One of my closest friends, who is pregnant for the first time, called me the other day in a panic to let me know she was experiencing spotting in her second trimester. Since her doctor’s office was closed, she made the good decision to go to her local emergency room and find out what was going on. The doctor did an ultrasound which revealed placenta previa, and ordered her to bed rest at least until the bleeding subsides. In this case relaxation on bed rest is the key, and perhaps one of the biggest challenges for women who are used to being on the move.
Though initially she was extremely concerned, she has an amazing doctor who talked her through the facts about placenta previa. What we know is that placenta previa is a condition in pregnancy where the placenta (the organ that supplies nutrition to the baby) lies low in uterus, sometimes covering part or all of the cervix. Placenta previa impacts approximately 1 in every 200 pregnant women and it is often, as it was in this case, diagnosed by ultrasound during the second trimester. The condition may be caused by an abnormally shaped uterus, previous pelvic surgery, scarring in the endometrium or a large placenta due to multiples (twins or more). Almost 90% of placenta previa cases will resolve themselves before delivery as the placenta often migrates upwards in the uterus between the second and third trimester.
If an ultrasound reveals that the placenta previa is persisting, you may be asked to remain on bed rest and avoid any strenuous activity. It is also important to avoid unnecessary pelvic exams and intercourse until your doctor says otherwise. In the case of ongoing bleeding or contractions you may be kept in the hospital and monitored in an attempt to prevent a preterm birth. Women who have placenta previa into the third trimester will have their babies delivered by c-section because the placenta is actually blocking the babies exit from the womb.