Placenta anterior or low: causes, symptoms, treatment

The low placenta or previa is an abnormality that occurs during pregnancy. It occurs when the placenta grows in the lower part of the uterus. In this way, it covers the cervix and obstructs it, either partially or totally.

Remember that the placenta is formed inside the uterus and fulfills the function of nourishing the baby, giving it oxygen and eliminating its waste. This is connected to the fetus through the umbilical cord. Under normal conditions, the location is on the top or side of the uterus.

Meanwhile, the low or previous form is placed at the bottom. This can lead to bleeding throughout the pregnancy.. It involves special care during pregnancy and, if it is not reversed, it is necessary to go to a cesarean section to give birth.

Types of placenta previa

The low or anterior placenta can be of four types:

  • Total Placenta previa: in this case the placenta completely covers the opening of the cervix. It is also called stop. It prevents the baby from leaving and any maneuver that is carried out is dangerous.
  • Partial placenta previa: It is one that only partially covers the opening of the cervix. In this case a vaginal delivery can be attempted, but if bleeding occurs an emergency cesarean section will be necessary.
  • Marginal placenta previa: It is close to the edge of the cervix, but does not cover or exceed it. It is possible to have a vaginal delivery as long as it is displaced at the time when the cervix dilation occurs.
  • Lateral placenta: known as low insertion placenta. It is configured when it is located less than 10 centimeters from the orifice of the cervix. This means that it is located at the bottom, but does not touch the entrance. It allows a normal vaginal delivery.

The low or anterior placenta does not always prevent a vaginal delivery, although the necessary precautions should be taken with the medical specialist, to determine the viability of the maneuvers.

Causes of Placenta Previa or Low

Science has not yet established the exact causes of Placenta Previa or Low Placenta. However, it is believed that it may be related to any of the following factors:

  • Uterine causes: when there are abnormalities in the uterus. Such problems can be previous cesarean sections, curettage, multiple deliveries and fibroids.
  • Placental causes: when there is an excessive increase in the size of the placenta. This, in turn, is due to factors such as the mother's smoking, drug use (cocaine) or multiple gestation.

Available data indicate that placenta previa occurs in 1 in 200 pregnancies. Older mothers are at higher risk of developing it.

Read also: What is the placenta? How does it work?

Symptoms and complications

The main symptom of placenta previa or placenta is bleeding during the second half of pregnancy. It is bright red and painless. There are some mothers who also have contractions at this stage.

Cases of placenta previa can be mistaken for a placental abruption. For this reason, it is very important to obtain an accurate diagnosis. If the structure is detached, the doctor will do a vaginal examination, which is contraindicated in the placenta previa.

Whenever you have bleeding during pregnancy, it is necessary to consult your doctor. If it is very profuse, it is indicated to seek emergency care, without delay or delay.

The main complication of placenta previa is that the bleeding is very voluminous. This can happen during or after labor. Heavy vaginal bleeding is life-threatening and is considered a medical emergency.

Another possible complication is that there is a premature delivery. If there is heavy bleeding, an emergency cesarean section may need to be done, even if the pregnancy is not full term.

Risks of a low or anterior placenta

Low or Placenta Previa can lead to poor fetal presentation. This is that the baby is placed in an inappropriate position for a natural delivery.

Another possibility is that there is an early rupture of the membranes, which is a risk factor for a condition called intraventricular hemorrhage in newborns. If it appears, it could affect the neurodevelopment of the fetus.

Another risk is fetal growth restriction, which leads to the baby having a delay in its weight gain, leading to being born smaller. Likewise, it increases complications from perinatal asphyxia, polycythemia, meconium aspiration, and hypoglycemia.

Finally, there is the possibility of vasa previa. This corresponds to an abnormal insertion of the umbilical cord into the placenta. If this happens there will be fetal hemorrhage.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis of placenta previa or placenta is made by ultrasound. Sometimes this is accomplished in a routine prenatal visit and sometimes after an episode of vaginal bleeding.

An abdominal ultrasound can be combined with a transvaginal one. The latter is done with a device similar to a rod that is inserted into the vagina. It must be practiced very carefully so as not to rupture the placenta or cause bleeding.

Ultrasound allows to detect the placentas previos, confirming their location within the uterus.

Treatment options

There is no medical treatment to cure the low or placenta previa. Most commonly, if this condition is diagnosed in the first weeks of pregnancy, it then resolves spontaneously. The growth of the uterus increases the distance between the cervix and the placenta.

The approach is aimed at controlling the bleeding caused. The goal is to help the mother get as close to her due date as possible.

The urgent measures to be taken depend on the volume of the bleeding:

  • Low quantity: the main recommendation is to rest, avoiding activities such as sex or physical exercise. The mother should be prepared to go to the hospital in case the bleeding intensifies.
  • Heavy bleeding: It demands urgent medical attention and is likely to involve planning a C-section. Ideally, this should not happen before week 36.
  • Bleeding that won't stop: will lead to an emergency cesarean section, even when the baby is premature.

Attention to the urgency of the low or previa placenta

A mother diagnosed with a low or anterior placenta may be very concerned, especially since the course of the condition is unpredictable. The best thing to do is to follow the doctor's recommendations to the letter.

It's important to stay calm, engage in comforting activities, and surround yourself with supportive people. It is also worthwhile to inform yourself thoroughly on the subject and prepare mentally and emotionally for a cesarean section.

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