Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is a complication of pregnancy. The placenta plants itself over or near the opening of the cervix. It can cover the opening either completely or partially, or be positioned too close to the opening.

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Symptoms

A pregnant woman may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sudden bleeding from the vagina. Bleeding is usually painless and happens late in pregnancy.
  • Bright red bleeding in large amounts may follow the initial bleeding episode.
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Diagnosis

Ultrasound is used to confirm placenta previa and to rule out other placenta problems.

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Treatments

Bed rest is recommended when bleeding is minor and the patient is in the early months of pregnancy. Sexual activity should be avoided since this may cause damage to the cervix.

Once bleeding stops, the patient may move about again.

When bleeding is heavy and can't be stopped, and the pregnancy term has reached 34 weeks, generally the doctor will start delivery of the baby.

In most cases of placenta previa, the baby is delivered by cesarean section. However, if the opening to the cervix is only slightly blocked and if the baby's head is pushing the placenta down, the doctor will deliver the baby vaginally.