What is placenta abruption?

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The placenta is your baby’s source of nutrients and oxygen, so it needs to be in perfect working order.

The abruption of the placenta is when a normally positioned placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus. This would usually happen only after labour. The placenta may detach incompletely or completely.

The uterus will bleed from the site where the placenta was attached.

The symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding - in most cases it could range from a small to large amount of blood, but for certain cases blood could remain in the uterus, behind the placenta, and you may not see any blood. 
  • Sudden, continuous or crampy abdominal pain
  • Tenderness where the abdomen is pressed
  • Your baby is not moving as much anymore
  • Contractions or one continuous, never-ending contraction

Diagnosis and treatment:

The diagnosis is usually confirmed with an ultrasound scan. This is a serious condition and although occurring in differing degrees, may be life-threatening for the foetus.

The usual treatment is bed rest, unless the bleeding is life-threatening, the foetus is in distress or you're close to your due date.

If the bleeding continues, an early delivery may often be best for both the mother and baby. A vaginal delivery may be possible if the abruption is minor, but should only be done in a hospital where, should anything go wrong, an emergency Caesarean section can be performed.

Am I at risk?

The causes have not ultimately been determined, however women who have experienced or who may experience some of the following issues may be at higher risk of experiencing placenta abruption.

  • Women who have experienced uterine abnormalities or fibroids
  • Women who have experienced an abruption before. The risk is higher for women who have experienced a number of abruptions with their pregnancies.
  • Women who experience a premature water break
  • Excessive amounts of amniotic fluid
  • Older women - risk increases with age
  • Women who drink, smoke or make use of narcotics
  • Women who suffer abdominal trauma, such as a car accident or experience severe abdominal injury
  • Women carrying multiples
  • Women suffering from hypertension, gestational hypertension or preeclampsia
  • Women who suffer from a blood-disorder, or suffered bleeding earlier in the pregnancy

Have you experienced a placenta abruption? Share your experience by emailing chatback@parent24.com, we may publish your story.

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