Placenta previa is a condition when the placenta is in the lower part of the uterus where it covers part or all of the birth canal. In addition to covering the birth canal, placenta previa can cause heavy bleeding, both before and during labour.
The placenta is the organ that forms and attaches to the uterine wall when a woman is pregnant. This organ connects the mother to the baby through the umbilical cord which serves to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the baby. But as the gestational age progresses, the placenta can experience problems and risk disrupting the growth and development of the baby. One of the problems of the placenta that can occur during pregnancy is placenta previa. Find out the cause of placenta previa here by asking our specialists so mothers can prevent this condition from happening.
As pregnancy weeks increases, the placenta will also follow the growth and development of the baby. In early pregnancy, the placenta is usually still in a low position in the uterus. Then as the baby grows, the placenta will move up the uterus. Until finally in the third trimester of pregnancy, the placenta will widen upwards and away from the cervix. But in the case of placenta previa, the placenta remains in the lower part of the uterus or near the cervix, so the risk of covering part or all of the baby’s birth canal.
If the mother experiences placenta previa in early pregnancy, this condition may not be a problem. However, if the mother experiences placenta previa before delivery, this condition can cause problems, such as bleeding and other complications. Mothers with placenta previa will usually be advised to limit activity, increase rest periods, and give birth by Caesarean section.
The cause of placenta previa is not known with certainty, but there are several factors that are thought to make pregnant women more at risk of suffering from this condition, these are:
- 35 years of age or older.
- Smoking while pregnant or using cocaine.
- Having an abnormal uterine shape.
- History of placenta previa during previous pregnancies
- Fetal position is not normal, such as breech.
- Multiple gestations
- Had a history of miscarriage.
- History of surgery on the uterus, such as curettage, removal of myoma, or cesarean section.
The main symptom of placenta previa is bleeding from the vagina that occurs at the end of the second trimester or early in the third trimester of pregnancy. Bleeding can be a lot of little and will recur within a few days. The bleeding can also appear after having sex and is accompanied by contractions or stomach cramps.
Immediately consult a gynaecologist if spots occur or bleeding during pregnancy. Doctors can suspect that pregnant women experience placenta previa if bleeding occurs in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. But to be sure, the doctor will carry out the following examinations:
This procedure is done by inserting a special instrument into the vagina to see the condition of the vagina and uterus. This examination is the most accurate method to determine the location of the placenta.
This procedure is the same as transvaginal ultrasound, but the instrument is only attached to the abdominal wall, to see the condition in the uterus.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
This procedure is used to help doctors see clearly the position of the placenta.
Because it is not yet known exactly what causes placenta previa, there is no way to prevent this condition from happening. However, pregnant women who have these risk factors must remain vigilant of the risk of placenta previa. In addition, mothers are also advised to stop smoking during pregnancy, because smoking is thought to trigger the occurrence of placenta previa. Pregnant women are also advised to do a check-up regularly because placenta previa can be diagnosed through ultrasound. To diagnose placenta previa, the obstetrician will usually do a combination of abdominal ultrasound and transvaginal ultrasound. However, transvaginal ultrasound needs to be done carefully so as not to disturb the placenta or cause bleeding.