What is placenta previa?

Dr. Bachman discusses placenta previa. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is placenta previa?

Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta implants very low in the uterus and often covers, either partially or entirely, the cervix or the opening from the uterus to the outside.

Placenta previa can be a serious condition. It's important to let the patient know that they have a previa so that they're aware of things that they want to avoid. In particular, you put them on pelvic rest, limit the amount of physical activity. We don't want to put anybody on bedrest 'cause that can increase the risk for blood clot but just to be smart in terms of their activity and maybe modify the type of physical activities that they do to kind of decrease any stress in the cervical region or where that placenta is. The majority of placenta previas will resolve by the end of third trimester so it may make somebody a little anxious at the beginning to know that and when we're talking about restrictions, they get little uncomfortable thinking that there's a problem when in many cases, it turns out not to be a problem. But the biggest concern with this condition is the amount of bleeding that somebody could present with if that placenta starts to separate from the cervix.

   

Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta implants itself low in the uterus and either partially or completely covers the cervix, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA).

Placenta previa affects about 1 in every 200 pregnant women, according to the APA.

With the placenta covering all or part of the cervix, a vaginal delivery can cause severe bleeding, so almost all women with placenta previa need a C-section, according to the National Institutes of Health [Link to http://nih.gov/ in a new window with off site icon and 3rd party content disclaimer] (NIH). Talk to your doctor for more information about placenta previa.

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Katherine Bachman, MD, MS, FACOG

Premier Womens Center

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