Placenta Previa – Cesarean is Likely

If you are pregnant and experience Placenta Previa you will most likely have a cesarean section or c-section birth.  That’s because with Placenta Previa the placenta covers the opening to the cervix or birth canal and if this happens it’s difficult to have a vaginal birth without complication.

Placenta Previa is characterized by sudden, but painless, vaginal bleeding that generally occurs near the end of the second or beginning of the third trimester and there can be severe bleeding, or hemorrhage. The bleeding may sometimes stop but it can start up again a few days or even weeks later.

What actually happens is as the cervix widens and thins, the placenta can tear causing blood loss compromising both the health of the mother and the baby.  If the placenta covers the cervix completely and bleeding is heavy or life threatening, an emergency c-section may need be done.

One bit of good news is that if your doctor finds out before your 20th week of pregnancy that the placenta is attached low in the uterus, there’s a good chance that it could get better on its own. That’s because as your baby develops and the lower portion of your uterus grows, the position of the placenta can change. So by the end of your pregnancy, the placenta may no longer be blocking the cervix.

There are actually 3 types of Placenta Previa.  There is ‘complete‘ where the cervix is completely covered, ‘partial‘ where only a portion of the placenta is covering the cervix or low lying or marginal where the placenta is very close to the cervix but doesn’t cover it.

Placenta Previa occurs in about 1 out of 200 pregnancies and no one really knows for sure what causes it.  We do know however, that women who smoke or have children at an older age are more at risk.  There is also a risk to women who have had many previous pregnancies, multiple birth pregnancies, have an abnormally developed uterus or have scarring of the uterine wall that was the result of uterine surgery such as a cesarean section or even abortions.

Another common cause of Placenta Previa is having had a previous cesarean section. Whenever you have surgical intervention, there is a chance of scarring internally. This  scar tissue or adhesions in the uterus could explain why the placenta moves lower.  Births among older women or women who smoke have a greater chance of developing this condition as well.

If Placenta Previa is suspect don’t panic, an ultrasound will be done later in pregnancy and if it does occur, you and your doctor will discuss options so that you and your baby will both be safe and sound.  Placenta Previa is manageable, it may mean having a cesarean section but the bottom line is you and your baby will be healthy and safe.

For more information on Placenta Previa, cesarean sections and  having a stress free, worry free Cesarean birth, don’t miss the Worry Free C-section recovery and preparation guide.

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