Placenta previa is not on the list of common complications of pregnancy (1 in 200 pregnant women). It happens when the placenta blocks a portion or the whole opening of the cervix, leading to abnormal birth.
As you and your spouse adamantly wait for the coming of your greatest blessing, it’s usual to feel worried and afraid, especially the first time mothers. They are anxious to know whether their baby is healthy or if it has some complication. That is why it is imperative that appropriate prenatal visits must be done to avoid further problems. Nevertheless, pregnancy issues may still occur despite being careful, so it would help that women learn and educate themselves on what to anticipate.
The Placenta Described
The placenta is a thick organ that develops when a woman gets pregnant. It is round and flat, and it is connected to the baby through the umbilical cord. The placenta places a crucial role in the normal growth process of the fetus, as it is responsible for providing it with the necessary oxygen and nutrients. It is its first line of defense against bacteria and other foreign substances that may attempt to enter into the mother’s womb. It also produces specific hormones and functions to excrete the baby’s waste out of its system.
Possible Complications And How To Prevent Them
Placental problems sometimes are inevitable for pregnant women, and often, not much can be done to avoid these problems. However, there are things you can get rid of to lessen the possibilities. These include smoking and drug abuse.
Going to prenatal appointments is also must, as this can very well go a long way in discovering early signs of complications.
If women experience issues such as vaginal bleeding, abnormal uterine contractions, and severe back or abdominal pain, they are to contact their obstetrician immediately.
Placenta Previa Defined
Under normal circumstances, the placenta is connected above or at the side of the uterine wall and far from the cervix. If it does attach to the cervix either partially or completely, then we have a condition known as placenta previa.
During the first three months or about 28 months into the pregnancy, the location of the placenta doesn’t play a crucial role, as the uterus normally changes shape and location as the pregnancy continues. Most of the time, this is fixed when delivery time is nearing. The uterus normally pulls the placenta upward and further from the cervix to prevent the baby from being blocked as it exits the vagina.
If, however, on the 3rd week, the placenta is still blocking the cervix, then it is possible that it will no longer move upward. And when this happens, the doctor recommends the woman to undergo a cesarean section.
Symptoms Of Placenta Previa
Placenta previa can consequently lead to continuous vaginal bleeding throughout the pregnancy. What’s worse is that the bleeding has no accompanying pain and it worsens in the last trimester. It the woman is allowed to undergo labor, further bleeding may occur. The reason for this is that the dilatation of the cervix forces the placenta to be pulled further away from the uterine wall, which is why a cesarean section is most often the procedure of choice for this condition.
Important symptoms seen as possible proof of placenta previa include:
- Premature contractions
- A diagonal or breech position of the unborn baby
- Larger than usual size of the uterus during the pregnancy
Types of Placenta Previa
The three main types include:
- Complete placenta previa, which occurs when the organ is completely covering the vaginal canal from the uterine wall to the cervix.
- Partial placenta previa, which occurs when the placenta is only covering a portion of the birth canal.
- Marginal placenta previa, which occurs when the organ is located at the borders, though not covering, the birth canal.
The term low-lying placenta is interchangeably used to refer to marginal placenta previa and placenta previa. Additionally, posterior placenta previa and anterior placenta previa are used to describe the precise location of the placenta with respect to the uterus.
Management And Treatment Of Placenta Previa
The treatment of this condition will depend on the severity of bleeding, the location of the fetus and placenta, and its gestational age.
The C-section is highly recommended for those who have complete placenta previa, and possibly for the other types of placenta previa as well. The Cesarean section is a planned procedure for pregnant women who have placenta previa. It is usually done after the 36th week, but possibly earlier in case of heavy bleeding that is impossible to be stopped and may cause danger to the mother and the baby.
If bleeding can be controlled, then the doctor would recommend complete bed rest until delivery, with an important note that medical care should always be easily accessible in case bleeding resumes. Exercise and sexual intercourse are also to be avoided in the last three months of pregnancy.
Those with placenta previa and are suffering from excessive bleeding are recommended by their doctors to have IV fluids and blood transfusions. Medications such as magnesium sulfate, Brethine, and corticosteroids may also be given to maintaining normal fetal lung development before undergoing a cesarean section.
It has been said that prevention is better than cure, and it’s better safe than sorry. These hold true for all pregnant women who are anticipating the arrival of their baby. Placenta previa can be bothersome and may even be perilous in some cases, but is manageable – with your doctor’s help and with appropriate self-care. Unfortunately, you will have to deliver through C-section, but if this means delivering a healthy, happy and bouncing baby, then it’s all going to be worth it.
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