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Placenta previa

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The placenta is a round, flat organ that is attached to the inside of the uterus during pregnancy. Food and oxygen pass from the placenta through the umbilical cord to the baby. A placenta that partially or totally covers the opening at the bottom of the uterus (cervix) is called placenta previa. As the uterus grows, the connection between the placenta and the uterus may break causing bleeding. Usually, there is only a small amount of bleeding the first time (herald bleed). Bleeding after that can be more serious.
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Content Preview

Placenta Previa


How often does placenta previa

occur?
Placenta previa occurs in about 1 out of
every 200 pregnancies. The risk of having
placenta previa in another pregnancy is
about 4-8%.

How is it diagnosed?
The first sign that you have placenta previa


may be painless bright red vaginal bleeding.

Placenta previa is diagnosed with
What is placenta previa?
ultrasound.

The placenta is a round, flat organ that is
How does it affect my pregnancy?
attached to the inside of the uterus during
pregnancy. Food and oxygen pass from the
Placenta previa can cause bleeding that can
placenta through the umbilical cord to the
be a danger to you and your baby. Forty
baby.
percent of women with placenta previa

deliver before their due date. Your chances
A placenta that partially or totally covers the
of delivering before your due date are
opening at the bottom of the uterus (cervix)
greater if you have had uterine surgery in the
is called placenta previa. As the uterus
past.
grows, the connection between the placenta

and the uterus may break causing bleeding.
In some cases of placenta previa, the
Usually, there is only a small amount of
placenta is attached too deeply. This is
bleeding the first time (herald bleed).
called placenta accreta. Placenta accreta
Bleeding after that can be more serious.
occurs more often in women who have had a

D&C, previous uterine surgery, or a
cesarean birth. A placenta that is attached
Why does it happen?
too deeply will not come apart from the
The reason that placenta previa occurs is not
uterus easily after delivery.
known. Placenta previa is seen more often

in some women. Women who smoke, have
There can be a lot of bleeding. Removing
had placenta previa in the past, cesarean
the uterus (hysterectomy) at the time of
birth or uterine surgery, are greater than 35
delivery may have to be done to prevent
years old, are pregnant with twins or more,
this. It is not unusual to need a blood
or have had multiple previous pregnancies
transfusion.
are more likely to have placenta previa.


Campus Box 7181, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7181 ? 919.843.7863 ? Fax 919.843.7866
Visit our website www.mombaby.org



What is the treatment for placenta
bleeding and your blood and the baby’s
previa?
blood mixes together, you make antibodies
Bed rest is important to help prevent
which damage the baby’s red blood cells.
bleeding. Tell your doctor or nurse if you
Rh immune globulin prevents this from
have any contractions or bleeding
happening.
immediately.


Medicine such as magnesium sulfate, or
Blood tests will be done to check for anemia
terbutaline (Brethine ®) may be given if you
(low blood count) and to find out your blood
go into preterm labor. Magnesium sulfate is
type. A blood transfusion may be needed if
a medicine that is given into a vein through
you have bleeding and your blood count is
an intravenous infusion (IV). When this
very low. It is possible to get a transfusion
medicine is first given, you may feel burning
of your own blood. If your hematocrit
in the spot where your IV is placed. Some
(blood count) is 34% or more while you are
patients feel drowsy, warm, nauseous, weak
pregnant, you may be able to give blood
or have a headache.
before delivery. This blood is kept in the

blood bank for you in case you need it. If
If you take terbutaline, you may notice that
this is a choice for you, giving 2 or 3 units of
your heart feels like it is beating faster and
blood is suggested. You can only give one
you may feel jittery. It can cause your blood
unit every couple of weeks. If you need a
sugar to increase, so, your doctor may want
blood transfusion and this is not a choice for
to watch your blood sugar level more
you, you will be given compatible blood
closely, if you are diabetic. Medicines given
from the blood bank. The baby’s father
to stop labor are usually only given for 2 or
cannot give blood for you because of the
3 days because they do not work as well
chance that it may not be compatible with
after that time. These medicines allow time
your blood.
for you to receive another medicine called

betamethasone. This medicine is given
An ultrasound will be done every few weeks
twice as a shot, 24 hours apart. It helps the
to check the baby’s growth and location of
baby’s lungs to develop and decrease the
the placenta. A placenta that only partially
chance of breathing or other problems after
covers the cervix may move away from the
birth. Betamethasone can increase your
cervix as the uterus grows.
blood sugar, so your doctor may want to

check your blood sugar level, if you are
If you have an Rh negative blood type
diabetic.
and there is a chance that your baby may

have an Rh positive blood type, you will be
given a medicine called Rhesus immune
globulin (RhoGam®). When there is

Campus Box 7181, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7181 ? 919.843.7863 ? Fax 919.843.7866
Visit our website www.mombaby.org



How will my baby be delivered?
Notes:
You will have a cesarean delivery. A vaginal

delivery may be possible if the placenta is

only partially covering the cervix.



What can I expect after my baby’s

birth?

If your baby is born near your due date, and

there have been no problems, your baby will

probably go to the nursery and go home with

you. If your baby is premature or sick after

birth, the staff from the Newborn Critical

©
2003, Center for Maternal & Infant Health
Care Center (NCCC) will be at your

delivery to care for your baby and continue

to care for your baby in the NCCC. If your
baby is born before your due date, the baby
may need special medical care in order to
breathe, eat and keep warm. Many
premature babies go home when they reach
about 36 weeks gestation. Some babies go
home before or after this time. If a baby has
been doing well and just needs to grow
bigger, the baby may be transferred to a
hospital closer to your home. The baby’s
doctors and nurses will keep you informed
of how your baby is doing and will work
closely with you so that your baby can go
home as soon as possible.

Questions?
If you have questions about placenta previa
or your care at the NC Women’s Hospital,
please feel free to ask your doctor or nurse
for more information.





Campus Box 7181, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7181 ? 919.843.7863 ? Fax 919.843.7866
Visit our website www.mombaby.org


Document Outline
  • Placenta Previa
  • What is placenta previa?
  • Why does it happen?
  • How often does placenta previa occur?
  • How will my baby be delivered?
  • ??

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