Mother and Baby

Pregnancy Health A-Z: Placenta Praevia

Pregnancy Health A-Z: Placenta Praevia

Placenta praevia is the medical term for a low-lying placenta. While fairly common in pregnancy, it could have an impact on your birth plan

What is it?

The placenta is essential for getting nutrients to your baby during pregnancy via the umbilical cord. Placenta previa is when the placenta is lying too low in your uterus so that it covers your cervix.

This is seen on ultrasound scans and is often described as a low-lying placenta.

‘In most cases, the placenta moves upwards as the pregnancy progresses. For some women, however, the placenta stays in the lower part of the womb in the last months of pregnancy,’ explains Shreelata Datta, an obstetrician at St Helier Hospital in Surrey.

What are the symptoms?

If you have placenta praevia in the latter half of your pregnancy this can cause vaginal bleeding. It’s as the placenta starts to come away from the inside of the womb wall that you’ll get the bleed.

‘It’s usually painless and may occur after having sex,’ says Shreelata.

What can you do?

Placenta praevia can occur early in pregnancy, and isn’t considered a problem at this stage, because the placenta might move as the pregnancy progresses.

At your 20-week scan, one of the things the sonographer will check is the location of your placenta. If placenta praevia is a concern, you’ll be informed and be given further scans to monitor it.

‘Bleeding from placenta praevia can be heavy, so if you experience any bleeding, keep an eye on how much you are bleeding on sanitary towels to be able to inform your doctor as much as possible what you have experienced,’ says Shreelata.

See your GP...

If you start to experience vaginal bleeding in your pregnancy or are suffering from chronic stomach pains.

‘You should always contact the hospital if you have any bleeding, contractions or pain,’ says Shreelata.

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