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?
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
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
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
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.