The placenta provides a growing baby with nutrients, oxygen and produces hormones to support your pregnancy whilst also removing waste the baby produces to the mother’s bloodstream. The placenta connects to your baby via the umbilical cord.
Placenta praevia is when the placenta implants itself at the base of the uterus or near the entrance to the cervix. This means the baby cannot be born vaginally. Often a placenta praevia will be identified between 18-20 weeks when you have your ultrasound. Often a repeat scan will be recommended at 32 weeks gestation. The reason for this is, often as the uterus expands due to the growth of the baby the placenta can move up the uterine wall away from the cervix.
From 24 weeks onwards of your pregnancy you may experience some vaginal bleeding. Often the blood is bright red in colour and is not associated with any pain. This bleeding can be dangerous to you and it is important that you are close to a hospital during this time. The bleeding revealed is from the mother, not the baby. It is recommended that you do not travel, no intercourse or strenuous exercise or lifting during your pregnancy. Occasionally if bleeding is recurrent, you may have to be hospitalised for longer periods.
Following your repeat scan at 32 weeks, if the placenta is still covering or partially covering the cervix then your only option for delivery of your baby is via caesarean section.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to move the position of the placenta – the only hope is to see if it moves naturally as the uterus expands over the course of the pregnancy.
Most women do not have any major complications but if there are, they can be serious. In some cases severe bleeding can occur following delivery and this can result in a hysterectomy or blood transfusion.
Placenta Praevia is more common in older women, IVF pregnancies, women who have had a previous caesarean section, or those women who have uterine fibroids.
If you have placenta praevia it is best to speak with your obstetrician about your circumstance and the steps that can be taken to assist you throughout your pregnancy journey.
Please contact the practice of Dr Guy Skinner –specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist for more information about pregnancy services , programmes and fees . We are here to assist you in preparing for your pregnancy journey.