Placenta Previa: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Up until you give birth, the placenta is supporting the growth and development of your baby. So if there is a problem with your placenta, there will be serious problems for your baby. Now, let's look at what these problems could be and how to deal with them.

What is this Organ?

An oxygen supply


The placenta is where your fertilized egg has implanted in the uterus and the egg grows from there. After around 4 months pregnancy, about 13 weeks, the chorionic villi has developed and the whole of the said organ is now formed. It produces hormones, supplies oxygen and cleans out waste. This organ contains your body’s biggest blood vessel and will pass plentiful amounts of fresh nutrients and oxygen to your baby, and there are two smaller blood vessels that will carry away the waste produced in your baby’s body and also the carbon dioxide gas.

The organ protects and isolates

Not everything passes through the placenta to your baby. It acts like a filter removing all the harmful things that could affect your baby. However some medications will pass through this organ to your baby and could affect your baby so caution must be used while taking medication. Antibodies will be passed from the mommy to the baby through the said organ to help strengthen the baby's own immune system, and these antibodies will remain within your baby for 6 months after birth.

Placenta Previa

Blocking the cervix

Most of the time your organ will either be on the side or the top of your uterus but on a few occasions it might cover the cervix. This is called placenta previa. There are 3 types of placenta previa. When the placenta covers the entire cervix, this is called “whole placenta previa”, when covering part of the cervix, it is called “partial placenta previa”, and when only touching the very edge of the cervix, it is called “edge placenta previa”.

A symptom of placenta previa is heavy bleeding

In the late term of your pregnancy, the cervix will start to widen and the said organ which is covering the cervix will start to peel off and start bleeding. This bleeding is usually heavy but with no associated pain. In some situations, bleeding might not be too severe and could even stop. But if bleeding starts again and is very heavy, this could lead to shock and even death. Most situations where severe bleeding occurs lead to the pregnant woman having a c-section.

Stay calm and peaceful

If you have been told you have placenta previa, you must remain calm, try and adopt a peaceful mind, and avoid any chance of bleeding. If you had this condition in a previous pregnancy, then you are more likely to have it again in your next pregnancy. It is best to stay in the hospital for as long as you can before your pregnancy due date. Most placenta previa pregnancies result in the mommy having a c-section especially if heavy bleeding occurs around 38 weeks.

Placental Abruption

Peels away from the womb wall

The placenta peeling away from the wall of your womb before you give birth is called a placenta abruption. This condition is not very common but can lead to very serious complications and heavy bleeding. The organ provides oxygen to your baby so after it has peeled away, a quick deliver is essential for the survival of the baby.

Be mindful of diseases and bumping your tummy

After around 20 weeks of your pregnancy, high blood pressure must be avoided because it can lead to possible cerebral hemorrhage, toxemia of pregnancy, chronic nephritis, infection, miscarriage or early labor, bleeding before labor, or a stillbirth. You must also be very careful to avoid any bumps on your tummy as any sudden movement could cause a placental abruption.

Severe pains in your tummy and a little bleeding

Placental abruption usually happens between 8 to 9 months pregnancy. It does not feel like a regular contraction pain but more like a creeping sharp internal pain. Another symptom is a little bleeding but usually not too much.

Bleeding means go to the hospital immediately

Bleeding caused by a placenta abruption means you must go to the hospital immediately. Because there is now no oxygen being supplied to your baby, this could seriously harm the baby but if you go to hospital quickly, you can still deliver a perfectly healthy baby. While giving birth, you may experience more bleeding than usual and so you may require a blood transfusion.

If you have been told by your doctor that there’s a problem with your placenta, ask him/her immediately on what to do and if there’s any medication you can take to possibly fix it.

Sandra Henderson

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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