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Pregnancy: The Signs and Symptoms of Placenta Previa

Updated on May 16, 2013
The placenta is an organ unique to mammals that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall. The placenta supplies the fetus with oxygen and food, and allows fetal waste
The placenta is an organ unique to mammals that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall. The placenta supplies the fetus with oxygen and food, and allows fetal waste | Source

Definition of Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa? What the heck was that?? I had no idea what my ob doctor was trying to tell me I had. We had just come to his office after a frantic ride from home. One hour before this I had been casually lounging on the couch at home, feeling perfectly normal and fine. Now an hour later my doctor was telling me I had a rare pregnancy condition! A rare condition called placenta previa in which my growing babies placenta had attached itself low in my uterus.

I was totally taken aback as I had hoped that this pregnancy would be better than my last ( I had given birth to a 30 week preterm baby just a few months before) The first few months of this pregnancy had gone smoothly until one day I was lying on the couch and all of a sudden I was gushing blood!

Here is the Medical Definition of Placenta Previa:

"Placenta previa is an uncommon pregnancy complication that can cause excessive bleeding before or during delivery.

Soon after conception, the placenta begins to form. This oval, flat organ provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby's blood. It attaches to the wall of your uterus, and your baby's umbilical cord arises from it, forming a vital connection between you and your baby.

Placenta previa occurs when the placenta attaches to the lower part of your uterine wall, partially or totally covering your cervix. When the cervix starts to open in preparation for labor, the placenta is detached, which can trigger severe vaginal bleeding. Thankfully, placenta previa is nearly always detected before a woman or her baby is in significant danger."

(from the Mayo Clinic)

Symptoms of Placenta Previa

If you are reading my story because you have just found out that you have this rare condition called placenta previa, don't despair because you can stay healthy and have a healthy baby. My son is now 24 years old and perfectly healthy.

I started having symptoms of placenta previa when I was about 5 months pregnant - and unfortunately for me mine was severe. I did need to be hospitalized for the last 2 months of my pregnancy. This is not always the case though.

Following are the symptoms of placenta previa:

(If you have any of these symptoms you should call your doctor right away as they can be serious)

  • Painless, bright red vaginal bleeding in the second half of pregnancy is the main sign of placenta previa.


  • Light to heavy bleeding or spotting during the first trimester or early second trimester, and sometimes in the beginning of the third trimester


  • Bleeding may stop but reappear and there may be contractions with the bleeding.


One Womans Sage Advice

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that after that one episode everything went fine because it didn't. Subsequent bleeding led me to finally get hospitalized on total bed rest at close to 26 weeks of my pregnancy. I did have a healthy baby boy though 10 weeks later (he was born 4 weeks early by a C-section ) During that time I also had premature contractions and had to take medicine but it was worth keeping me as pregnant for as long as possible!

And most importantly of all:

Try to stay calm!!

Any sign of blood during pregnancy can be very scary - but please don't panic! I was more likely to have gotten killed from a car accident running red lights to get to my doctor than I was by the condition itself. In retrospect I was terrified - but my panic made everything worse and could have caused a terrible accident (which BTW if you are hemorrhaging severely DO NOT HESITATE to call an ambulance) They are way more equipped to help you than a distressed driver panicking and trying to get you to the emergency room!

Good luck with your pregnancy and feel free to shoot me any questions about Placenta Previa. I'm not a doctor but I have several months of first hand experience of living through this condition. 24 years later my son and I are living proof that you can get through this. Good luck and take care!

(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer and publisher who writes and blogs about everyday life)

Comments

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  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    You are very welcome 3) It IS very scary and I am so glad that your problem has resolved itself. That is just so awesome.

  • profile image

    3sACharm 

    6 years ago

    I am very thankful, I just pray for the best for others who still go thru it, it's very scary to be diagnosed with anything when you're pregnant. Anyway, I will try and remember to post a picture of my little girl when she arrives :-) and thank you again for your blog! It helps seeing stories of others going/or who have gone thru the same thing.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @3sACharm) That is wonderful! Prayer is so powerful. Thanks for letting me know and I would love to see a pic of the baby when he/she comes!

