Placenta Previa

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about placenta previa.

What are the symptoms of placenta previa?

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

What are the symptoms of placenta previa?

Symptoms of placenta previa are typically bleeding, usually in the second and third trimester. Most women won't know they have a previa. It's found incidentally when they have their second trimester ultrasound. Typically, women will have a routine anatomy scan around 18 to 20 weeks, average is about 20 weeks. Often time, the placenta previa's diagnosed at that time. They notice the placenta's implanting lower by the cervix or covering the cervix. But the good news, the majority of those will become, or move out-of-the-way by late in the third trimester. So just because it's diagnosed incidentally on the ultrasound doesn't mean it's going to be there at the time of delivery. But most women will present, in terms of symptoms, will present second or third trimester with bleeding. Usually it's painless bleeding but bleeding itself from a previa will cause contractions, and so some women may present with contraction pain and possibly signs of preterm labor when in fact, it's actually a previa.


The most common symptom of placenta previa is sudden bleeding from the vagina, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Bleeding typically starts near the end of the second trimester or beginning of the third trimester, according to the NIH.

Some women also have cramps with this condition.

Bleeding from placenta previa can be severe and can be life threatening to both the baby and the mother, according to the NIH. Though the bleeding can stop on its own, it can also start again days or weeks later.

For some women, labor starts within days of the bleeding. Other women don’t bleed until after labor starts, according to the NIH.

For more details about symptoms of placenta previa, talk with your doctor.

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Source: Katherine Bachman, MD, Upper Valley Womens Center