How is low-lying placenta diagnosed?
At the 18-week mark, an ultrasound scan will look for the placenta placement and will reveal any issues.
If your placenta is significantly low, you'll be offered an extra ultrasound scan later in your pregnancy (usually at about 32 weeks) to check its position again. For 9 in every 10 women, the placenta will have moved into the upper part of the womb by this point.
Placenta praevia, where the cervix is completely covered at the end of pregnancy, affects about 1 in every 200 births.
Am I likely to have placenta praevia?
Risk factors are:
- Habit of smoking
- Have had fertility treatment to get pregnant, such as IVF
- Have had 1 or more caesarean sections
- Are 40 or older
- Are having more than 1 baby (twins or triplets)
- Have had surgery on the womb
- Are a cocaine user
- Have endometriosis.
What are the types of placenta praevia?
There are several types of placenta praevia:
Marginal placenta praevia: In this condition, the placenta is positioned at edge of your cervix. It’s touching your cervix, but not covering it. This type of placenta praevia is more likely to resolve on its own before your baby’s due date.
Partial placenta praevia: The placenta partially covers your cervix. In many women, this condition resolves on its own. As the uterus grows, the distance between the cervix and the placenta may increase.
Complete or total placenta praevia: The placenta is completely covering your cervix, blocking your vagina. This type of placenta praevia is less likely to correct itself.
Can I have a normal delivery if I have a low-lying placenta?
Placenta praevia towards the end of the pregnancy could cause vaginal bleeding which could put the mum and baby at risk. A case of severe bleeding could lead to haemorrhage and prompt an emergency C-section before term. If the placenta praevia resolves on its own, then a natural birth may be possible.
Is there anything I can do to prevent it?
Nothing can be done to prevent it or make it move. Eat healthy and don’t miss appointments. One thing that you can minimize is the amount of bleeding that occurs as a result of placenta praevia. Light bleeding can be managed by avoiding exercise, sex, use of vaginal douche and tampons. Depending on the severity of the bleeding, the doctor might prescribe strict bed rest and restrict basic physical activity like walking or standing for extended periods of time.
Coping with Placenta Praevia
Firstly, ask for a specific diagnosis. Is it a low-lying placenta, a partial placenta praevia, or a total placenta praevia?
Secondly, slow down. Don’t do brisk walks. And, definitely, no travel.
Thirdly, understand that your future doctor's visits will change her methods. She will not do vaginal exams. Instead, she will use ultrasounds to determine baby’s position and check heartbeats.
Fourthly, stay calm
Relaxation & Yoga Nidra:
- Try side shavasan with bolsters.
- During shavasan, do a 10-15 minute body scan with breath awareness.
- Listen to Yog Nidra during it.
- Try any holy chant/verse or hymn.
- It creates positive, calming vibrations, improves focus and concentration, eases out stress.
- Chanting will help to withdraw all your distracted senses.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Keep your body stable, shoulders relaxed, chest open and eyes gently closed.
- Play some calming music.
- Become aware of the breath. Notice if it is shallow or deep. Notice what part of the body is moving, the abdomen or the chest.
- Notice if there is any sound with the breath.
- Try to focus only on the breath. Try to become aware of the temperature of the breath.
- Even just looking at a tree, a leaf, a flower, a bird, noticing how perfect nature makes each and everything in this world. It can bring great peace and happiness.
You can also:
- Make sure you live close to your chosen hospital/make a decision to change to a hospital close by (within 20 mins ride time)
- Have your hospital bag ready even if you are not full-term.
- Call your doctor if you notice any vaginal bleeding or contractions.
- Prepare (mentally and practically) for having a c-section.