Placenta Praevia: What You Should Know

There’s many reasons why bleeding can occur during pregnancy, and one of them is placenta praevia. While the outcome of this condition is usually low-risk, learning about the symptoms and treatment can help alleviate any worries should you develop it.

Pregnant Belly

Placenta praevia happens when the placenta implants partially or completely over the cervix, potentially blocking the birth canal. Bleeding can – although doesn’t always – occur, particularly in the final trimester and at the time of birth.

Low placentas are fairly typical – but around the 32 week scan most of them will have migrated away from the cervix; when they don’t, a caesarean section delivery is likely, because of the risk of severe placental bleeding as the cervix dilates during labour.

Dr Vicki Nott from the Melbourne City Obstetrics Gynaecology explains —

“The main risk is to the mum but of course if the mum suffers a big enough blood loss then she’ll stop providing blood to the baby as well.”

There is no preventative measure or cure for placenta praevia, so your GP or obstetrician will probably try to keep your iron levels balanced should you bleed.

Seeing blood when you’re pregnant will no doubt set off alarm bells, however, the prognosis for placenta praevia is good. Dr Nott says the majority of mums-to-be with the condition deliver without complication, and can still go on with their normal daily routine prior to the birth.

The risk of bleeding is also not high; if it does happen, though, it’s usually painless and bright red – and you should always contact your doctor immediately.

Of course, every case is different and women need to consult with their individual medical professionals, but a diagnosis of placenta praevia can be managed positively – just prepare for the possibly of a c-section in your birth plan, and the chance that you may need to leave work sooner in the event of an earlier delivery.