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What is placenta praevia

Placenta praevia (also known as placenta previa) is also referred to as low lying placenta, and occurs in 1 in 200 pregnancies. In detail, it's an obstetric complication where the placenta partially or totally covers the cervix. Once diagnosed, the mother-to-be is usually put on bed rest, depending of course on the severity of the situation.

What are the types?
It can be one of three types: Marginal, Partial or Complete. Marginal is where the placenta is towards the edge of the internal cervical opening. Partial is where the internal cervical opening is only partially covered. Complete is where the internal cervical opening is completely covered. Having the complete type which is the most severe can require the expecting mother to be on constant bed rest, or else there is an increased risk of premature delivery or abortion of the baby.

What does the placenta do?
The placenta is the organ that gives the baby all of the needed nutrients and oxygen that it needs as it's developing inside the womb. The placenta is also responsible for removing all waste produced by the fetus.

What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is bleeding, sometime after 20 weeks into the pregnancy. This bleeding occurs without any contractions. Any signs of bleeding should be reported to your doctor immediately.

What are the dangers?
Having placenta praevia will almost certainly require the mother to have a cesarean section if the condition exists toward the end of the gestation period. It can also possibly cause the baby to be delivered prematurely, before the term of a normal pregnancy. If a woman has this condition, vaginal examinations should be avoided because they could possibly trigger heavy bleeding.

How can it be detected?
This condition can be seen through the use of ultrasound technology, another method is where the doctor or health practitioner will feel the mother's belly to determine if the placenta is too low, this is always confirmed by an ultrasound.

Who is at increased risk of having it?
You are at risk to have placenta praevia if you have any of the following:

  • You're expecting multiples such as twins
  • You've had c-sections in previous pregnancies
  • You use drugs or even smoke cigarettes
  • You've had placenta praevia before in a past pregnancy
  • You've had uterine surgery in the past