Low Lying Placenta - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 09-03-2014, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Low Lying Placenta

Wondering if any of you have any experience with this. I opted for the diagnostic ultrasound at around 22 weeks. During this US I was told my placenta was anterior and low lying (they did not give me a measurement). I know that the uterus grows and these "low lying" placentas typically resolve themselves. However, since we are planning to UC, I'm wondering if anyone is familiar with the typical complications this might present if it is still low - anything I should be on the lookout for.

I am still receiving regular prenatal care as we are going to go the "oops, we didn't make it in time" route. Would you opt for another US to check placenta at this point? My initial feeling is not to, as I don't want to continue to expose baby to the US. Just wondering everyone else's thoughts on this.
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#2 of 4 Old 09-03-2014, 06:20 PM
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My understanding is that the majority of these resolve on their own, but when they don't it becomes a more serious complication. There's some risk of painless bleeding before labor that can be dangerous to the mother, so you should definitely have any bleeding looked at. You'd also have a higher risk of a life-threatening hemorrhage during or after giving birth. And if you the placenta is very low, there's no way to safely give birth vaginally. A c-section would be the only option.

If I were you, I'd definitely get another scan at some point. Yes, there are risks, but it think they're far smaller than the risks of trying a UC without knowing whether you have placenta previa. Chances are that you'll find out that it's resolved itself, which will give you the peace of mind you need moving forward.

Just my two pennies. Good luck.
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#3 of 4 Old 09-03-2014, 07:31 PM
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It is totally reasonable to hit your OB with all the questions in the world about this, and that is what I would strongly recommend that you do.

Questions I would ask include (but are definitely not limited to):
- How far from the cervix does the placenta appear to be, based on the last ultrasound?
- How much distance would the doctor want to see in order to feel comfortable proceeding, as planned, with a vaginal delivery?
- Are there any other conditions that might make low-lying placenta more of a concern?

Follow-up ultrasound is strongly recommended for cases like this, where the placenta is, or might be, close to the cervix. IIRC, you want to see a certain minimum distance. IMO, it's worth taking a second look at the placental location in the third trimester, to make sure you've got that minimum clearance. If you don't have enough space, the risks of birthing unassisted get pretty ugly. The concern is that, as the lower segment of the uterus changes shape in late pregnancy and labor, the placenta will shear away from the uterine wall, causing blood loss to both you and the baby. THe seperation of the placenta from the uterus may also impede placental function, which means the baby may not be getting oxygen. If the placenta begins to shear away from the lower segment of the uterine wall, you'll experience painless, bright red bleeding, which can be trivial, or can be severe enough to kill you.

The good news for you is that your placenta is low-lying, but apparently not actually over the cervix. Odds are good that this problem will resolve by itself long before you go into labor, but it's a case where you probably really want to be sure.
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#4 of 4 Old 09-03-2014, 10:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks ladies, all good points. It was definitely not presented to me as even a marginal previa, but even so, I suppose I would feel better knowing it was a complete non issue I should have asked the distance, the US tech mentioned something about 3cm, but I'm not sure if she was measuring the distance of the placenta or if she was measuring the length of the cervix at that moment.
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