Placental Abruption – Signs, Symptoms, and Consequences


Placental abruption is one of the serious conditions that can occur during pregnancy. Under this health condition, the placenta detaches from the uterus, partially or completely, way before the baby is born. As a result of placental abruption the fetus can get deprived of assorted nutrients, including oxygen thus causing serious health concerns and dangerous consequences not only for the child but for the mother as well.

Symptoms of Placental Abruption

One of the most common symptoms of placental abruption is vaginal bleeding. This can either be a small amount or a sudden gush. Many a time, the blood keeps holding back behind the uterus. Such a condition can make the abruption completely unnoticed and is diagnosed only with complain of severe back pain or tenderness of uterine by the mother.

Generally, placental abruption is sudden and can risk the fetus as well as the mother in case of ignorance or if it goes unnoticed. It usually occurs during the last trimester, particularly in the final few weeks preceding delivery.

Some of the most common and obvious signs to indicate placental abruption are:

Signs indicating placental abruption
  • Back pain
  • Contractions in the uterine, consecutive and one following the other
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Firmness of the uterus or abdomen
  • Tenderness in the uterine
  • Pain in abdomen

Abdominal and back pain is generally sudden. On the other hand, vaginal bleeding can differ to great extent. Usually, women relate the extent of bleeding to the extent of placenta separation from the uterus. Well, it is not so. The extent of blood flow need not correspond to the extent of placenta separating from the uterus. Many a time, the blood gets trapped inside the uterus. Therefore, there might not be any visible bleeding even in case of most serious placental abruptions.

A placental abruption can also develop gradually. Such an abruption is known as chronic abruption and can cause light and sporadic bleeding. Also, it can lead to improper and slow growth of the fetus, contrasting what should be expected.

Also, in some cases, the bleeding doesn’t flow from the uterus. In such cases, the practitioner may require to examine the vagina and the cervix to check for any type of infections along with other causes for bleeding, like a laceration, a cervical polyp, or effacing or dilating of the cervix to cause the bleeding.

It is important to call your practitioner at the earliest if any of the aforesaid symptoms occur or in case of persistent pain.

Are you at the Risk of Placental Abruption?

Pregnant women

Even though, in many cases, the actual cause of placental abruption is not evident, you can be at the risk of placental abruption if:

  • You have gestational hypertension, chronic hypertension, or preeclampsia.
  • You suffer a blood clotting disorder
  • Have previous history an abruption in case of previous pregnancy. The risk gets even higher if you have suffered abruption in two pregnancies or even more.
  • In case of excessive amniotic fluid, the risk of abruption goes up.
  • You suffer fibroids or any other abnormality in the uterine.
  • Carrying multiples also increase the risk of abruption. Placental abruption is more common specifically if it is soon after the first delivery.
  • You are a mother to two or more babies or have conceived at an older age.
  • You are used to smoking tobacco or other harmful drugs, such as methamphetamines or cocaine. Indulging in excessive intake of alcohol can also put you at a risk of placental abruption.
  • You have had an accident or assaulted with blows to the abdomen or any traumatic condition that abdomen has gone through.

Possible consequences of Placental Abruption

If you are about to deliver your baby in a few days or weeks, and in case experience any sort of abruption, the practitioner may suggest an early or immediate delivery, even in case of the most minor abruption. The underlying fact is that the placenta can separate at any point in near future. However, if the fetus is not able to get sufficient oxygen or incase of heavy bleeding, the expecting mother may require undergoing a C-section.

Also, if you see little bleeding through the vagina, it might relate to a minor abruption. After a thorough checkup, if fetus and you are completely fine, you may be allowed to labor. However, an emergency c-section can be performed in case of any serious concern.

Be careful, stay healthy!

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