Learn About Placenta Previa

What is the definition of Placenta Previa?

Placenta previa is a problem of pregnancy in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb (uterus) and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix.

The placenta grows during pregnancy and feeds the developing baby. The cervix is the opening to the birth canal.

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What are the alternative names for Placenta Previa?

Vaginal bleeding - placenta previa; Pregnancy - placenta previa

What are the causes of Placenta Previa?

During pregnancy, the placenta moves as the womb stretches and grows. It is very common for the placenta to be low in the womb in early pregnancy. But as the pregnancy continues, the placenta moves to the top of the womb. By the third trimester, the placenta should be near the top of the womb, so the cervix is open for delivery.

Sometimes, the placenta partly or completely covers the cervix. This is called a previa.

There are different forms of placenta previa:

  • Marginal: The placenta is next to the cervix but does not cover the opening.
  • Partial: The placenta covers part of the cervical opening.
  • Complete: The placenta covers all of the cervical opening.

Placenta previa occurs in 1 out of 200 pregnancies. It is more common in women who have:

  • An abnormally shaped uterus
  • Had many pregnancies in the past
  • Had multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets
  • Scarring on the lining of the uterus due to a history of surgery, C-section, or abortion
  • In vitro fertilization

Women who smoke, use cocaine, or have their children at an older age may also have an increased risk.

What are the symptoms of Placenta Previa?

The main symptom of placenta previa is sudden bleeding from the vagina. Some women also have cramps. The bleeding often starts near the end of the second trimester or beginning of the third trimester.

Bleeding may be severe and life threatening. It may stop on its own but can start again days or weeks later.

Labor sometimes starts within several days of the heavy bleeding. Sometimes, bleeding may not occur until after labor starts.

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What are the current treatments for Placenta Previa?

Your provider will carefully consider the risk of bleeding against early delivery of your baby. After 36 weeks, delivery of the baby may be the best treatment.

Nearly all women with placenta previa need a C-section. If the placenta covers all or part of the cervix, a vaginal delivery can cause severe bleeding. This can be deadly to both the mother and baby.

If the placenta is near or covering part of the cervix, your provider may recommend:

  • Reducing your activities
  • Bed rest
  • Pelvic rest, which means no sex, no tampons, and no douching

Nothing should be placed in the vagina.

You may need to stay in the hospital so your health care team can closely monitor you and your baby.

Other treatments you may receive:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Medicines to prevent early labor
  • Medicines to help pregnancy continue to at least 36 weeks
  • Shot of special medicine called Rhogam if your blood type is Rh-negative
  • Steroid shots to help the baby's lungs mature

An emergency C-section may be done if the bleeding is heavy and cannot be controlled.

Who are the top Placenta Previa Local Doctors?
Highly rated in
Obstetrics and Gynecology

St George Regional Hospital

Salt Lake Cty, UT 

Steven Clark is a Neonatologist and an Obstetrics and Gynecologist in Salt Lake Cty, Utah. Dr. Clark has been practicing medicine for over 43 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Placenta Previa. He is also highly rated in 4 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Placenta Previa, Hysterectomy, Preeclampsia, and Pulmonary Embolism. He is licensed to treat patients in Utah. Dr. Clark is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in
Obstetrics and Gynecology

Texas Children's Pavilion For Women

Houston, TX 

Karin Fox is an Obstetrics and Gynecologist and a Neonatologist in Houston, Texas. Dr. Fox has been practicing medicine for over 17 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Placenta Previa. She is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Placenta Previa, Hysterectomy, Premature Infant, and Autosomal Dominant Hypocalcemia. She is board certified in Obstetrics/gynecology and licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Fox is currently accepting new patients.

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Highly rated in

Jichi Medical University

Shimotsuke, JP 

Shigeki Matsubara is in Shimotsuke, Japan. Matsubara is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Placenta Previa. He is also highly rated in 20 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Placenta Previa, Hysterectomy, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and Neonatal Ovarian Cyst.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Placenta Previa?

The biggest risk is severe bleeding that can be life threatening to the mother and baby. If you have severe bleeding, your baby may need to be delivered early, before major organs, such as the lungs, have developed.

When should I contact a medical professional for Placenta Previa?

Call your provider if you have vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. Placenta previa can be dangerous to both you and your baby.

Cesarean section
Ultrasound in pregnancy
Anatomy of a normal placenta
Placenta previa
Ultrasound, normal fetus - arms and legs
Ultrasound, normal relaxed placenta
Ultrasound, color - normal umbilical cord
What are the latest Placenta Previa Clinical Trials?
Carbetocin Versus Misoprostol for Prevention of Postpartum Hemorrhage in Cases With Placenta Previa After C.S.
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Role of Prophylactic Tranexamic Acid in Reducing Blood Loss During Elective Caesarean Section for Placenta Praevia Major: A Randomized Controlled Study
What are the Latest Advances for Placenta Previa?
Study on the application of King's combined uterine suture for hemostasis during cesarean section.
Incidence, trends and risk factors for obstetric massive blood transfusion in China from 2012 to 2019: an observational study.
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Prevalence and the influencing factors for critical situation of 6 579 pregnant women with hypertensive disorders complicating pregnancy.
What are our references for Placenta Previa?

Francois KE, Foley MR. Antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 18.

Hull AD, Resnik R, Silver RM. Placenta previa and accreta, vasa previa, subchorionic hemorrhage, and abruptio placentae. In: Resnik R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 46.

Salhi BA, Nagrani S. Acute complications of pregnancy. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 178.