The placenta is that connection between a mother and her baby, through which the baby within the uterus gets the essential nutrients and oxygen required for its growth. Mostly, it attaches to the top or side of the uterus. But if it settles lower down, it would end in pregnancy.

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Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa is a moderately uncommon pregnancy difficulty during which the placenta embeds low inside the uterus, covering a part, or the entire cervix.

There are three sorts of Previa:

  1. Complete Previa: The placenta covers the whole cervical opening.
  2. Partial Previa: When the placenta covers only a part of the mother’s cervical opening.
  3. Marginal Previa: If the placenta borders the cervix but does not cover it, it is marginal previa. In all these cases, the placenta physically blocks the opening to the vagina’s passage, which implies it could affect how the baby comes into the planet when it is time to deliver.

Signs and Symptoms

  1. Bright red vaginal bleeding without pain during the second trimester of pregnancy is the main sign of placenta previa. Some women even have contractions.
  2. In many ladies diagnosed with low lying placenta early in their pregnancies, it gets resolved. But since the uterus grows throughout pregnancy, it would increase the space between the placenta and cervix. The more the cervix is covered by the placenta and as the pregnancy due date nears, the more the chances of getting it resolved, decreases.
  3. If a mother has vaginal bleeding during her second or trimester, she should immediately call the doctor. If the bleeding is severe, it’s recommended to go for an emergency treatment.

Risk factors

The risk factors for developing gestation include:

  1. An unusual position of the baby – breech (buttocks first) or transverse (lying horizontally across the womb)
  2. The previous surgeries which involved the uterus – cesarean section, surgery to get rid of uterine fibroids, dilation and curettage (D&C)
  3. Mother is pregnant with twins or more
  4. Any prior case of miscarriage
  5. If the placenta is large
  6. The uterus has an abnormal shape
  7. If the mother has already given birth to a child
  8. Any previous case of low lying placenta
  9. If the mother is older than 35
  10. If the mother has a habit of smoking

Diagnosis

Low lying placenta is diagnosed through ultrasound, either during a usual prenatal checkup or after an episode of vaginal bleeding. Most cases of placenta previa are identified during the second-trimester ultrasound scanning. Doctors will monitor the placenta’s position using one in all these preferred methods:

  1. Transvaginal ultrasound: The doctor places a probe inside the vagina to produce an internal view of the vaginal canal and cervix. It is often the standard and most accurate method for identifying placenta previa.
  2. Transabdominal ultrasound: A healthcare technician applies gel on the mother’s abdomen and moves a handheld unit called a transducer round the stomach to look at the pelvic organs. The sound waves develop an image on a monitor screen.
  3. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This imaging scan will help locate the placenta’s position.

Treatment

There’s no determined method to prevent placenta previa. Once a mother has been diagnosed and has reached her final trimester, the doctor may recommend measures to confirm a secure pregnancy and delivery, especially if she experiences any bleeding. These might include:

  1. Pelvic rest – This implies abstaining from intercourse, avoiding the use of tampons or vaginal douches, and preceding pelvic examinations.
  2. Increased fetal monitoring – The doctor might want to keep a watch on the baby to ensure that the heartbeat remains strong and that the baby’s movements are consistent.
  3. Hospital care – Although studies have not shown bed rest has clear benefits for ladies with placenta previa, it is advisable for the mother to stay at a hospital until her delivery, particularly if she has had a bleeding incident in order to watch her and and her baby continuously. The mother also will want to stay a lookout for preterm labor, which is more common with maternity.

To Conclude

Placenta previa can lead to genuine complications and requires quick attention if there is vaginal bleeding. Patients who are identified to have placenta previa preceding vaginal bleeding ought to have numerous conversations with the OB/GYN in regards to coping with the condition. But since the mother will be on the vigilant lookout for symptoms and knows to seek immediate treatment if there is any sign of bleeding, both the mother and the baby will be safe. The most important thing to keep in mind is that most women with placenta previa safely deliver healthy babies.

To read more about placenta previa refer to the below links:
  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/placenta-previa/symptoms-causes/syc- 20352768#:~:text=Placenta%20previa%20(pluh%2DSEN%2D,pregnancy%20and%20during%20your%20delivery.
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000900.html
  3. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/262063-overview
To know more about pregnancy scans, please refer to the below links:
  1. Anomaly Scan – https://www.chennaiwomensclinic.com/anomaly-scans
  2. NT Scan – https://www.chennaiwomensclinic.com/nt-scans-and-prenatal-screening
  3. Growth Scan – https://www.chennaiwomensclinic.com/fetal-growth-scans

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