The Atchafalaya clinic provides perinatal care to women of all ages. Dr. Morice also specializes in tubal reversal surgery. Placenta previa is a condition seen in 1 in 200 pregnancies. Read more to learn about the condition and how it is treated.
What is the placenta?
The placenta is an organ that forms once a fertilized egg implants in a woman’s uterus. The placenta is pancake shaped with an average diameter of nine inches and a weight of one pound. It connects the fetus and the mother’s uterine wall and is vital to the fetus’ wellbeing during development. Through passive and active diffusion, nutrients and oxygen are passed from the mother to the fetus. Waste produced by the fetus is also sent to the mother via the placenta.
What is placenta previa?
In a normal pregnancy, the placenta is attached to the top or side of the uterus, allowing an open cervix for delivery. Placenta previa is when the placenta is attached to the bottom of the uterus obstructing all or a portion of the mother’s cervical opening.
There are three types of placenta previa. These are marginal, partial, and complete placenta previa.
• Marginal placenta previa: Placenta is on lower part of uterus and near cervix but not blocking the opening of the cervix.
• Partial placenta previa: Placenta is partially blocking the opening of the cervix.
• Complete placenta previa: Placenta is fully blocking the opening of the cervix.
The placenta moves during pregnancy. Women may be diagnosed with placenta previa mid-pregnancy, around 16-20 weeks. The placenta, however, will typically migrate up the side of the uterus during pregnancy and pose no risk.
What are the symptoms of placenta previa?
Women with placenta previa typically report having bright red vaginal bleeding with little or no pain. Cramping may also occur but it is less common. Placenta previa can occur as early as 24 weeks through delivery at full term (37 weeks). It is diagnosed after confirmation via ultrasound. If you experience vaginal bleeding at any time during your pregnancy, contact your doctor immediately.
How is placenta previa treated?
As mentioned before, if you are mid-pregnancy and have placenta previa, there is a chance the placenta will move away from the cervix and cause no problems during delivery. If you are close to full-term, however, treatment depends on your health, the health of your baby, how heavy your bleeding is, and how far along in your pregnancy you are.
Women with placenta previa will likely be placed on pelvic rest, which means no intercourse, vaginal exams, or tampon use until delivery. You may also be advised to avoid heavy lifting or housework to prevent bleeding.
If you have placenta previa and are near to full term, you will most likely need to have a C-section. Placenta previa blocks the opening of the cervix, so your baby will have no way to get out. Even if your cervical opening is only partially blocked, vaginal delivery with placenta previa can cause heavy bleeding.
If you are having heavy bleeding due to placenta previa, you may be hospitalized and an emergency C-section may be necessary. Again, it’s important for both you and your baby’s health to call your doctor immediately if you have any vaginal bleeding.
Who is at increased risk for placenta previa?
Women who have had placenta previa before are at a higher risk for having it again. Multiple gestations (pregnant with multiples) can also increase your risk. Smoking and cocaine use increase the risk of placenta previa, as well. Lastly, as age and number of pregnancies increase, so does the risk of placenta previa.
If you are interested in tubal reversal surgery or looking for an experienced OB-GYN in Morgan City, LA, call our office today at (985) 702-BABY. We look forward to meeting you!