Is a Placental Defect Cause of My Miscarriage?

I had a miscarriage when I was about 8 weeks along. When I lost the baby it was still in it's sac. The doctor said the baby was perfectly fine but the placenta was hard and so the baby was unable to survive. I am now pregnant again and I am worried that this will happen again. What causes the placenta to be hard and is this more likely to happen again since it has already happened once? I am anxiously awaiting your reply.


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

Dear Koni,

I can understand your concern. About 1/3 of all pregnancies are lost. Because of your history of one miscarriage, statistically, you are at a slightly increased risk for another. But this would not be due necessarily to the same problem.

I think sometimes we as providers do a disservice to our clients by not telling them exactly what a problem is (if we know it). At 8 weeks, unless chromosomal studies are done (and even then, not all of the time), gross examination of the embryo cannot tell us if the baby is normal or abnormal. And this early in gestation, the placental tissue is so under-developed that it would be impossible to say if any defects in it would have caused a miscarriage.

I have never heard of a "hard" placenta unless he or she was referring to an abrupted placenta (one that has separated from the uterine wall). This is a normal finding in miscarriage. Sometimes, with uterine bleeding or premature separation of the placenta, blood is forced into the placenta (or into the uterine wall) which makes it hard. This is due to the separation and does not cause it. So this may have been a finding that occurred after the event not before.

Calcifications form in placental tissue also. But this is a later finding, generally after 30 weeks and increases toward term.

Next time you are seen, I would ask him to be more specific or get a copy of the pathology report and see just what they found.

I would not expect this to recur and I really hope this pregnancy is a happier one.

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