Placenta Previa

What Is Placenta Previa?

With placenta previa the placenta lies close to or covers the cervix. Although it is not that common, it can be very serious because of the chance of heavy bleeding during pregnancy or even during labor. It is not entirely understood what may cause placenta previa, although there are risk factors which may increase the chance of it, such as having previously had a cesarean section.

What are the symptoms of placenta previa?

With placenta previa, there is really only one major symptom and that is painless bleeding without contractions, but this usually doesn’t occur until close to the end of the second trimester, once the cervix thins out. Placenta previa may cause heavy bleeding, without warning.

Placenta previa occurs when the cervix starts to thin out, which causes the placenta to tear and stretch loose, which would then result in the flow of blood.

How is placenta previa diagnosed and what are the consequences?

Doctors usually use ultrasound to determine and confirm placenta previa, as a pelvic exam may cause heavier bleeding.

It is also more common for the baby to be in a breech position when placenta previa is present which could cause you to give birth via cesarean section rather than naturally, which may cause heavier bleeding.

The advantages of having a cesarean section is that the baby can be delivered and then the placenta may be removed, minimizing blood loss and allowing the uterus to contract.

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