A placenta previa primer

Pregnancy can be both a time of bliss and a time of challenges, including placenta previa for about 1 in 200 women.

Placenta previa is when the placenta, which supplies babies with food and oxygen, lies low in the uterus and covers part or all of the opening to the vagina. Early in pregnancy, it usually isn’t an issue since the placenta grows upward, however, if the placenta is blocking the birth canal later on, it can prevent vaginal delivery and cause serious bleeding.

“If you are concerned about placenta previa or have received a diagnosis, your doctor can let you know what activities to limit, your treatment options and any signs that may mean you need to go to the hospital,” said Dr. David Clay. “Our goal is always to support the health of you and your baby, and it’s good to remember that this is temporary.”

It’s often a condition without symptoms that is discovered through an ultrasound; some women also have painless bleeding or mild cramping associated with placenta previa. Risk factors can include previous c-sections, pregnancy with multiples, smoking, age 35 and older and history of fibroids.

Treatment varies depending on the timing and overall health of mom and body. The aim is to stay pregnant as close to 40 weeks as possible, which may entail reducing activities, bed rest and a Cesarean section. Women with a lot of bleeding may have blood transfusion and steroids to help the baby’s lungs and other organs develop faster.



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