Placenta Previa

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Complete placental previa - should I switch to a high-risk OB?

May 2004

I have a complete placental previa. I'm generally happy with my OB (Dr. Lee), but I'm wondering if I should switch to a high risk OB. When I asked her, she said it wasn't necessary as she consults with one if she has questions, but I still wonder. I'm at 25 weeks and will have another ultrasound at 28 weeks to see if it has cleared up since my last ultrasound at 22 weeks. I'm 35 and this is my first baby. Kristie

I'm no Dr. , but I did have placenta previa with my first child and I worked directly with my regular ob. It's my understanding that the the diagnosis is fairly common around the 20-week mark, but that the situation often corrects itself over time when the uterus grows (the placenta stays attached at the same place, but it moves with the growing uterus so it can move out of the way of the cervix.)

I had another ultrasound at 35 weeks and again at 38 weeks, just in case. And in my cse, I ended up ''borderline'' by the final test, so we had a scheduled cesarian at 39 weeks. In the end it turned out that the placenta was an issue so it would have likely resulted in sign. complications during delivery.

My ob delivery the baby and I went on to have a VBAC with my second child. let me know if I can answer any other q's for you. Good luck! Jennifer

By all means see a specialist! I had a complete previa as well as an accreta, and knowing that I had the best qualified OBs to deal with it gave me strength and a measure of calm. I highly recommend Dr. Mickye Adams for her expertise in high risk pregnancies, as well as being a really smart and kind person. She, along with Dr. Goldee Gross and Dr. Ed Blumenstock (surgeon extraodinaire), were a great team, and I would do it all over again with them. Shirley
I don't think you should neccesarily switch to a high-risk OB. As any doctor will tell you, placenta previa is a relatively rare condition that should be taken very seriously. I had partial placenta previa when I was pregnant with my daughter, and my OB told me that if the placenta moved and completely covered my cervix that I would have to have a c-section (to attempt vaginal delivery would be too dangerous, in other words). I had many ultrasounds (for various reasons), and the placenta remained where it was, partially covering my cervix. I made a 40-hour attempt at vaginal birth, but had several life-threatening complications, the least of which was excessive bleeding (otherwise known as hemmorhaging) because of the placenta previa, and I ended up having a c-section. You seem to trust your doctor in general, and I should think she would know exactly what to do in the case of full placenta previa (esp. since she has consulted w/a high-risk OB). Good luck! brie
I'm a nurse practitioner specializing in Ob-Gyn. In placenta previa, some portion of the placenta covers the cervix. When the placenta is in this position, bleeding is more common during the pregnancy, and especially during birth. If the previa is present at the end of the pregnancy, you would be recommended to have a cesarian to avoid hemorrhage. In partial placenta previa only a portion of the placenta covers the cervix. This is a relatively common finding at 20 weeks; In complete previa, the entire cervix is covered by the placenta. This is less common, although not rare.

Standard practice is to recommend ''pelvic rest'' until a follow- up ultrasound indicates that the placenta is no longer covering the cervix. (Although the placenta does not move, the growing uterus causes the relationship between the cervix and the placenta to change.) Pelvic rest means: don't have an orgasm, avoid heavy lifting, and be gentle with athletic activities. If you bleed, you should make contact with your health provider. Partial previa resolves 90% of the time and you can go for vaginal birth. Complete previa less commonly resolves and more commonly causes bleeding so your provider should monitor more closely.

I don't think it's necessary to see a specialist; it's just important to have good communication, trust, and a clear plan with your provider so that you are confident that you're receiving the best possible care! Good luck,

Local NP

Diagnosed with placenta previa and placenta accreta

Feb 2003

Hello Everyone - I've just been diagnosed with placenta previa and placenta accreta, am scared silly and would like to hear from others who've gone through this. I'm due in May and am wondering if anyone's had any luck with alternative medicine, or anything that you might want to share with me. PLEASE, no horror stories, I've already got that covered. Thank you for any feedback.
Owner of a Runaway Placenta

I had written a similar post in 2001 after being diagnosed with complete placenta previa. Even though I dont have any alternative medicinal suggestions, I wanted to write in to let her know a happy ending to balance out the horror stories a little. I am now the grateful and happy mother of a one year old.

My only suggestion would be to be as homebound and stress free as possible for the last trimester. Fortunately, I was able to work from home after the 32nd week. I had my mother stay with me to mimimize the workload of a 20 month old ( my older child)and that helped too. Staying horizontal rather than vertical helps too. Do try to err on the side of caution. If in doubt, dont. Im sorry I cant be of more help. I really feel your anxiety. Please email me if you just want to talk to someone whos been there. vbal

