Placenta previa: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

4 min read

Pregnancy comes naturally to women and in most cases carries out smoothly for the duration of 9 months before delivering a healthy child.
However, few women might develop few complications which might cause few difficulties in them if left unnoticed. Placenta previa or low lying placenta is one of them and you must be aware of the causes, symptoms and treatment of the same if you are going to be a mother soon!

What is placenta previa in pregnancy?

Placenta is a structure, formed from the network of blood vessels inside the uterus of a pregnant woman, and is responsible for providing oxygen and nutrition to the baby. It gets connected to the umbilical cord of the fetus and attaches itself to the side or on the top of the uterus. Placenta previa  is a medical condition in which the placenta is attached low in uterus and tends to cover the cervix, partially or even fully. This results is early dilation of cervix and sometimes the placenta detaches itself from the uterus when the cervix begins to dilate during labor.

How common is placenta previa?

Though placenta previa is not very common among women but statistics reveal that around 0.5% of women undergo this complication which restricts their movements while they are pregnant. There are few cases where placenta previa is considered to occur, which are:

  • The pregnant woman is more than 35 years old.
  • The pregnant woman has undergone uterine surgeries like fibroids etc
  • The pregnant woman is carrying twins or triplets.
  • The pregnant woman has more than 4 children.
  • The pregnant woman has had placenta previa in previous pregnancies
  • The pregnant woman is a smoker or takes alcohol.

However, depending on health conditions, a woman having no such conditions, can also develop placenta previa during her pregnancy.


What are the Placenta Previa types?

Low lying placenta can be of three different kinds, which are as follows:

  • Complete placenta previa: This condition occurs when the placenta is very low and completes the entire opening of the cervix. This condition is more severe because the cervix may start dilating before time which may cause an early delivery of the child through C-Section.
  • Partial Placenta Previa: This condition occurs when the placenta is lower enough to cover a substantial portion of the cervix but not the whole. This is also considered to be a complication as it might hinder normal delivery of the child.
  • Marginal Placenta Previa: This is a condition where the placenta extends only upto the edge of the cervix. This is considered to be less complicated in comparison to the other two.

What Causes Placenta Previa?

The exact cause of placenta previa is not known however, there are some probable assumptions for the same, which are:

  • If the mother is old, more than 35-40 years of age.
  • If the mother has uterine abnormalities.
  • If the pregnancy is multiple with twins and triplets.
  • If the mother has undergone several pregnancies and miscarriages.
  • If the mother is under substance abuse, smoking or alcoholic.
  • If the pregnancy has taken place using artificial methods like IVF and IUI.

What Are The Placenta Previa Symptoms?

Slight to heavy bleeding during pregnancy is one of the most significant symptom of placenta previa in pregnancy.  The blood would be bright red in color and bleeding will not be continuous but occasional only which will continue for several weeks. There are several symptoms that a pregnant woman might notice in case she has a low lying placenta. They are:

  • Severe or mild cramps at the lower abdomen
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Excessive bleeding in the second trimester

What Is The Treatment For Placenta Previa?

The exact position of the placenta is usually understood by the radiologist during the first trimester screening of the fetus. If a woman is diagnosed with a low lying placenta, she needs more care than a woman without it. The treatment varies from woman to woman depending on the type of placenta previa in the pregnant woman. Usual advices are:

  • If the bleeding is light and near to spotting, medical practitioners usually recommend a complete bed rest for the woman. In this case, complete avoidance of intercourse as well as heavy exercise is also strongly advised to reduce further complicacy.
  • If the bleeding is heavy, then the woman might be admitted to the hospital for further diagnosis through ultrasound and recommending medicines as per the reports.
  • In case the bleeding doesn’t stop, the doctor might deliver the baby with an emergency c section procedure, even if the full term is not covered.

So if a pregnant woman is diagnosed with placenta previa, there is nothing to worry. After all every child born is a miracle and motherhood being a bliss, one should enjoy every phase of it.

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