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High-Risk Pregnancy - Placenta Previa

Updated on 30 May 2022

What is Placenta Previa?

Placenta previa is the condition during pregnancy in which the placenta inside the woman's womb partially or completely blocks the cervix, which is where the uterus opens.

The placenta develops only during pregnancy and provides nutrition and oxygen to the growing foetus. Normally, the placenta starts forming from the top part of the uterus or either of the sides of the uterus's inner wall.

When the placenta forms at such a position in the uterus that causes some tissues of the placenta to block the cervix, this condition is known as placenta previa. Placenta previa can cause bleeding from the vagina during the course of pregnancy or before and after delivery.

Signs & Symptoms of Placenta Previa

Placenta previa can be identified when twenty weeks of pregnancy have passed if bright red vaginal bleeding is spotted. It may or may not be painful. The bleeding may be accompanied by pre-labour contractions inside the uterus which may cause pain.

Although the exact causes of placenta previa are unknown, if you happen to experience bleeding from the vagina during your third trimester, you should seek medical assistance to help diagnose, manage, and treat the bleeding to avoid any complications.

Who is at Risk of Getting Placenta Previa?

Placenta previa can be common in those women who had

  • Given birth previously
  • Delivered a baby via caesarean section previously
  • Scars due to surgery developed on their uterus
  • Placenta previa during the course of an earlier pregnancy

Women can also be affected by Placenta Previa if they are/were:

  • Pregnant after transplantation of fertilized egg via the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedure;
  • Pregnant with two or more foetus;
  • Older than 35 years of age.

Women who smoke or take drugs may also be affected by placenta previa during their term of pregnancy.

Complications Arising from Placenta Previa

If placenta previa is diagnosed, the patient may be monitored at the best hospital for pregnancy in Hyderabad for symptoms of any associated complications that may arise. These may include:

  • Bleeding: Life-threatening bleeding can occur in women with placenta previa and can cause haemorrhage in the course of pregnancy or during the time of labor and delivery. Haemorrhages can also occur for the first few hours right after giving birth.
  • Premature birth: Excessive bleeding may lead to an emergency caesarean section delivery before the completion of the gestational period.
  • Placenta Accreta Spectrum: It is a condition in which the women’s placenta develops through or some time into the uterus wall during the progress of the pregnancy. This condition may be accompanied by bleeding during the course of the delivery procedure or pregnancy.

Diagnosis of Placenta Previa

Diagnostic tests for detecting placenta previa include performing an ultrasound, it can be done during a routine check-up or during vaginal bleeding.

For a clearer picture of the actual problem, a transvaginal ultrasound may be performed by a trained gynaecologist.

Treatment for Placenta Previa

If placenta previa has been diagnosed, check-ups at a pregnancy hospital in Hyderabad are scheduled more frequently to keep track of any unusual alterations in the placental position.

Sometimes, women who have placenta previa at an early stage of their pregnancies, tend to have the condition resolved without the need for any interference. With the growth of the uterus, the gap in-between the placenta and uterus opening might also increase. 

If the placenta previa condition gets cured on its own, a normal vaginal delivery may be possible. However, if the problem persists, a delivery via C-section is a way out.

Treatment when Bleeding Occurs

Vaginal bleeding at 20 weeks of pregnancy may be treated as an emergency and the patient should be taken to the hospital. Here, Blood Transfusion may also be done to replace the blood lost via bleeding as well as some tests may be performed on both the mother and the unborn child to analyse their health.

If the patient is 36 weeks pregnant, a C-section delivery may have to be done. If the blood loss is extreme or there is a potential threat to the patient or neonate’s health, hence C-section operation is required here as an emergency prior to the completion of the full gestation period.

Treatment of the bleeding may depend on the intensity and duration of the bleeding as well as the duration of pregnancy at that point in time.

Treating Without Bleeding

If there is no actual bleeding but an ultrasound reveals the possibility of the development of complications, the main goal of treatment may be to reduce the risk of having possible bleeding episodes and get to the day of delivery as smooth as possible. 

If there are any episodes of such vaginal bleeding, the patient may be recommended to contact the Hospital as soon as possible and it will be treated as a medical emergency.

Planned Caesarean-Section Delivery

A caesarean section delivery may be planned at or after 36 weeks of pregnancy irrespective of an episode of vaginal bleeding due to placenta previa.

If the delivery has been planned at a time before 37 weeks of gestation, the health care providers may examine and offer medicines to help the baby to develop the lungs properly and in time for delivery.

Preventing Placenta Previa

There are no known ways to prevent placenta previa. However, in a few cases, the underlying risks that are causing placenta previa can be avoided, for example by avoiding smoking. Vaginal bleeding caused due to this medical condition can be easily reduced by taking the bed rest, stopping the sexual intercourse or reducing its frequency, and limiting strenuous work.

In the end, we would say that this condition can become a life-threatening one and should be taken seriously. Consult our doctors at CARE Hospitals if you experience any persisting symptoms and get the best consultation and treatment. CARE Hospitals is recognised as one of the top high risk pregnancy hospital in Hyderabad.

Dr. Muthineni Rajini

Sr. Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon, and Infertility Specialist
MBBS, DGO, DNB, FICOG, ICOG, Certified Course in Gynecological Endoscopy
CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills

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