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The Mayo Clinic defines excessive bleeding before or during delivery as placenta previa. Who should be concerned about developing this condition? How common is it?
First, it is best to discuss what the placenta’s function is under normal circumstances. This is an organ that grows right after conception. Its purpose is to provide oxygen and nutrients to the unborn child. It’s also responsible for removing waste products from the baby’s blood. It connects to the mother (wall of the uterus) to the baby.
With placenta previa, however, this organ connects itself too low in the uterus, sometimes partially or totally covering the cervix. When the patient starts to dilate, causing the placenta to detach, severe bleeding can begin. The good news is that this condition is rare and is almost always detected beforehand. This is why regular, prenatal visits are very important – a sure way of early detection. But between scheduled visits, if you have any vaginal bleeding, especially within the second and third trimester of your pregnancy, it is best to contact your physician right away.
Placenta previa may be a concern if you:
• Have already delivered at least one baby
• Had a previous C-section
• Had placenta previa with a previous pregnancy
• Are age 35 or older
• Are Asian
• Are carrying twins, triplets or other multiples
• Have had a previous uterine surgery, such as myomectomy to remove uterine fibroids or dilation and curettage (D and C) to scrape the uterine lining
So after you’ve found out that you have this condition – then what? What kind of treatment can you expect? According to the Mayo Clinic, it depends on the factors involved such as the amount of vaginal bleeding, whether bleeding has stopped, your baby’s gestational age, your health and the position the placenta and baby is in. For instance, if you have marginal placenta previa (where the placenta is near the edge of the placenta) and little or no bleeding, your doctor may just recommend bed rest at home. Sex, exercise and vaginal exams will be off-limits. Sitting and standing will be allowed when needed.