Placenta Previa

When the placenta attaches to the bottom wall of the uterus, exactly at, or close to where the uterus opens at the cervix, it is referred to as placenta previa. Find more about the complications, symptoms and treatment for placenta previa.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2020 11:29 GMT

Placenta Previa
Placenta Previa

Placenta is an organ which develops during pregnancy inside the uterus. On its one end, it is attached to the inner uterine lining and its other end, connects to the umbilical cord of the growing fetus. Thus, placenta facilitates the supply of oxygen and nutrients from the mother's blood circulation to the fetus. Also, the fecal wastes are eliminated from the fetus through placenta.

What is placenta previa?

In normal pregnancies, the location on the uterus where the placenta forms is at the top or the sides of the uterus. In rare cases, in about 3 in 1000 pregnancies, the placenta attaches to the bottom wall of the uterus, exactly at, or close to where the uterus opens at the cervix. This condition is referred to as placenta previa.

What are the complications of placenta previa?

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When labor contractions begin or when close to full term, the cervix begins to dilate. Under this circumstance, the placenta that is attached near to the cervix begins to rupture, shedding blood. If left unattended, this can lead to serious complications to the mother and the baby due to hemorrhage. Also, almost all pregnant mothers with placenta previa are advised for a cesarean section as normal delivery can pose risks.

What are the symptoms of placenta previa?

Before any symptoms arise, placenta previa can be detected by the doctor during a regular ultrasound. The most common sign of placenta previa is bright red blood discharge through the vagina, mostly in the late third trimester. Some patients may experience contractions along with bleeding without pain.

How is placenta previa treated?

There is no treatment for placenta previa though the mother and the baby can be helped out from risks through safe delivery. Once placenta previa is diagnosed through ultrasound, the mother will be closely monitored for symptoms of vaginal bleeding and premature contractions.

The mother will be mandatorily advised for rest from movements and activities which may disturb the pelvic area like exercise and sex.

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If there are signs of vaginal bleeding after 34 weeks, delivery through c-section will be immediately performed. Vaginal delivery will not be recommended as the placenta is most likely to block the baby during delivery.


In the case of premature dilation of cervix followed by bleeding, baby will be taken out via c-section and have to be monitored under intensive care until baby's lung functions come to normal.

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