Published: Thu, September 28, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Low-Lying Placenta (Placenta Previa)

Low-Lying Placenta (Placenta Previa)

What is placenta previa?

Placenta previa, or low-lying placenta, occurs when the placenta covers part or all Of the cervix during the last months of pregnancy. This condition can cause severe bleeding before or during labor.

The placenta develops in a woman's uterus during pregnancy. This sac-like organ provides the developing baby with food and oxygen. It also removes waste products from the baby's blood. The placenta is also referred to as the afterbirth because it exits the body after the baby is born.

During pregnancy, the placenta moves to the uterus stretches and grows. It is normal for the placenta to be low in the uterus in early pregnancy. As the pregnancy continues and the uterus stretches, the placenta typically moves to the top of the uterus. By the third trimester, the placenta should be near the top of the womb. This position allows the cervix, or the entrance to the womb at the bottom of the uterus, to clear path for delivery.

If the placenta attaches instead to the lower part of the uterus, it can cover part of the cervix. When the placenta covers part of the cervix during the last months of pregnancy, the condition is known placenta previa, or low-lying placenta. Most women with this condition will require bed rest.

Symptoms associated with placenta previa

The main symptom is sudden light to heavy bleeding from the vagina, but Cramps or sharp pains

bleeding that starts, stops, and starts again days or weeks later
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  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Bleeding during the second half of pregnancy

Risk factors for developing placenta previa

Usually, the first signs of placenta previa will show up during the routine 20-week ultrasound scan. The placenta usually corrects itself.

The placenta usually corrects itself. The placenta usually corrects itself. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, only 10 percent of cases will go to develop into full placenta previa.

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Transvaginal ultrasound: Your doctor will test the position of the placenta using one of these preferred methods:

Places a probe inside the vagina to provide an inside view of your vaginal canal and cervix. Placenta previa is the preferred and most accurate method for placenta previa.

Transabdominal ultrasound: A healthcare technician places a gel on your abdomen and moves a handheld unit called transducer around your abdomen to view the pelvic organs. The sound waves make a picture on a TV-like screen. MRI: This imaging scan will help determine the placenta's location.

Types of placenta previa

There are four types of placenta previa, ranging from minor to major. Each will have its own effect on whether a mother can have a normal delivery or whether she will need a cesarean delivery. Treatment for placenta previa will also be based on which type you have.


The placenta only partially covers the opening of the cervix. Vaginal birth is still possible.


This type begins in early to mid pregnancy. The placenta is positioned at the edge of the cervix, and there is a good chance of having a vaginal delivery.


This is the most serious type. In major placenta previa, the placenta will eventually cover the entire cervix. C-sections are usually recommended, and in severe cases, the baby may have been delivered prematurely.

With all types, heavy or uncontrollable bleeding may necessitate an emergency cesarean delivery to protect you and your baby. Treatment of placenta previa

Doctors will decide how to treat placenta previa based on:

  • the amount of Bleeding
  • the month of your pregnancy
  • the baby's health
  • the position of the placenta and the baby
Amount of bleeding is a doctor's main consideration when deciding how to treat the condition.

Minimal to no bleeding

For cases of placenta previa with minimal or no bleeding, your doctor will likely suggest bed rest. This means resting in bed as much as possible, and only standing and sitting when absolutely necessary. You'll also be asked to avoid sex and likely exercise as well. If bleeding occurs during this time, you should seek medical care as soon as possible.

Heavy bleeding

Cases of heavy bleeding may require hospital bed rest. Depending on the amount of blood lost, you may need blood transfusions. You may also need to take medicine to prevent premature labor.

In the case of heavy bleeding, your doctor will advise C-section be scheduled as soon as it is safe to deliver - preferably after 36 weeks. If the C-section needs to be scheduled sooner, your baby may be given corticosteroid injections to speed up your lung growth.

Uncontrollable bleeding

In the case of uncontrolled bleeding, An emergency cesarean delivery will have to be performed.

Complications of placenta previa

A placenta previa diagnosis can be alarming for expectant mothers. The Mayo Clinic provides some ideas for how to cope with your condition and how to prepare yourself for delivery.

Get educated: The more you know, the more you will know what to Expect Get in contact with other women who have been through placenta previa births.

Be prepared for your cesarean delivery: Depending on the type of your placenta previa, you might not be able to have a vaginal birth. It's good to remember the ultimate goal - the health of you and your baby.

Enjoy bed rest: If you are active, bed rest can feel confining.

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Pamper yourself: Indulge in small pleasures, such as:

  • Pajamas
  • reading a good book
  • watching your favorite TV program
  • keeping a gratitude journal

Be sure to rely On your circle of friends and family for conversation and support.

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