Placenta previa occurs when during pregnancy when the baby’s placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix. Because the cervix is between the uterus and the vagina, placenta previa can cause severe bleeding and/or cramping before or during delivery.
The placenta is essential in providing oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby and also removes waste products from the baby’s blood. It attaches to the wall of the uterus, and a baby’s umbilical cord comes from it. In the “normal” healthy pregnancy, the placenta attaches at the top or side of the uterus. In cases of placenta previa, the placenta attaches to the lower area of the uterus.
Sometimes, the placenta partly or completely covers the cervix. This is called a previa.
There are different forms of placenta previa:
Marginal: Placenta is next to cervix but not covering the opening.
Partial: Placenta covers part of the opening in the cervix.
Complete: Placenta covers all of the cervical opening.
Placenta previa is fairly common, occurring in 1 out of every 200 pregnancies.
It is more common in women who have:
Several previous pregnancies
Pregnancies with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
Scarring on the lining of the uterus due to history of surgery, c-section, previous pregnancy, or abortion
Women past the age of 35
An abnormally shaped uterus
Though generally painless, bright red vaginal bleeding that occurs during the second half of pregnancy (weeks 21-40) is the main sign of placenta previa. The amount of bleeding may range from light to heavy, and usually stops without treatment. Some women may also have accompanying cramps or contractions. The bleeding may start again days or weeks later.
During a pregnancy, the placenta moves as the womb stretches and grows. It is very common for the placenta to be low in the womb in early pregnancy, but as a pregnancy progresses through the third trimester, the placenta should move to the top of the womb so as to open the cervix for delivery. This does not occur in the case of placenta previa.
Your health care provider should carefully consider the risk of bleeding against early delivery of your baby. After 36 weeks, delivery of the baby may be the best treatment.
Nearly all women with complete placenta previa need a c-section. This is because when the placenta covers all or part of the cervix, a vaginal delivery can cause severe bleeding. This can be deadly to both the mother and the baby.
In cases of marginal or partial previa, your healthcare provider may reccommend:
Reducing your activities
Pelvic rest, meaning no sex, tampons, or douching
Closely monitoring mother and baby
Essential oils and products which may assist in cases of Placenta Previa:
Though these supplements and essential oils may be helpful, they are no replacement for quality care and a healthy diet. Please seek the counsel of a qualified healthcare provider.