Placenta Previa is a rare medical condition. Less than a million cases of placenta previa occur each year in India. It occurs when the placenta blocks the uterus opening; it interferes with the natural process of childbirth.
The placenta is a sac-like organ that develops in the mother’s uterus during pregnancy. It provides nutrition and oxygen to the baby and removes the waste products from the womb. The placenta detaches from the uterus on the birth of the baby.
In most pregnancies, the placenta is present in the lower part of the uterus during the early stages. As the pregnancy develops, the uterus stretches to accommodate the growing baby. The placenta moves to the top of the uterus and allows the uterine opening a clear passage to deliver the baby.
Placenta Previa occurs when the placenta stays attached to the lower part of the uterus, blocking the opening either partly or entirely.
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What are the Causes of Placenta Previa?
You are at risk of developing Placenta Previa if you have:
- ● Breech or transverse positioning of the baby in the womb
- ● Previous surgeries of the uterus
- ● History of multiple pregnancies
- ● History of placenta previa
- ● Had previous miscarriages
- ● Uterine abnormalities
- ● A large placenta
- ● Age is over 35 years
- ● History of smoking or cocaine use
What are the Symptoms of Placenta Previa?
Other symptoms of Placenta Previa include:
- ● Cramps
- ● Sharp pain in the lower abdomen
- ● Bleeding from the vagina after intercourse
Severe uncontrollable bleeding from the vagina is a medical emergency. If you have any of the above symptoms, it is advisable to consult your doctor immediately.
How is Placenta Previa Diagnosed?
If you have vaginal bleeding and if your doctors suspect placenta previa, they will advise you for an ultrasound. A combination of an abdominal and transvaginal ultrasound scan can determine the placental position.
In the transvaginal scan, a probe placed in the vagina scans your uterus for the placenta previa. Your doctor will take precautions during the transvaginal scan to avoid disturbing the placenta and causing complications. If you have placenta previa, your doctor will prefer to avoid a transvaginal scan for routine examinations.
How is Placenta Previa Treated?
- ● Position of your placenta
- ● Type of placenta previa
- ● Progress of your pregnancy
- ● Baby’s growth and development
- ● The severity of your symptoms
Above all, the amount of bleeding dictates the treatment choice for Placenta Previa.
Minimal to no bleeding
If you have minimal to no bleeding from your vagina, your doctor will advise you on bed rest for managing your placenta previa.
You are only allowed to stand and move around for unavoidable circumstances. It is advisable to avoid all strenuous activities such as exercise and intercourse to allow your pelvis some rest.
If you have heavy vaginal bleeding, your doctor will advise a hospital stay to ensure complete bed rest. If the bleeding is excessive, you may require blood transfusions to compensate. You will need to take specific medications and supplements to prevent premature labour .
The goal of treatment in these cases is to ensure the childbirth occurs safely and at full term. You will undergo a cesarean surgery once the baby has grown and has developed its lungs. If the lungs are underdeveloped, doctors prescribe medications such as corticosteroids to the baby.
Uncontrollable bleeding with placenta previa is a medical emergency. It requires emergency cesarean surgery to stop blood loss.
What is the Results of Placenta Previa Treatment?
In partial Placenta Previa, the placenta only covers the uterine opening partly. Normal vaginal delivery can still be possible in such a case.
Complete Placenta Previa will require cesarean surgery to deliver the baby. Recovery occurs within a few months if the baby is born near full term.
What are the Risks Associated with Placenta Previa treatments?
- ● Infection of the uterine lining
- ● Reactions to anaesthesia
- ● Excessive bleeding and haemorrhage
- ● Blood clots
- ● Increased risk to future pregnancies
If the baby is preterm, your baby may have breathing troubles, risk of low birth weight, and injuries to the brain. Your baby will require medical attention and ICU stay.