What A Placenta Previa Diagnosis Means For Your Pregnancy

April 15, 2019  |  

Pregnant African American mid adult patient being examined with a stethoscope

Source: Courtney Hale / Getty

I have a confession to make about my first pregnancy: I wanted a cesarean section almost from the moment I learned I was pregnant. I was never one of those women who felt like experiencing hours of labor and delivery and possible tearing of my reproductive anatomy made me anymore of a mother. I never knocked any woman who desired that experience, or felt cheated if for whatever reason things didn’t go according to plan, but the very thought of painful contractions and pushing through sweat and tears for hours while strangers pried my thighs apart both terrified and exhausted me. I remember thinking that if I had to have a vaginal delivery, I’d push through it (literally) but if for whatever reason having a c-section became a viable option, I’d be relieved and ready for my minor bikini cut across my abdomen as long as my child was safe and healthy.

I managed to have a pretty symptom-free pregnancy before I began to see my OB/GYN more frequently during my second trimester. I hadn’t experienced any morning sickness and besides a little food aversion and fatigue, my baby was doing my body well and developing as expected. But around 20 weeks or so my OB/GYN shared that after an ultrasound, she had some concerns about the placement of my placenta. The blood-rich organ that feeds the baby nutrients and oxygen was sitting low in my uterus and I was officially diagnosed with placenta previa. The good news? The placenta wasn’t actually covering the cervix The bad news? It was sitting too close for my doctor’s comfort, which was technically considered “partial previa.” She advised the next steps would be to monitor the situation and hope the placenta shifted itself in the next few weeks. Several weeks and two very uncomfortable transvaginal ultrasounds later however, it appeared my placenta had set up shop and no plans on relocating.

Around 32 weeks, my OB/GYN made the recommendation to plan for a scheduled c-section. According to her measurements, my placenta didn’t appear to be a barrier to safe vaginal delivery at the time, but ultrasounds can be off slightly and the labor and delivery was “no place to be a cowboy.” A scheduled c-section would allow her time to assess the situation once she could take a closer look at my stubborn placenta, instead of the alternative: risking going into labor and having an emergency c-section if they discovered the placenta was closer than predicted and risk rupturing and hemorrhaging, a dangerous situation for both me and baby.

Thinking back, I can still picture my doctor bracing herself for the tears and guilt that can come with expectant mothers who might be disappointed at the lost opportunity to experience a vaginal birth. But honestly, I was relieved more than anything and just wanted the healthiest pregnancy possible. However, for the remaining few weeks of my pregnancy, there were some limitations. I was now considered high-risk with the goal being making it to my scheduled C-section at 37 weeks without going into labor. Placenta previa can be a big deal and impact your pregnancy in many ways. Here are a few things you can expect if you’re facing diagnosis:

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