Understanding Placenta Previa

27 September 2015
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


Pregnancy is an exciting time for most women, but it can also be a time of stress and worry if there are any problems with your pregnancy. Placenta previa can potentially be a problem; this is a condition in which the placenta is located too close to the cervix. The symptoms can be scary, but your OB/GYN will provide the appropriate care for placenta previa and ensure that the best choices are made in order to deliver your child safely. 

Types of Placenta Previa

A placenta is a type of organ that develops in your body during pregnancy, and its main purpose is to provide nutrients and oxygen to your growing baby. The placenta attaches to your uterus, but when it attaches to an area close to your cervix it can be problematic. There are a few types of placenta previa:

  • Marginal Placenta Previa: the placenta is attached to the uterine wall adjacent to the cervix.
  • Partial Placenta Previa: the way the placenta attached causes it to partially cover the cervix.
  • Complete Placenta Previa: the position of the placenta completely blocks the opening of the cervix.

Placenta previa is not as much of a concern during early pregnancy, as the position of the placenta can shift as the uterus grows. But for a typical vaginal delivery the area around the cervix has to be clear so it can dilate and the baby can proceed down the birth canal. If you have placenta previa during your third trimester, you doctor will monitor you closely through ultrasounds to watch the position of the placenta, and you may need a c-section to safely deliver your baby if the placenta is blocking the cervix.

Symptoms of Placenta Previa

A common symptom of placenta previa is vaginal bleeding during pregnancy; the blood is typically bright red, but there is usually no pain or cramping associated with the bleeding. You should contact your OB/GYN when you experience bleeding, especially if you are in your second or third trimester. 

Complications of Placenta Previa

Mothers with placenta previa are typically closely monitored by their doctors, but complications can still arise. Placenta previa can result in a woman going into labor prematurely, and some women experience severe bleeding that can be life threatening when labor starts. Premature labor in a woman with placenta previa typically results in an emergency c-section to best protect the health of mother and baby. If you have partial or complete placenta previa in your third trimester, don't be afraid to contact your OBGYN if something doesn't feel right, you start bleeding vaginally, or you experience cramping.