Placenta Previa: What It Means & What You Can Do
What happens when you’re diagnosed with Placenta Previa, what does it even mean?
The placenta is an incredible organ that your body begins growing inside of your uterus when you become pregnant. It has a very important job, as it takes nutrients and oxygen from your blood and delivers them to your growing baby. The placenta also filters the toxins out of your baby’s blood, and delivers them to your blood, to then get rid of. Typically, the placenta takes its position in the top of the uterus, but this isn’t always the case.
What Is It & Why Is It Risky?
In early pregnancy, the placenta begins to grow at the bottom of your uterus, but eventually, it moves up and will sit at the top. Placenta Previa is a medical condition in which your placenta did not migrate to the top of your uterus, instead it stayed at the bottom, and this diagnosis affects about 1 in 200 women in the U.S. The problem with having a low lying placenta, is that it can either partially or fully cover the opening of the cervix. This means that when labor begins and the cervix opens, the placenta may begin to detach from the uterus and enter the birth canal before the baby, causing internal bleeding. There are different severities of Placenta Previa, and if the placenta is only partially covering the opening of the cervix, there is still a perfectly good chance for a healthy vaginal delivery. However, if the placenta is entirely covering the cervical opening, it is widely recommended to deliver via cesarean section.
How Do You Know If You Have It & What To Do?
Women who have scars on their uterus from previous surgeries, who are carrying multiples, who have had a low lying placenta in the past, are over 35, or smoke/use drugs are at a higher risk of developing Placenta Previa. As your placenta develops, its location can be seen on an ultrasound, or MRI machine. Ruling out Placenta Previa may be one of the big reasons your Midwife or Doctor would request an ultrasound. Symptoms such as bleeding or preterm contractions are signs and you should seek assistance immediately. If you are diagnosed with it early on in your pregnancy, it is possible for it to resolve on its own. However, if the placenta is continuing to cover more and more of the cervix and if you are later on in your pregnancy, there is a larger chance that it will not resolve on its own. If you continue to bleed heavily due to Placenta Previa, it is likely you will be admitted to the hospital and kept under close observation. Regardless of the severity, you be required to go on bed rest, may have steroid shots administered to help baby’s lungs develop (so they are prepared in case of preterm delivery), have frequent check-ups, and avoid any and all vaginal contact (sex, pelvic exams etc).
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The good news is that a low-lying placenta can be diagnosed, monitored and sometimes even fix itself with a bit of rest. Modern technology is really incredible and saves so many lives every day. It’s important to know that your healthcare professional is there to guide you and wants the baby to stay safe on inside until full term. As difficult (or boring) as it may be to listen to their advice about bed rest (and no sex while you’re stuck there), there are good reasons behind their requests. There are a couple of support groups on Facebook, which is a fantastic place to connect with other mothers who are going through the same thing! Whether you chose to give birth via c-section, or chose to give birth vaginally, or are forced to give birth via c-section, or forced to give birth vaginally, either way, you are a superhero for doing so! Remember that the main goal is to deliver a healthy baby, how that happens is such a small piece of the whole picture.
Tags: bed rest, C-Section, giving birth, low lying placenta, Placenta, Placenta Previa, pregnancy questions, what is placenta previa