Low lying placenta, also known as Placenta Previa is one of the many dangerous complications of pregnancy. It occurs when the baby’s placenta covers part or all of the cervix during the last trimester of pregnancy. This condition typically results in severe bleeding before or during delivery.
The placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. Its function is to provide nutrients and oxygen to the growing baby. While it is normal for the placenta to be low in the uterus at the beginning of pregnancy, it always moves to the top position as the uterus stretches and increases its size, thereby making the cervix clear for delivery.
However, if the placenta fails to move to the top of the uterus, but instead attaches itself to a part or the whole cervix, it becomes a problem known as placenta previa or low lying placenta. Women diagnosed with this condition often require bed rest.
The major symptom of placenta previa is a sudden light or heavy vaginal bleeding. Meanwhile, other signs and symptoms of placenta previa, include cramps or sharp pain, bleeding after sex, bleeding during the second half of pregnancy as well as bleeding that could start and stop at any time.
Low lying placenta can be dangerous for a vaginal birth because the mother could easily experience severe hemorrhage during delivery or during the first few hours after delivery. Low lying placenta can therefore necessitate an emergency C-section even if the baby is still premature to reduce the risk of possibly bleeding to death.
Although any woman can suffer from placenta previa, the major risk factors include;
• Being older than 35
• Having a large placenta
• Having had a prior miscarriage
• Being pregnant with twins or other multiples
• Having had surgeries like caesarean, D&C (Dilation and Curettage) or surgery to remove a uterine fibroid
• Having already given birth
• An unusual position of the baby such as breach or transverse
• Having an abnormally shaped uterus
In treating placenta previa, doctors often take a few things into consideration, including the amount of bleeding, the baby’s health, how old the pregnancy is as well as the position of the baby and that of the placenta. For cases of severe bleeding, patients may require bed rest, blood transfusion and medications to avoid premature labor. The doctor may also advise that a C-section is scheduled as soon as the baby is safe for delivery.