My sister-in-law had placenta previa with her thrid child -- very badly in that she bled on and off most of her pregnancy. She delivered a healthy, full term baby girl. What worked for her was taking it very, very easy -- her husband took the other two children away a few times during the preg. so she could have bedrest. This seemed to be the best - that and getting used to bleeding thru pregnancy. Good luck.
I was also diagnosed with partial placenta previa. It was scary and really not what I wanted to hear as I was really committed to having a natural birth. We did all the things we needed to do in preparation for the birth we wanted to have and hoped for the best. I was told there really wasn't much that could be done, though it was suggested that I try some of the breech baby techniques (which frankly I didn't do)to try to get the placenta to move back. I would stop worrying about it(easier said than done I know) and concentrate on this amazing beautiful thing that is happening to you. A successful birth is truly a healthy mom and a healthy baby and if that means a c section than so be it. Good luck. By the way my placenta moved back and we had a gorgeous healthy baby with no interventions. anon

15 weeks pregnant with complete posterior placenta previa

October 2001

I am 15 weeks pregnant and just been diagnosed with complete posterior placenta previa. My mind is reeling with confusion and questions about this. I dont fall into any of the categories at high risk for this, but there I have it- I am the statistic. Can anyone with experience with this give me some insight on how they dealt with it?

I went on the web but I found only extreme examples of women rushed to the hospital in ambulances with complications and so on... Is that the norm? I would greatly appreaciate any advice/suggesstions.

Also, would you recommend my seeing a specialist? My doctors well recommended at this site- Dr Huibonhoa at Omni OB/Gyn and she was my doctor for my earlier pregnancy ( i have a 19month old daughter), but Im just concerned whether this puts me into a high risk pregnancy category.

To compound matters, I now live in Fremont, which is a ways from AltaBates in Berkeley. My option over there is Washington Hospital, but I hear neonatal unit is not as good as at AltaBates. In case of an emergency, I would be taken to Washington Hospital, where my doc does not have operating rights. In such a scenario, do you think I would be better off finding another doc affiliated to Washington? or do you think I should stick with someone I have a relationship with, even if she may not be able to help in an emergency.... Have so many conflicting thoughts... I hope someone can help... Thanks, Vaiju

I don't have a lot of advice for you but I thought I would share my experience of partial placenta previa with you to hopefully reduce some of the stress you are feeling about this. I was diagnosed with partial placenta previa early in my pregnancy. I had lots of ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy in hopes that the placenta would move. It never did. At about 36 weeks they prepped me for a C-section just to do an exam in case the placenta ruptured during the exam. It did not. I kept holding out hope for a vaginal delivery. I saw stories of women being rushed to the hospital and was pretty nervous also. Six days past the due date I did begin to bleed, a cup or so and then it stopped. My husband was not home and I couldn't reach him so I called an ambulance. The bleeding stopped as suddenly as it started but I felt safe with the paramedics on hand. Long story short, there was no panic at the hospital. I did have to have the C-section I didn't want. But I was able to be awake and frankly with no labor involved the C-section was easier than the fairly easy vaginal birth I had years before and this includes the recovery. I think of course you should be very informed about your condition. But I wanted you to know my experience with placenta previa turned out just fine. This was my only high risk factor also but I believe that it alone does qualify you as high risk, but don't take that too gravely. I would assume with complete previa they will schedule your C-section and you won't have to get there in an ambulance. Good luck and try not to worry, we are so lucky to have the medical care that we do. -Lynn
I too was diagnosed with complete placenta previa at 15 weeks. I had a follow up ultrasound scheduled at 21 weeks, which showed that it had cleared up. In those 6 weeks between ultrasounds I also looked online and saw all those horror stories, especially in a chat room dedicated to the topic. Yes, the worst cases are all quite frightening. In the end I concluded that the women who were on bedrest were the ones who had time to write at length about their bad experiences online. Those who no longer had this condition later in their pregnancy stopped going to that chat room. Please keep in mind that placenta previa goes away by 20 weeks in most cases. I cancelled travel plans during this period. I also was concerned about getting to the hospital in case of an emergency. It doesn't hurt to be cautious during this period, but don't worry too much about it. Find time to enjoy your pregnancy also! Last week I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and had no complications. I hope the rest of your pregancy goes well. Helena
I was diagnosed with placenta previa at a routine ultrasound apppointment around my 20th week. I had no bleeding or any other symptoms & the doctor suggested that the placenta might still move up by the end of my pregnancy, but to also be ready for a possible c-section if it didn't. She told me to refrain from any heavy lifting, exercise or intercouse as these activities might cause bleeding, which leads to bedrest. I never did have any bleeding or have to be on bedrest & in fact my pregnancy was fairly uneventful except for the above. My placenta never moved up, though, & I had a scheduled c-section one week before my due date. I've now got a happy, healthy 15-month old daughter.

I was a little bummed out at first about having to have the cesarean but it was also very uneventful & not too hard to recover from, but that's another subject altogether. So placenta previa can be a very serious condition but it can also be fairly mild, if the proper precautions are observed and you don't have any bleeding. Or if you're lucky your placenta might move up and you won't have to worry about it!

You might search the Web for a discussion group called club previa, which might lead you to a list that will answer some of your questions. Many of the women there have had more severe cases than I did but it might help to read about some first-hand experiences. I also used to post on the Usenet newsgroup, which you can reach from Go to and click on search groups, then type in placenta previa & see what you get. Or you can post a question there & folks will try to help you out. Good luck! valerie