Low-Lying Placenta: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Risk

Low-lying placenta, which can be termed as a placenta previa depending on its more specific location, is one complication that can arise during pregnancy. If you’ve been told by your OB-GYN that you have a low-lying placenta, you have to be a little careful. What else should you know?

What is a low-lying placenta?

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A placenta that is found in the lower segment of the uterus but doesn’t block the cervix is known as a low-lying placenta.

The placenta plays an indispensable role in providing the fetus with all they need throughout pregnancy. Usually, the placenta is located at the “ceiling” of the balloon-shaped uterus, but sometimes it attaches itself to the lower segment of the uterus.

A low-lying placenta does not cover the internal os of the cervix and hence does not block the baby from passing through the cervix. A vaginal birth is still highly possible even though the placenta is located close to the cervix.

If the low-lying placenta moves and blocks the cervix, the placenta will be termed a placenta previa.

Causes and symptoms of low-lying placenta

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The causes of a low-lying placenta remain unknown. However, the following factors are thought to contribute to a placenta that placed low in the uterus: a previous miscarriage, an abortion, a cesarean section, or having many children, past surgeries on the uterus, smoking, advanced maternal age, or other factors causing scarring to or inflammation of the uterine lining. Unfortunately, a low-lying placenta cannot be prevented through lifestyle habits.

A low-lying placenta is usually determined by ultrasound imaging. Apart from bleeding, there are no other symptoms, for instance, pain, to indicate that something is amiss.

When is a low-lying placenta usually diagnosed?


Advocates like the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists support the practice of a routine 20-week antenatal screening ultrasound scan. The 20-week scan usually gives the first signs of placental localization in the lower regions of the uterus. In most cases, low-lying placentas correct their own positions naturally.

How to deal with a low-lying placenta

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If you’ve been told by your OB-GYN that you have a low-lying placenta, it must have come as a shock. Stay calm! First of all, unless you’re having contractions and experiencing heavy bleeding, you’re not in immediate danger. You might be hospitalized depending on how serious your condition is. Unlike a placenta previa, not all pregnancies with low-lying placentas end in C-sections. Vaginal birth is not entirely impossible.

Hope for the best

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The placenta might have been lying low until it was brought to your attention sometime during Week 20. Even if you have a low-lying placenta, you don’t have to be too worried – in some cases, some expecting moms go on to have vaginal births and only experience slight bleeding during the birth. Talk to your OB-GYN and together, keep an eye on your pregnancy as it progresses, and hope for the best.