesarean section delivery will be required with this condition as there is a risk of hemorrhage with vaginal delivery.