Pregnancy: The Signs and Symptoms of Placenta Previa
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)
- a little pregnant: Placenta previa primer
Plenty of you have asked me, "Julie, what's placenta previa?" Okay, no one has asked. Perhaps you already know. Perhaps you just couldn't care less. Or perhaps you have recently discovered an exciting new research tool called the Internet, much as I