On an episode of the Healthful Woman podcast, Dr. Simi Gupta explained what patients should know about placenta previa, a condition that was once more serious than it is now. For this reason, she urges patients not to Google their condition during pregnancy—instead, talk to your OB/GYN if you have concerns. Here are a few of the basics on placenta previa.
What is Placenta Previa?
According to Dr. Gupta, “placenta previa is where the placenta is close to or covering the uterine cervix.” This usually occurs by chance, but there are some risk factors that increase the likelihood that you may have a placenta previa. These include a prior surgery on the uterus (including a cesarean section) and twin or multiple pregnancies. These conditions can cause the placenta to develop lower or closer to the cervix or simply be larger than normal, resulting in placenta previa.
What are the Symptoms of Placenta Previa?
Dr. Gupta explains that placenta previa does not cause many symptoms for a majority of pregnancy. However, “the issue is that when a woman goes into labor, her cervix is going to dilate…if the placenta is covering that area or close to it, then it can start to bleed when a woman’s in labor or contracting.”
In the past, placenta previa was difficult to diagnose, meaning that a woman may not know she has the condition until she goes into labor and begins bleeding. Today, however, it can be diagnosed earlier in pregnancy, so serious complications from placenta previa are rare.
How is Placenta Previa Diagnosed?
Placenta previa is usually diagnosed through ultrasound in the second trimester, which routinely checks where the placenta is. If a routine transabdominal ultrasound shows signs of placenta previa, the patient would then have a transvaginal ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis.
Can Placenta Previa Be Treated?
Placenta previa typically requires either minimal treatment or, in some cases, no treatment at all. Dr. Gupta explains that after a diagnosis around 20 weeks, “we’ll usually just monitor it with ultrasound, and we’ll look periodically every month, or less frequently than that, to see if the placenta’s moving and what the location is.” The placenta typically moves away from the cervix through the course of the pregnancy, so placenta previa often resolves without intervention.
If the placenta does not move away from the cervix, a planned C-section is typically recommended to avoid complications and safely deliver the baby and placenta. This typically occurs at about 37 weeks.
Schedule an Appointment
To learn more about placenta previa or meet with an OB/GYN, schedule an appointment at Carnegie Imaging for Women in New York City. Call our office or contact us online.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!