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What Is Placental Abruption?

During the weeks and months of a pregnancy, you want everything to go smoothly. However, despite every precaution, sometimes a serious complication like placental abruption can occur, often late in a pregnancy.

For pregnancy care you can trust, turn to Dr. Leonardo Longoria of Longoria OBGYN in El Paso, Texas. Dr. Longoria and our experienced and compassionate care team provide support before, during, and after your pregnancy, handling complications like placental abruption and protecting your health and your baby.

What is placental abruption?

Placental abruption, medically known as abruptio placentae, is a serious complication that can cause heavy bleeding in the mother and endangers the baby’s life.

Your placenta develops in your uterus during your pregnancy. Attached to the wall of your uterus, the placenta keeps your growing baby supplied with needed nutrients and oxygen. Your baby needs the placenta to continue to grow and develop properly.

Placental abruption can happen suddenly when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterine wall. Without a full supply of nutrients and oxygen, your developing baby can suffer complications. The mother can also suffer from dangerous bleeding.

Women are more likely to deal with placental abruption if they’re over 40 years of age, or if they suffer a trauma or injury around the abdomen. Chronic high blood pressure, smoking, and cocaine use during pregnancy increases the risk of placental abruption. If you’ve had a placental abruption before, your risk of it happening in a future pregnancy goes up.

Symptoms of placental abruption

Placental abruption is most likely to occur late in a pregnancy, in the final trimester or even just a few weeks before the due date.

Watch for signs and symptoms of placental abruption like vaginal bleeding, sudden back or abdominal pain, uterine contractions, and either tenderness or rigidity of your uterus. The symptoms of this condition aren’t the same for everyone. You might not see any vaginal bleeding at all, even in a severe case of placental abruption. 

If you have chronic abruption that develops slowly, negatively impacting your baby’s growth and development, you could see light, intermittent vaginal bleeding.

If you have symptoms of placental abruption, seek emergency medical care right away. Medical treatment is essential for getting mother and baby through a placental abruption. 

You could suffer from blood clots, shock due to blood loss, or organ failure. If uterine bleeding can’t be brought under control, you may require a hysterectomy. Placental abruption could cause your baby to suffer from restricted growth or oxygen deprivation, and can result in premature birth or stillbirth.

The medical care you need

After a placental abruption, it isn’t possible to reattach the placenta to your uterine wall. If your baby isn’t near full term, you may need to be hospitalized for monitoring and may be given medications to help your baby’s lungs and brain in case of early delivery. 

If your pregnancy has progressed to at least 34 weeks, early delivery, possibly by C-section, might be the best treatment for you and your baby.

Talk to Dr. Longoria about your concerns about your pregnancy. He can help you put together an emergency plan for any complications that may arise as you wait for your baby to be born.

Reduce risk factors like smoking, and always use seat belts and other protective equipment, for the duration of your pregnancy. If you’ve previously suffered from a placental abruption, let Dr. Longoria know before you become pregnant again.

To learn more about your pregnancy care options, get in touch with Longoria OBGYN today. You can schedule your appointment over the phone or book online now.

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