How do you tell where your placenta is located without u/s? Is there a way to tell if it is previa?
Don't think you will know for sure until the last weeks of pregnancy. There can be some bleeding that will warn you in the last couple of months. Also, there is a higher chance of breech or transverse due to the placenta's placement- that can warn you too. But honestly, most women get u/s before a low-lying placenta could be confirmed as previa. A late term u/s would be necessary to determine for sure. But, it is rare. I think there should be no concern unless you have late term bleeding, breech/transverse, or just a gut feeling.
I believe that it is possible to go through a pregnancy with a complete or partial previa and NO bleeding. In all cases, as soon as your cervix begins to dilate, you will begin to bleed bright red blood, and this should be treated as an emergency situation with medical assistance in a hospital. However, previa is rare. Of the women who have previa diagnosed at a 20-week ultrasound, only 5% will still have previa at term. Is there a reason you are worried about previa?
I've been thinking about a u/s for this exact reason at some point near my "due date"........ just to relieve myself of any worries I may have. However, I am finding it nigh unto impossible to get an u/s without a doctor's orders and I have no desire to see an ob....ever, if it's avoidable. So I may just do without the u/s anyhow. I appreciate you asking this question, the discussion that has followed has been immensely helpful.
A couple of people have talked about previa and bleeding, and there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, not all previas will bleed early enough for that to be useful as a warning sign. Most will. Some won't bleed until labor.
Second, pregnancy is not always a blood-free time. In particular, many women have bloody show before labor starts, and many bleed during labor. Bleeding from previa is bright red, not mucus-y, and usually (although not always) painless. Because bleeding can be started by cervical dilation, you may have bleeding associated with contractions. In my experience (read my birth story if you want), a crisis involving placenta previa also involves a *lot* of blood. The most useful thing anyone said to me while I was pregnant was "if there's blood splashing around your ankles, call an ambulance."
Ultrasound does offer a lot of certainty about placental location, and IMO, that's a good reason to have one.