What is Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta gets partially or fully attached to the walls of the uterus.  It comes close to or may even cover the cervix as well. Placenta previa is most common during the second and third trimester.  This is also a leading cause of vaginal bleeding.  About 0.5% of births are affected by this condition.   Most people relate Placenta previa with abnormal vascular endometrium.  These develop from previous cases of surgery, trauma or a vaginal infection.  During the last trimester of pregnancy, the uterus isthmus unfolds and then forming the lower segment.  In normal pregnancy, the placenta should not overlie it and thus meaning no bleeding.  If at all the placenta overlies the lower segment like the case is for Placenta previa, some part of the uterus may sheer off and thus lead to bleeding.

Placenta previa is a case where the placenta is implanted partially to cover the cervix. This is a rare condition and ideally may occur in one in 200 pregnancies.   There are three categories of previa.

  • Complete previa occurs where the cervix or the mouth of the uterus is covered completely.
  • Partial previa in which part f the cervix is actually covered by the placenta.
  • Marginal previa which extends to the edges of the cervix.


The diagnosis is made in the event of painless bleeding mainly in the final trimester.   If at all you are running blood, it may not be a good ideal to do a vaginal exam if at all there is no much suspicion of the condition being placenta previa. There are many other reasons that may lead to the diagnosis of Placenta previa.  Premature contractions and abnormal lie may be some causes of this condition. During the second trimester, the ultrasounds can be performed. In fact most of the cases of Placenta previa are diagnosed in this stage.

There is a condition that is known as true placenta.  This may lead to some complications. These include;

  • Increase in the incidences of congenital anomalies
  • Restriction and intrauterine growth may also occur. This is mainly due to poor perfusion of placenta
  • The baby may also experience some problems. This is characterized by acute and secondary blood loss.

Some of the risks that this condition may pose to the mother are;

  • C-section delivery
  • Hemorrhage
  • An increased risk of placenta accrete
  • And also hemorrhage that many a times may be life threatening.

The diagnosis of placenta previa would send one to bed rest. If at all the diagnosis is done at delivery and there is much bleeding. The c-section may be the best option.  Some marginal cases of Placenta previa can actually be delivered without any need for a c-section. All other types of previa would mean vaginal delivery.

The risk factors

 The following are some of the predisposing factors which may significantly increase the risk of Placenta previa;

  • Increased parity in terms of number of pregnancies
  • Maternal age advancement
  • A previous c-section may also contribute to the effects of Placenta previa

If at all you fall in this bracket, you need to be very careful. People who have exhibited some serious conditions of this kind have had such experiences.  

Placenta previa at times may be very scary. In most cases, one would experience some pains in the lower abdomen.  The condition is a shocker to many. Usually the period that comes in between diagnosis and delivery are usually characterized by lots of worries and fear as well.   This is definitely a condition that not any one woman would want to be associated with.  In places where this condition is common, there is support groups set up to encourage the bed resting mothers.  These are ideally intended to help the mothers to go through that state without feeling discriminated but rather supported and encouraged.