While we all hope for a problem-free pregnancy, there are some complications that can arise. Placental abruption occurs in 1 in every 100 pregnancies and ranges from mild to severe. Your placenta develops in your uterus during the first few weeks of your pregnancy and attaches to the top half of the uterus. The placenta is a blood and nutrient rich mass that helps nourish your baby as your baby grows. It is a vital part of your pregnancy; and according to the March of Dimes, placental abruption is the cause of 1 in 10 premature births (babies born prior to 37 weeks gestation). Here is some information to help you understand what placental abruption is, as well as the symptoms, cause, diagnosis, and treatment involved.
What Is A Placenta Abruption?
A placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. The separation can range from minor to severe depending on the degree of the separation and the symptoms experienced by the mother. When the placenta separates from the uterine wall, the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to your baby is compromised.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Placental Abruption?
There are a few signs you should look for with a placental abruption. Typically, the separation of the placenta does not occur before 20 weeks and is most common in women in their third trimester. Vaginal bleeding, rapid and consistent contractions, back or belly pain, and uterine tenderness are all signs of a placental abruption. It is important to note that you may experience all or one of these symptoms if a placental abruption is present. In addition, bleeding will not be noticeable in about 20 percent of placental abruption cases due to the placenta blocking the blood from entering the vaginal cavity. You should make an immediate call to your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms.
What Is The Cause Of Placental Abruptions?
While there is no sure cause for a placental abruption, there are a few factors that may increase your chances of developing an abruption. Advanced maternal age, trauma to the belly or abdomen areas, such as a fall or car accident, a sudden loss of amniotic fluid before labor, maternal drug or alcohol use, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and prior placental abruption are all common causes of an abruption.
How Is A Placental Abruption Diagnosed?
Your doctor may run you through a battery of tests to diagnose a placental abruption. An ultrasound is typically performed to determine if an abruption has occurred and the severity of the abruption; it is important to note that an ultrasound is not a full-proof diagnostic tool and some abruptions can be missed. Your provider may also do a physical exam and blood tests to look for an abruption.
What Is The Treatment?
Once an abruption is diagnosed, your health care provider will set forth a treatment plan. Depending on the severity of the abruption, you may need IV fluids and blood transfusions to minimize the risk to both yourself and your unborn baby. You will also likely be closely monitored and possibly put on bed rest. If your abruption is severe, labor may be started after a round of corticosteroids are given to speed up your baby’s lung and organ development. Depending on the location and severity of the abruption, you may also be given a Cesarean Section to minimize the risk to both you and your baby.
While a placental abruption may be a scary diagnosis, most women can deliver a healthy baby under proper supervision and treatment.