Placenta Praevia


What is this?

This means that the placenta is attached in the lowest part of the uterus, often below the presenting part of the baby. There are different grades of placenta praevia, according to how close the placenta is to the cervix. This is diagnosed and measured on ultrasound scan. If any part of the placenta covers the cervix, the baby will need to be born by caesarean section.

I've heard the placenta can move?

The placenta is firmly attached to the wall of the uterus, so it cannot move. What happens, is that as the pregnancy advances, the uterine wall grows and expands, lifting the placenta upwards and outwards, and further away from the cervix. Sometimes this will move the placenta far enough to allow you to have a normal delivery. If any part of the placenta is attached directly over the cervix, that part cannot move, even when the uterus grows.
Is it dangerous?

It can be. While the placenta is securely attached, it works in the same way as if it was attached to another part of the uterus. However, as the pregnancy progresses, and the lower segment of the uterus begins to stretch, this can cause the placenta separate slightly and to bleed. The bleeding is usually bright red and painless. These bleeds may become more frequent after about 32 weeks. If part of the placenta is anchored over the cervix, the bleeding can be very heavy, especially if the cervix begins to dilate. This is dangerous for the mother and the baby.
What can I do about it?

Nothing, except take the advice of the midwives and doctors responsible for your care. Placenta praevia is a serious condition, so you and your baby will be very closely monitored throughout the pregnancy. You will be advised to phone the hospital immediately if you have any bleeding.

You might need to stay in hospital for several days at a time if you have recurrent bleeds. A decision may be made to deliver your baby early if the bleeds are becoming heavier and   more frequent. If the placenta is over the cervix, you will be booked in to have your baby delivered by caesarean section. You may be admitted to hospital for the last few weeks of your pregnancy, so that if you have a torrential bleed, you are in the safest place, and your baby can be delivered immediately.