Of the many problems that can make an appearance during pregnancy, placental abruption is one of the most serious.
Also called abruption placentae, it happens when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus where it had implanted itself at some point before delivery.
Placental abruption is fairly uncommon, but it can deprive the baby in the womb from the oxygen and the nutrients he needs. Let’s take a closer look at the most common questions about it.
What causes placental abruption? Who’s at risk?
There are a few possible placental abruption causes, although sometimes the doctors can’t find a cause. If you identify with any of the following you may be at risk of suffering from it, although doctors can’t state them as the cause. It so happens that women who suffer placental abruption tend to suffer from one or several or the following:
High blood pressure: It is the most common cause, one of the reasons why it’s important to monitor the blood pressure during pregnancy. If your blood pressure is higher than 140/90, you could be at risk of suffering it.
- Having had placental abruption before.
- Having suffered from bleeding earlier in the pregnancy.
- Diabetes is also listed as one of the risk factors
- An accident: A trauma that affects the uterus could also result in it.
- Having a scar in the uterine wall where the placenta is attached, although this is a much less common cause/risk.
- Smoking or consuming other kind of substances, like cocaine: As if there weren’t risks enough associated with this pernicious habits, you can also add placental abruption.
Besides these, you should know that the risk of placental abruption also increases with age, so the older the mother is, the higher the risk. It is also more common among women who are pregnant with twins or multiples. Nonetheless, this serious condition is also uncommon.
What are the symptoms of placental abruption?
The most common signs of placental abruption are bleeding (which can go from light to moderate); a sharp painful pain in the uterus or the lower abdomen, as well as signs of early labour, such as contractions or pain in the lower back. Another of the symptoms can be noticing that your little one is not moving or is moving less than usual.
However, it is difficult to identify the placental abruption symptoms, since they are not exclusive from this condition. Typically, you will feel that “there is something wrong” – if you do, call the doctor right away and he will find what the problem is.
Are there different types of placental abruption?
Yes. During pregnancy, you could suffer partial placental abruption or total placental abruption. With partial placental abruption, the symptoms will be milder and there might be little bleeding. There could be foetal distress or not, depending on how partial it is.
Total placental abruption is more serious and complicated. The symptoms will make themselves heard, and you will have to go to the emergency room right away. It’s not just the baby being at risk, the mother is as well: her blood pressure may plummet and she could suffer a shock.
What’s going to happen to my baby?
That will depend on what stage of pregnancy you are. If the placenta detaches from the uterus, the baby will stop receiving most of the oxygen and nutrients he needs. If you’re not far from your due date, doctors will recommend having an emergency C-section, even if the abruption isn’t total. However, if your doctor determines the abruption is minor and that both mummy and baby seem to be ok, you will stay in the hospital to be monitored closely. It could also get worse, so you will need to look at your specific situation with your doctors and discuss what is the best option for you and your little one.
Future mothers who are at an earlier stage of their pregnancies may have to cope with worse news, unfortunately, since they could lose the baby. This is why you need to be especially careful in pregnancy so you don’t suffer any accidents: Placental abruption is uncommon, but it can be a consequence of a fall as well.
It is also very important to detect the symptoms on time, since placental abruption is one of the main causes of foetal death during the third trimester. If doctors don’t catch it on time, it could be too late for the baby, deprived of oxygen and nutrients.
What will the doctor do?
First of all, he or she will ask you lots of questions about the symptoms you’re experiencing, and he will also ask you if you can feel the baby move. He will also do a physical exam to detect irregularities in your uterus, and possibly an ultrasound or blood tests – However, it is not always possible to detect it in an ultrasound.
Is there a placental abruption treatment?
Yes, if the placental abruption is minor, your doctor will recommend close monitoring and perhaps some medication, as well as absolute rest, so your placenta doesn’t detach any more.
Now that you know everything about placental abruption, be aware of any odd symptom like pain and bleeding. Don’t panic, though: the condition isn’t all that common.