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What is placenta previa, and does it pose a risk to baby?

Placenta previa refers to a condition when the placenta is too close to the uterine wall and  partially or totally covers the cervix. The placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby during pregnancy and is attached to the umbilical cord. In addition to providing nutrients, it also removes waste products from the baby’s blood.

Symptoms of placenta previa

Symptoms of placenta previa include vaginal bleeding during the second half of the pregnancy. The amount of bleeding ranges from light to heavy and will be bright red in color. For women with placenta previa, labor and delivery can be a difficult process. While most physicians will require a planned cesarean section, there is still the risk of extremely heavy bleeding that can life-threatening.

For some woman with placental previa, they experience vaginal bleeding before going into labor and before they baby is full term. When this happens, it can result in an emergency cesarean section and a prematurely born baby.

If a woman has a severe case of placental previa and is experiencing heavy bleeding during pregnancy, doctors may choose to give the mother corticosteroids to speed up the baby’s lung development in anticipation of an early delivery.

Recognizing the threat of placenta previa to the developing fetus

When a mother has placental previa and it is not monitored correctly by physicians, and not treated properly, the consequences are severe and can include death to both mother and baby, or the delivery of a premature baby with breathing problems and low birth weight which can result in brain damage and cerebral palsy.

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