So you have just been for your 20 week scan and your sonographer has told you that you have a low lying placenta, and you will be monitored to see if you can birth vaginally or you may have even been told to prepare for a caesarean.
It is important NOT TO STRESS!
A low lying placenta can be common in early pregnancy, and should not be confused with “placenta praevia”.
The most common types of placenta praevia are:
A partial placenta praevia (or marginal praevia) that partly covers the cervix;
A total placenta praevia completely covers the cervix;
The main concern is if your placenta is covering the cervix either fully or partially towards the latter stages of pregnancy, then this is known as placenta praevia.
This happens in about 1 in 200 pregnancies and can cause major blood loss in the mother; therefore babies are born by caesarean. A woman who has a fully covered cervix in early pregnancy is most likely to stay that way and will be required to have a caesarean.
I’m only going to be focussing on a “low lying placenta” in this article and how the changes occurring between your 20 week scan and your birth can make a huge difference in where your placenta is positioned.
To the frustration of many childbirth educators, midwives and doulas we wish you would get told this next bit of information from the start of learning you have a “low lying placenta” so that you are not stressing about it.
Your placenta implants itself anywhere in the uterus during conception.
Once your placenta implants in the uterus it doesn’t actually move, however in your third trimester the bottom part of the uterus expands and stretches and because the placenta is attached to the uterine wall, it is carried upwards with the uterus further away from the cervix towards the richer blood supply in the upper part of the uterus.
This is more common if your placenta implants anteriorly (at the front of your uterus closer to your belly), if it implants posteriorly (at the back of the uterus nearer to your spine) there is not as much expansion like at the front of the uterus but there still is some expansion.
However, most times a low lying placenta fixes itself without any worries or side effects, and you can birth quite normally through the vagina, without the need for special monitoring or the threat of caesarean.
Generally the cut-off point for low lying placenta is 2cm from the cervix and 90% of those who are advised of their low lying placenta at their 20 week scan go on to have a normal, vaginal birth.
So to demonstrate this marvellous “movement” of your uterus and therefore your placenta, grab yourself a balloon.
Put a black blob which will represent your placenta at the base of the neck of the balloon and then blow up the balloon.
As you blow and the balloon expands (think of this as your uterus), so too you can see how the black blob (your placenta) moves away from the opening at the neck of your balloon (your cervix) – the same way as your uterus expands and stretches, so too your placenta is carried up and away from the cervix opening.
Here is a video to demonstrate for you:
So now go and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and let your uterus do the job that it has been designed to do!
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator, Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Pregnancy Massage & Pain Specialist, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Hypnotherapist and Life Coach.
I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted on (08) 9303 9111 or feel free to send me an email [email protected]