A placenta is an organ that attaches to the wall of the uterus (womb) and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Its typical location is in the upper part of the uterus, and it normally detaches from the uterine wall after you deliver your baby. If the placenta detaches too early, either partially or completely it’s known as placental abruption. Placental abruption can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients and cause heavy bleeding in the mother.
Placental abruption is mostly seen during third semester pf pregnancy. Placental abruption is related to about 1 in 10 premature births (10 percent), and most can be successfully treated depending on what type of separation occurs.
Vaginal bleeding is one of the most common symptoms of placental abruption. Other symptoms that can occur with placental abruption include:
- Uterine tenderness
- Rapid contractions
- Abdominal pain
- Fetal heart rate abnormalities
Immediately call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Your doctor may suspect placental abruption, but they can only truly diagnose it after you’ve given birth. The most common methods used for diagnosing placental abruption are Ultrasound, Blood tests, Fetal Monitoring and Evaluation of the patient’s symptoms. Higher risk of placental abruption may occur if you:
- Cocaine use during pregnancy
- Are over the age of 35
- Have preeclampsia or hypertension
- Are pregnant with twins or triplets
- Have problems with the uterus or the umbilical cord.
- Experiencing trauma to the abdomen
- Have abnormalities in the uterus
- Belly is harmed from a car accident or physical abuse.
In order to protect the health of mother and child, regular checkups need to be done if any of placental abruption signs are alleged. This monitoring is usually done in hospital and should include regular checks of the vital signs of both mother and baby. Treatment depends on how serious the abruption is and how far along you are in your pregnancy. A doctor may determine a placental abruption is mild, moderate, or severe.
- Mild cases, earlier in pregnancy – In this case if the baby isn’t distressed and if the vaginal bleeding stops, you may be allowed to go home and rest. Regular checkups need to be done.
- Moderate cases, earlier in pregnancy –until the baby is old enough for the doctor to safely induce labour you may need to stay in hospital.
- Mild to moderate cases– at 36 weeks’ gestation or more, the doctor may recommend delivery. A vaginal birth may be possible. During labour if placenta moves apart from uterine wall, immediate delivery via caesarean section is preferred.
- Severe cases – immediate delivery is the safest treatment. The mother may require supportive care. Heavy maternal bleeding may be treated with a blood transfusion or emergency hysterectomy or both.
You may be able to reduce risk by getting treatment for high blood pressure, not smoking or using street drugs, and always wearing a seatbelt when riding in a car.