Pregnancy what is Placenta Praevia

Placenta praevia is a condition affecting the placenta during the pregnancy. The placenta is a round and flat organ which is formed during the pregnancy in order to supply oxygen to the baby from the mother. The placenta is formed soon after the conception and attaches itself on the inside wall of the uterus.

In normal pregnancies, the placenta is attached high up in the uterus, away from the cervix. However in some rare cases, the placenta is formed in the lower part of the uterus, and may or may not cover all or part of the cervix. In the condition where the placenta covers the cervix, it is known as placenta praevia.

Causes of placenta praevia:

Doctors are still not sure of what causes placenta praevia; however there are many risk factors that have been associated with the condition. Some of the risk factors can easily be controlled by the woman herself; while others are out of their control.

Risk factors that can be controlled include:

Avoiding smoking during pregnancy.  Stop using cocaine while being pregnant.

There are also some risk factors which cannot be controlled. These may include the following:

Positive history of any surgery or test that affects the lining of the uterus. Examples of these include uterine surgery, dilatation and curettage (D&C), or myomectomy, past delivery by cesarean section (C-section), having a history of more than 5 pregnancies, older than 35 years, and history of placenta praevia in the past.

Symptoms of placenta praevia

Some women do not experience any symptoms for placenta praevia. A woman may notice one or more of the following symptoms if she has placenta praevia.

Painless vaginal bleeding that occurs suddenly. Bleeding may be light or heavy, and the blood is most probably bright red in color. Symptoms resembling those of early labor, including regular contractions or having aches or pains in the abdomen or lower back.

Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should call the doctor or visit the nearest emergency room immediately:

Vaginal bleeding, which may be medium or severe, anytime during the first trimester. Vaginal bleeding of any amount in the second or the third trimesters.

Treatment of placenta praevia:

If a woman has placenta praevia, it is important that she avoids having sex as well as vaginal exams. This may prove to be lethal for the mother as well as the baby. In case there is bleeding, a woman is often required to stay in the hospital. The baby is delivered either when the baby has matured enough, or if there is excessive bleeding which risks the life of the mother or the baby. In placenta praevia, baby is always delivered through a caesarean section to prevent the excessive bleeding.