Low Lying Placenta: What Are Chances the Placenta Will Move Up?

After an an incident of bleeding, an ultrasound at 22 weeks diagnosed complete placenta previa. What are my chances that the placenta will still move up? The radiologist said a complete previa is not likely to move up.

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

This, I am afraid, is true -- but not impossible. If the previa is diagnosed by ultrasound before 20 weeks, research shows it persists about two percent of the time. Because you have had a "symptomatic placenta previa" (i.e., bleeding in the second trimester), you are at an increased risk of persistence, but no texts give exact statistics for this.

There is nothing that you can do to prevent this, but it would be a good idea to attend a cesarean-birth class in your hospital and find out about protocols for partners' presence, how you you can have the baby and if you can breastfeed right away.

Your diet should be especially high in iron to compensate for additional blood loss which may occur.

Most authorities agree that if you have bleeding from a previa, you should avoid any lifting, strenuous work, aerobic exercise and intercourse during the pregnancy.

They will follow you with ultrasound and, if the previa still exists at 30 to 35 weeks, you'll face a one in four risk of significant blood loss. If you have any further bleeding, some physicians will deliver the baby at 38 weeks or earlier .

I am sure this is not the kind of pregnancy you had in mind. There is a lot of grieving that takes place in such cases and you should allow yourself to go through the various stages. Getting all the information you can will prepare you for what may happen. You may ask your provider for local resources or support groups. If you have a newborn intensive care unit in your area, it may be a good resource for support groups for high-risk pregnancies. The March of Dimes is another good referral.

I hope this "all goes away" but even if does not, you have a good chance of having no further bleeding and a healthy baby.

Good luck.

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