What Is A Low Lying Placenta?

A low-lying placenta, also known as placenta previa (pronounced 'preev-e-ah'), is when your placenta covers all or part of the cervix during the pregnancy.

A low-lying placenta, also known as placenta previa (pronounced 'preev-e-ah'), is when your placenta covers all or part of the cervix during the pregnancy. Placenta previa affects 1 in every 200 births.
It is completely normal for a placenta to be low in early weeks and months of pregnancy, in fact, for every  9 out of 10 women, the placenta will move up towards the end of pregnancy.
There are 4 types of placenta previa, ranging from minor to more severe cases which may need intervention. These include:
  • Partial - where the placenta partially covers the opening of the cervix.
  • Low Lying - is when the placenta is positioned on the edge of the cervix.
  • Marginal - happens when the placenta grows at the bottom of the uterus. Usually, the placenta pushes at the cervix but does not cover it.
  • Complete - this is the most serious case of placenta previa and happens when the placenta covers the entire cervix blocking your baby's exit.
Symptoms of a low-lying placenta include cramps or sharp pains, bleeding that starts and stops over the course of a few days or even a week and bleeding after intercourse.
However, low-lying placentas are normally diagnosed during your routine anomaly scan which usually takes places during the second trimester around week 20 of pregnancy.
At this point, it is not usually a cause for concern as it can correct itself as you near the third trimester. Although, if you experience any vaginal bleeding your doctor may monitor the placenta using an ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound.
A low-lying placenta can be very serious in the third trimester as there is a risk of severe bleeding. Typically a caesarian section is recommended in more severe cases of placenta previa and to protect you and your baby, your baby may have to be delivered a little earlier than expected.
However, your healthcare provider will recommend the best way for you to deliver your baby based on your own individual circumstances.
Women who develop a low-lying placenta typically have no risk factors causing their placenta to lie unusually low in the uterus however the following women are more likely to have complications:
  • women who have had a low lying placenta previously
  • women expecting multiples
  • women who have had a miscarriage
  • women who had uterine surgery such as a D&C or fibroid removal
  • women who have several babies
  • women who have had a caesarian section before
  • older women
  • women who smoke
Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of kids aged 2, 3, 4 and 8. A self-confessed procrastinator and picker-upper of things, Kellie's loves include coffee, doughnuts, travel and sharing every day true to life moments on Instagram of her expanding family. Follow her on Instagram

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

Read more by Kellie
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