placenta is an organ that provides nutrients to your baby while you’re
pregnant. Its typical location is in the upper part of the uterus, and it
normally detaches from the uterine wall after you deliver your baby. However,
in the case of placental abruption, the placenta detaches too early. This can
cause complications, because your baby may not get enough oxygen or nutrients.
You can also experience bleeding that’s harmful to you and your baby.
to the March of Dimes, an estimated 1 in 100 women experience placental abruption. It’s
important to be able to recognize the symptoms of placental abruption, so that
you can seek treatment quickly.
What Are the Symptoms of Placental
The main symptom of
placental abruption is vaginal bleeding. However, sometimes blood can become
trapped behind the placenta, and you won’t experience vaginal bleeding. Other
symptoms that can occur with placental abruption include:
- stomach or
symptoms will get worse over time. Call your doctor immediately if you
experience any of these symptoms. This is especially true if you experience
vaginal bleeding in your third trimester.
What Are the Risk Factors and Causes for
The following risk
factors can increase the likelihood you may experience placental abruption:
- being older
- being pregnant
with multiple babies
- experiencing a
traumatic injury, such as a car accident, fall, or physical abuse
- having a
history of high blood pressure or previous abruptions
pregnancy complications, such as a uterine infection, umbilical cord problems,
or high amounts of amniotic fluid
- using illegal
drugs, such as cocaine
According to the March of Dimes, a woman who’s had a previous abruption has a 10
percent chance of having another one in a future pregnancy.
doctors don’t know an exact cause of placental abruption. Having one or more of
these risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll experience a placental abruption.
How Is Placental Abruption Diagnosed?
A doctor diagnoses
placental abruption by conducting a physical exam, and often by performing an
ultrasound. You doctor may also conduct blood tests and fetal monitoring.
Your doctor may
suspect placental abruption, but they can only truly diagnose it after you’ve
given birth. They will try to collect as much information as possible to make
the best decision for you and your baby.
What Are the Treatments for Placental
The treatment for
placental abruption will depend upon how severe the abruption is. A doctor may
determine a placental abruption is mild, moderate, or severe. Mild placental
abruption is when blood loss has occurred, but the bleeding has slowed and you
and your baby are stable.
Treatments will also
depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy. If you have lost a
significant amount of blood, you may need a blood transfusion.
abruption at 24 to 34 weeks: If you and your baby are doing well, your doctor
may give you medications to try and speed up your baby’s lung development and
allow them to keep developing. If your bleeding seems to have stopped or
slowed, your doctor may send you home. Otherwise, you may need to remain in the
hospital for close monitoring.
abruption at 34 weeks or greater: If you are near full-term, your doctor may
induce labor or perform a cesarean delivery. If your baby has had time to
develop, an earlier delivery can reduce the risks for further complications.
Moderate to severe
placental abruption: This is defined when your blood loss is significant and
you or your baby is having complications. This degree of placental abruption
usually means you should deliver as quickly as possible, often by cesarean.
In rare instances,
if your doctor cannot stop your bleeding, you may need a hysterectomy. This is
the surgical removal of the uterus. Again, this is in rare instances of severe
How Can You Prevent Placental Abruption?
Looking out for your
health and safety can help prevent placental abruption. This includes always
wearing your seatbelt, refraining from smoking, and keeping your blood pressure
at a healthy level. However, you can’t always prevent placental abruption from
What Is the Outlook for Placental
Babies born to
mothers who experience placental abruption are at higher risk for some
pregnancy-related complications. These include:
- difficulty growing
at a normal rate
- premature birth,
or birth that occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy
placental abruption occurs after 37 weeks of pregnancy, a baby is less likely
to experience health problems than babies born at earlier gestation.
very important to seek treatment as quickly as possible for potential placental
abruption. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 15 percent of severe placental abruption cases
end in fetal death.
Placental abruption is a pregnancy complication that
doesn’t have a known cause. However, if you are at a higher risk of placental abruption,
you can work to reduce your risk. If you are in your third trimester and
experience vaginal bleeding, call your doctor immediately.