Normally, the placenta that protects and nurtures an unborn child forms at the top of the uterus, well away from the cervix. In about one out of every 200 pregnancies, however, something goes wrong and the placenta attaches itself partially or completely over the cervix — putting both the baby and the mother at risk. A C-section is the only safe method of delivery.
What causes this condition to happen?
There are a number of factors that can elevate your risk of developing placenta previa. These include:
- You’re a smoker.
- You use cocaine.
- This isn’t your first pregnancy.
- You’ve had prior uterine surgery, including dilation and curettage (D & C) or C-section.
- You’re pregnant with more than one child.
- You’ve had placenta previa in the past.
- You’re 35 years of age or older at the time of your pregnancy.
While placenta previa can also happen for unknown reasons, it’s important for your doctor to be conscious of these risk factors when assessing your condition.
Can you tell if you have placenta previa?
Most likely, no. Most women have no symptoms during the early part of their pregnancy. The condition is usually detected through an ultrasound.
During the latter part of your pregnancy, you may start to experience painless bleeding or bleeding with contractions. If that happens, it’s wisest to get checked out by a doctor right away.
What are the main risks of placenta previa?
Miscarriage is always a possibility, especially if the placenta tears away from the wall of the uterus early on. Even in late pregnancy, however, the condition can be serious. If the placenta abruptly detaches, the mother can bleed to death and the baby can suffer from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the brain.
In order to protect you and your baby against the dangers of placenta previa, your doctor should take appropriate cautions — including increased medical supervision and bed rest.
Did your doctor fail to provide you with adequate care during your pregnancy? If you or your baby suffered an injury due to medical neglect, it’s time to find out more about your legal options.