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Diagnosis: Placenta Previa

Posted Jan 22 2009 3:54pm

I am currently 16 weeks pregnant with my 7th child - in case you missed that info. I am in a new city (well, I lived here before but that was over 6 years ago) and there is only one certified nurse midwife. Only one! Anyway, going with my new insurance provider network, I selected an OB/GYN firm of three women to have my first appointment here in my new town. So far so good. I really like my new doctor - she is very “midwifey” in spirit - although she did have me do a dating ultrasound right off the bat (but was cool with my refusal of other tests).

During the ultrasound, it was discovered that I have a complete placenta previa as of right now. According to the Mayo Clinic placenta previa is: “Early in pregnancy, the placenta may implant in the lower part of the uterus. As the uterus grows, the placenta usually moves up and away from the opening of the uterus (cervix). If it doesn’t, the cervix may be blocked. This is known as placenta previa.

“If you have placenta previa, the placenta will detach from the lower part of the uterus as the cervix begins to open in preparation for labor. This can cause severe vaginal bleeding. Thankfully, placenta previa is nearly always detected before a woman or her baby is in significant danger.”

I have heard some encouraging words on the Mothering.com Discussion Boards, and there is a possibility that the placenta is centered over my cervix but anterior, so that it’s really not complete - but it doesn’t look that way. A few people said that it may move, but that’s doubtful as well. One very helpful student midwife explained it like this: picture a postage stamp on a deflated balloon. Once the balloon is inflated, the stamp may stretch, but essentially it remains implanted in the same place.

I don’t have to tell you (but I will anyway, as is my nature) that I’m frightened of the idea of a c-section. I have always done everything I can to encourage women to labor and birth naturally. I have always been able to do so myself. The idea of scheduling a surgery is very scary for a person who has never had a surgery of any kind. I, knock wood, have never even broken a bone!

On the other hand - I understand the very real danger of this complication and - just like when Alex, my 12 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes - have come to appreciate medical doctors much more than I did in the past. I am so grateful that there are ways to deal with such situations - and that I won’t just die of a hemorrage or something trying to birth “through” a previa - like I would have say, 100 years ago.

I must say that I am particularly worried because I tend to have a lot of Braxton-Hicks in my last few months - which it appears can aggravate the condition and cause more bleeding.

The Mayo Clinic also says that: “Placenta previa occurs when the placenta implants in the lower part of the uterus and then grows to cover the cervix. Theories about placenta previa link the condition to:

  • Scars in the lining of the uterus (endometrium)
  • A large placenta, such as with a multiple pregnancy
  • An abnormally shaped uterus

Placenta previa is more common among women who:

  • Have already delivered at least one baby
  • Had a previous C-section
  • Had placenta previa with a previous pregnancy
  • Are age 35 or older
  • Smoke
  • Are carrying twins, triplets or other multiples
  • Have had a previous uterine surgery, such as myomectomy to remove uterine fibroids or dilation and curettage (D and C) to scrape the uterine lining”

Obviously, I have a few of the risk factors - I’m 36, have delivered more than one baby and had a D & C after my miscarriage in ‘06 (between Jack and Kiara). So, it’s not like it’s unheard of  - and I suppose when you get pregnant 7 (actually 8 times) there are bound to be complications with one of them. I must say, too, that even more than a c-section, I am really scared about having a premature baby. Just because I know how hard it is for a premie to survive and all of the struggles they go through.

Anyway - wish me luck and if you have experience with this condition please let me know!

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