Things to know:
- Placental abruption is a rare pregnancy complication that may result in severe bleeding
- Placental abruption might affect the baby’s growth thereby causing preterm birth or stillbirth
- If there is any vaginal bleeding while being pregnant or if you experience any vaginal bleeding it is suggested to visit the hospital for examination to eliminate the risk of placental abruption
During pregnancy, the placenta is a transitory organ that forms in the uterus and delivers all essential nutrients to the fetus. It is placed on the upper part of the uterus and detaches normally through the uterine wall once you deliver the baby.
What is Placental Abruption
Placental abruption is a rare but critical and serious condition of pregnancy. In this, the placenta detaches way too early either partially or totally. There can be several reasons behind this, the baby might not be getting enough oxygen and nutrition required in the womb, therefore, causing your placenta to separate from the uterus.
Types of Placental Abruption
- Partial Abruption- When the placenta does not detach or release from the lining of the womb
- Revealed Abruption- Mild to severe vaginal bleeding that can be seen and needs immediate assistance
- Complete Abruption- Occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall completely
- Concealed Abruptions- Occurs when there is little to no appearance of vaginal bleeding but the blood seems to be trapped between the uterine wall and placenta lining
Symptoms of Placental Abruption
Placental abruption symptoms vary from person to person. The following are examples of known symptoms or signs:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Uterine contractions
- Uterine discomfort
- Constant belly or back pain
- Uterine tenderness
- Cramping with the first 3 months of pregnancy
Causes of placental abruption
Placental abruption is frequently caused by an unexplained etiology. Trauma or injury to the abdomen or a sudden loss of the fluid that surrounds and cushions the baby in the uterus can be a cause of placental abruption.
Placental abruption can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- A previous pregnancy ended in placental abruption
- Hypertension or high BP related disorders that may occur during pregnancy
- Membrane rupture early in pregnancy
- Development of infection inside the uterus
- Age factor (above 35- 40)
- Cocaine use during or before pregnancy
Diagnosis of Placental Abruption
If you or your healthcare expert feels something is not right and you sense that there is some unpredicted vaginal bleeding, the doctor will perform a physical examination to examine and assess the cause of bleeding and check for placental abruptions. Following are some of the possible sources/ tests to help in diagnosis.
- Blood tests
- Urine samples/tests
- Monitoring baby’s heartbeat
Treatment of Placental Abruption
Treatment of placental abruption will depend on the stage of placental abruption. If the placenta has already separated from the uterus, it is difficult for the expert to reconnect or repair it. Therefore, proper treatment will be recommended based on:
- The severity and the stage of abruption
- Amount of blood lost
- Duration of pregnancy covered when abruption took place
There are several other factors that are taken into consideration:-
1) If the baby is not fully developed:
Healthcare experts try their best by closely monitoring your pregnancy at least until you reach 34 weeks. And if your baby’s health and your health is normal and there is no bleeding then your doctor may suggest you to rest at home.
2) If the baby is fully developed or almost fully developed:
If the abruptions are mild and stable, a close monitoring may help to take the baby to fully term stage otherwise an emergency C-section might be the only option to save the mother and the baby.
Prevention of placental abruption
Though in most cases you cannot prevent placental abruption. But under constant monitoring and regular visits to the doctor may help to reduce the risk of abruption. Avoid smoking, reduce stress, manage blood pressure and always take care of yourself when stepping out.
Doctors may also suggest you to take prenatal vitamins like folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy as it helps in the development of the baby.
Because the aetiology of placental abruption is unknown, the baby’s survival is mostly determined by the severity of the abruption and the foetal age.
There is a sudden sense of contractions with discomfort and tenderness around the belly and uterus. In some cases, symptoms might even appear without any vaginal bleeding as it sometimes gets trapped in the placenta.
How long a baby can survive after the placenta has been abrupted will depend on the number of weeks the woman has been pregnant and the severity of the abruption.
Babies delivered after placental abruption might have developmental disorders in the baby post delivery later in life like cerebral palsy.