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Placenta Previa: All You Need to Know

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Placenta Previa: All You Need to Know

Obstetrics and Gynaecology | Posted on 08/28/2023 by Dr. C. P. Dadhich



Introduction

If you are pregnant and in the second half of pregnancy, you must keep notice of signs like heavy bleeding or sharp pain as they can indicate placenta previa. It is a clinical condition that affects women during their pregnancy when the placenta covers all cervix parts. It can cause problems like bleeding, particularly during the third trimester. It is recommended to consider regular monitoring, bed rest, or hospitalization in some cases with this condition. There are treatment options to control heavy bleeding including C-sections in emergency cases. Early detection and required clinical care play an important role in ensuring the safe and healthy delivery of a baby. 

In this blog, we will include a comprehensive discussion on the placenta previa so make sure to give it a read till the end. Please note that the information provided is entirely research-based and doesn’t appreciate overlooking the need for a doctor’s consultation. You can book your appointment with Rukmani Birla Hospital in Jaipur for placenta previa treatment.

What is Placenta Previa?

Placenta previa is a condition experienced by females during pregnancy while the placenta covers the uterus opening partially or completely. The placenta is an organ that grows inside the female uterus when she is pregnant. It functions to deliver the required oxygen and nutrition to the baby and remove waste. The baby is connected by a placenta through the umbilical cord and is linked to the uterus's inner wall or the top or the side. 

The placenta connects itself lower in the uterus through the placenta previa. As a result, some placental tissue parts cover the cervix. It leads to bleeding during and after the delivery of a baby. The uterus and placenta changes when the woman is pregnant might cause issues correcting on its own. The baby is delivered by C-section if it doesn’t resolve on its own.

What are the types of Placenta Previa?

The different types of placenta previa are as:

  • Marginal placenta previa- It is located at the cervix edge, touching the cervix, but doesn’t cover it. This type usually doesn't require treatment and often resolves on its own before the delivery of a baby.
  • Partial placenta previa: This type is accountable for covering the cervix of a female. 
  • Complete or total placenta previa: This type is entirely linked to the cervix covering and blocking the vaginal area. It also resolves on its own like marginal placenta type. Each type of placenta previa can cause vaginal bleeding during pregnancy and labor. Due to the high risk of bleeding, most people will require a Caesarean (C-section) delivery.

What are Placenta Previa Symptoms?

One of the primary placenta previa symptoms is abrupt bleeding that is light to heavy from the vaginal area. Any bleeding is an indication of placenta issues and requires immediate clinical attention. Here are some of the other symptoms that are experienced: 

  • Sharp pains followed by cramps 
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse 
  • Bleeding in the pregnancy's second half 
  • Bleeding keeps starting, stopping, and beginning days or weeks after

What are Placenta Previa Causes?

There is no identified placenta previa cause. Some risk factors are there that enhance the risk of growing placenta previa which includes lifestyle habits and clinical history.

  • Smoking cigarettes and the use of regular cocaine 
  • People who are 35 years of age 
  • Pregnancy occurred several times 
  • The female is pregnant with twins, triplets, or more 
  • Uterus surgery which also includes a C-section or a dilation and curettage 
  • Uterine fibroids history

How is Placenta Previa Diagnosed?

One of the primary signs of placenta previa showed up during the twenty-week ultrasound test. However, the initial signs detected don’t pose any serious risks. But if a woman experiences any signs of bleeding during the second half of pregnancy, then it is recommended to get diagnosed with placenta previa. The doctors will initiate the diagnosis by understanding the symptoms of a patient and their medical history. Further, to confirm the diagnosis the doctor will involve monitoring the placenta position by using the following tests:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound: The doctor will view the vaginal canal and cervix by placing a probe inside the vagina. It is known as the perfect method to determine the placenta previa positioning.
  • Transabdominal ultrasound: The doctor will next look at the pelvic organs by placing a gel on the abdomen and moving a transducer, a handheld unit. It makes sound waves and creates images on the screen that look like a TV. 
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): With this imaging test, it would be easier for the doctor to identify the location of a patient. 

What are the options for Placenta Previa Treatment?

When the placenta previa is detected in the initial stages, it can resolve on its own. The placenta positioning can change once the uterus begins to expand so that the developing baby finds a familiar environment. There are very less chances that the placenta will keep moving in the uterus higher when the doctor diagnoses the condition in a later stage of pregnancy. The doctor will recommend the following treatment option if the placenta is near or covers the cervix part only. 

  • Decreasing the intensity of exercises such as running, lifting, etc. 
  • Taking bed rest at home as much as possible.
  • Ensure not to use tampons, douching, or get involved in sexual intercourse. 
  • Ensure regular prenatal checkups and ultrasounds 

There are recommended options for placenta treatment if the situation is moderate to severe. Here are these options: 

  • Medications to avert early labor 
  • Blood transfusions to stop heavy bleeding 
  • Emergency C-section to control heavy and out-of-control bleeding 
  • Complete bed rest in the hospital
  • Steroid shots to assist the baby’s lungs grow quicker 

Conclusion

Placenta previa is a curable condition and most females manage to deliver a healthy baby even with this condition. It is recommended to ensure following the instructions given by a healthcare professional for safe and effective delivery of a baby. Make sure to consult the doctor immediately if you observe signs of bleeding and discomfort.

FAQ 

 

How often do you bleed with placenta previa?

Bleeding usually starts during the second half of a pregnancy and keeps stopping or starting a few days later

Is placenta previa dangerous?

Yes, placenta previa is a dangerous condition as it puts the baby at high risk. 

Does placenta previa affect future pregnancies?

Women who have had placenta previa in the past have a 2-3 percent chance of having it again.