Understand the Complication attached to Placenta Previa

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 08, 2013
Quick Bites

  • Placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy.
  • Its main function is to nourish the baby.
  • The condition is only diagnosed after 20 weeks of gestation.
  • Its treatment depends on several factors.

Placenta previa is a problem of pregnancy in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb (uterus) and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix.

pregnant woman being examinedThe placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. Its purpose is to nourish the baby. Oxygen and nutrients pass through the placenta to the baby. Waste products pass back out to the mother’s blood stream. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. With this condition, the placenta may cover part or the entire cervix. This condition is only diagnosed after 20 weeks of gestation.

The Department Of Paediatrics, NYU Langone Medical Center describes the situation in detail.


There are no guidelines for preventing placenta previa. However, if you have it, you need to do the following to prevent bleeding:
Have the condition checked regularly.

Carefully follow any instructions you are given regarding bed rest and what to do if you have bleeding or contractions.


Treatment depends on several factors, including the amount of bleeding.

If placenta previa is diagnosed through an ultrasound but you have no bleeding, you do not need any treatment besides having the condition checked regularly. Your doctor may suggest that you take extra iron and folate in case you do have bleeding.

If only minor bleeding occurs and your pregnancy is 36 weeks or less, you may need to go on bed rest. If the bleeding stops, you may be allowed to get out of bed. However, you still need to be careful due to the risk of sudden bleeding. You should avoid intercourse and orgasm because they may start contractions and cause trauma to your cervix.

If the bleeding is heavy or your pregnancy is 37 weeks or more, the baby is delivered. You will most likely need a caesarean section.


•    Abnormal bleeding, sometimes heavy- Bleeding is usually not accompanied by pain, although uterine cramping may occur at the time of bleeding in some women. In 7% to 30% of women there may be no bleeding at all.

•    Premature separation of the placenta from the uterus.

•    It could cause premature birth.

•    Emergency caesarean (c-section) delivery.

•    Problems with penetration of the placenta into the uterine muscle or through the entire uterine wall.


•    A scarred endometrium—the lining of the uterus

•    A large placenta

•    An abnormal uterus

•    Abnormal formation of the placenta

Risk Factors

•    Previous caesarean section

•    Uterine problems, such as fibroids

•    Multiple pregnancy—two or more fetuses

•    Multiple previous full-term pregnancies

•    Increased age

•    Smoking


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam will not be done if placenta previa is a possibility. A pelvic exam may cause bleeding. Instead, an ultrasound will be done through the vagina or abdomen to view the placenta in the uterus. If placenta previa is detected early in pregnancy, with or without bleeding, another ultrasound will be done during the third trimester to be sure it has resolved.

It is only natural for you to feel anxious and get worried if you are diagnosed with placentia previa, but you have to tackle it with a brave heart. Get help from doctor, and learn as much as you can on this. Your priority is to help yourself deliver a healthy baby.

Read more articles on Problems during Pregnancy

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