  • profile image

    3sACharm 

    6 years ago

    I was so thankful! After my ultra sound they said "There has been a resolution with the previa". After only 7 weeks and talking to a very surprised doctor, I no longer have complete previa, the placenta has moved and I am no longer a high risk pregnancy and all I can say is I'm thankful for all the prayer from friends, family and others.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @3sACharm) Thanks for checking back. Let me know how things are going and take good care of yourself!

  • profile image

    3sACharm 

    6 years ago

    I will be 16 weeks on Friday, I didn't get any more info at my last check up if there has been a change or not. The Dr said I have to wait till my 19th week ultra sound to find out. So now I'm impatiently waiting.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    6 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @3sACharm) I am so sorry you are going through this. I know how frightening placenta previa can be. Please let me know how you are doing and the main thing is to take extra special care of yourself - no lifting, keep stress levels down and try to have your family help you as much as possible. Very important.

  • profile image

    3sACharm 

    6 years ago

    So I'm pregnant with my third child and I woke up last week with heavy bleeding at 12 weeks. I have been diagnosed with previa and I'm praying that it all works out. Seeing all the information online has scared me even more but I like to see one like this with a happy ending that gives me hope.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Thanks Robin. My shoulder is MUCH better!)

  • Robin profile image

    Robin Edmondson 

    7 years ago from San Francisco

    Hi Dorsi. We did have a lot of fun, but it would have been better had you been there! We missed you! Hope going back to work is going well and that your shoulder is feeling better! Ouch!

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Hi Robin! I'm glad to hear that your placenta previa resolved itself. I've heard that happens in some cases.

    And I will miss you all tonight! I just went back to work this week after dislocating my shoulder 2 months ago. I didn't get off work till almost 7, darn it! Hope you guys had lots of fun!

  • Robin profile image

    Robin Edmondson 

    7 years ago from San Francisco

    I had placenta previa as well early on in my preganancy, but the placenta moved the further along I got in my pregnancy. Luckily, it had completley moved by the time I was full term. I hear that this is common. I'm glad that all went well with your babe and that he's healthy now in his 20s! Thanks for the informative Hub! P.S. I am looking forward to seeing you again on Thursday for HubCamp SF! :)

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Thanks for reading truthfornow- it was scary)

  • truthfornow profile image

    truthfornow 

    7 years ago from New Orleans, LA

    Wow. I did not know of such a condition. Sounds scary, and I am glad everything worked out.

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @ahostagesituation) Thanks for the comment and the warning about having sex when you have placenta previa. That's very good advice!! Nice to "see" you!

  • ahostagesituation profile image

    SJ 

    7 years ago

    Dorsi, congratulations on getting through your frightening and difficult pregnancy! Placenta Previa is one of the scariest conditions of pregnancy, and is a constant weighing of risk/benefit when deciding how long to keep the mother pregnant. Placenta previa can be partial or complete, which effects the severity of the condition. It's really important that a person STOPS having sex when they find out they are a previa patient...some people listen, some don't. It really is bad. And not a nun telling you masturbation leads to warts and crossed eyes bad, but actually life threatening. Great hub, and congrats!

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @amali) I am not a doctor but I think that you would have had some symptoms by now if you had placenta previa. Thanks for reading and congrats on your pregnancy!

  • profile image

    amali 

    7 years ago

    hi, thank you soo much for sharing. i am 33wks and have not yet had bleeding could this be a good sign

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @Ash) Yeah...me too!! Love you!!

  • Resilientmindz profile image

    Resilientmindz 

    7 years ago from Bay Area

    Glad you made it through mom. Love you!

  • Dorsi profile imageAUTHOR

    Dorsi Diaz 

    7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    @Genna) Glad your friend and baby got through it OK!

    @hello,hello) Yes it's scary when things go wrong when you are pregnant!!

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    7 years ago from London, UK

    It is amazing what all can happened whenyou are pregnant. Very interesting.

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    I am so happy to hear that you escaped any serious harm and that your son was born healthy. I have a friend who experienced this as well, and she and her newborn daughter were also very lucky. Thanks for sharing this.

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