An organ that develops during pregnancy in the uterus to provide nutrients to the growing fetus is known as placenta. The primary function of the placenta is to transport oxygen and nutrients to the developing fetus. Another very important function of the placenta is to eliminate the waste products from the fetus’s blood. The placenta is attached to the wall of the uterus under normal conditions and the umbilical cord arises from it. Normally, the placenta should attach itself to the top side, front, or back of the uterus. Apart from this in some rare cases, the placenta might attach to the lower area of the uterus. This condition is known as placenta previa or low-lying placenta.
Factors that affect the health of the placenta are:
- Maternal Age- Pregnancy after the age of 40 often increases the risk of complications. Placental complications are also seen in cases of late pregnancies.
- Water break before labor- A fluid-filled membrane that acts as a cushion for the fetus is called an amniotic sac. At times this sac either leaks or breaks before labor begins which might increase the risk of certain problems with the placenta.
- High blood pressure- High blood pressure during pregnancy affects the placenta.
- Twin or multiple pregnancies- Women with more than one fetus during pregnancy are at an increased risk of certain placental problems.
- Blood clotting disorders- A pregnant lady with a condition that either compromises the blood’s ability to clot or accelerates its tendency of clotting is at a higher risk of certain problems with the placenta.
- Previous uterine surgery- Previous uterine surgery for instance surgery to remove fibroids increases the risk of placental problems.
- Previous placental problems- A woman who has had placental problems in her previous pregnancy is at a higher risk of having placental problems in her future pregnancy.
- Substance abuse- It has been seen that certain placental problems are more common in pregnant women who smoke or use cocaine during pregnancy than women who do not.
- Abdominal trauma- Any injury or accident that leads to trauma to your abdomen may result in premature separation of the placenta from the uterus. It is also known as placenta abruption.
Most common placental problems-
There are some possible placental problems during pregnancy namely placenta abruption, placenta previa, and placenta accreta. Post delivery, the placenta that is retained in the uterus is also a concern.
- Placental abruption- Placental abruption is a condition in which the placenta detaches itself from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery either partially or completely. Placental abruption leads to an interruption in the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus from the mother which results in early delivery. This is an emergency situation because it causes heavy bleeding in the mother. Early delivery is the most sought solution by doctors.
- Placenta previa- Placenta previa is a complication in which the placenta covers the cervix partially or completely. Placenta previa is a condition that occurs early in the pregnancy and might get resolved as the uterus grows in the second and third trimesters. Severe bleeding can be caused due to placenta previa during pregnancy or at the time of delivery. Though placenta previa can be managed it depends on a few factors such as the amount of bleeding, if the bleeding continues or ceases, the trimester of the pregnancy, the position of the placenta, and most importantly the health of the mother and the baby. In cases where placenta previa persists till the end of the third trimester, the gynecologist recommends a c-section for delivery.
- Placenta accreta- In most cases after childbirth the placenta detaches itself from the uterine wall and the doctors take out the placenta from the uterus. But in some cases part of the placenta remains firmly attached to the inner wall of the uterus, this condition is known as placenta accreta. Therefore, placenta accreta is a condition in which the blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply into the uterine wall resulting in severe bleeding during delivery. In placenta accreta doctors recommend c-section for delivery so that after childbirth doctors can scrap out the placenta completely from the uterus.
- Retained placenta- As the name suggests retained placenta is a condition in which the placenta is not delivered within 30 minutes after childbirth. The placenta could be retained due to multiple causes like being trapped behind a closed cervix or because it is still attached to the uterine wall. The retained placenta needs to be taken out immediately to avoid any further complications. Retained placenta when left untreated may cause severe infection or life-threatening blood loss.
In order to avoid any sort of complications arising from placental problems, one must look out for symptoms like vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, back pain, and uterine contractions. You should immediately report to your gynecologist. Looking for a maternity hospital in Calicut is the way to go if finding good quality treatments at an affordable rate in India.