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The placenta is crucial to the survival of a growing fetus. Attached to the uterine wall, it supplies all the oxygen and the nourishment that is needed from the mother. It also works in the other direction, acting as the conduit to take waste product from the fetus blood and pass it on to the mother's blood, where the mother's kidneys then filter and dispose of it. After birth, the placenta is expelled as the afterbirth.
Occasionally there are things that go wrong with the placenta during pregnancy. Read about some of them below.
Placenta previa is a complication of pregnancy where the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb (uterus) and covers all or part of the cervix. The placenta is the organ that nourishes the developing fetus. If the positioning of the placenta blocks the baby's exit from the uterus, it could tear during labor and delivery causing bleeding.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), placenta previa occurs in one of every 200 women. Doctors aren't sure what causes the condition. The March of Dimes (MOD) lists several factors that may increase a woman's risk.
Placenta previa is diagnosed through an ultrasound. (Read about "Ultrasound Imaging") If the placenta is only covering a small portion of the cervix early in pregnancy, it may move away from there later in the pregnancy. According to MOD, if the bleeding is minor and a pregnancy is 34 weeks or less, a woman may need to go on bed rest or be admitted to the hospital for monitoring. If the bleeding is heavy and the pregnancy is 34 weeks or more the baby will most likely be delivered by cesarean section.
Placental abruption is the early separation of a normal placenta from the wall of the uterus. The placenta is an organ that grows in the uterus during pregnancy to provide nourishment and oxygen to the baby. Normally the placenta separates from the uterus after delivery and is expelled after the birth of the baby. (Read about "Childbirth") When placental abruption occurs, the placenta peels, tears or rips away from the uterine wall, either partially or completely, before delivery. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), placental abruption can deprive the baby of oxygen and cause severe bleeding in the mother. The cause of placental abruption is unknown. However, MOD lists some risk factors:
The main symptoms of placental abruption are bleeding and pain. An ultrasound (Read about "Ultrasound Imaging") is used to help diagnose the condition. According to MOD, the treatment of placental abruption depends on the severity of the abruption and the age of the fetus. If the baby is premature and the bleeding is not severe, delivery may be delayed until the baby matures. (Read about "Preterm Labor") But if the baby is in distress or if a woman is losing a lot of blood, the doctor may deliver the baby immediately by cesarean section.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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