When it comes to family planning, you already know you need to watch out for issues like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, maternal dental issues, and more. The list grows every year, and now you can add placenta accreta to it.
Placenta accreta affects one in 2,500 women. In the past, the condition equaled death for women, but today, due to modern medicine, most women make a full recovery.
This serious condition happens when your placenta grows too far into your uterine wall. Normally the placenta will detach itself naturally from the wall after giving birth, however placenta accreta causes part or all of the placenta to remain attached, causing significant blood loss for the mother post-delivery. Even scarier, the placenta can invade uterine muscles (known as placenta increta), and continue growing through the wall (called placenta percreta).
Doctors diagnose placenta accreta as a high-risk pregnancy complication, and if you receive this diagnosis, you’ll likely need a c-section delivery and hysterectomy. Here’s what to look out for with this on-the-rise condition…
Symptoms, causes, and risk factors —
Placenta accreta typically causes no symptoms or signs during pregnancy, other than vaginal bleeding in your third trimester. A routine ultrasound can sometimes detect it, and the earlier doctors pinpoint the condition, the better.
Experts believe abnormalities in the uterine lining (such as scarring) can contribute to the cause, but placenta accreta also occurs without a personal history of uterine surgery. Prior c-sections, previous childbirths, maternal age, and placenta position may also increase your risk.
What complications coincide with it?
The most significant complication placenta accreta poses is the aforementioned heavy vaginal bleeding in the third trimester as well as hemorrhaging after giving birth. Severe bleeding can be life threatening as the blood fails to clot, which can cause lung or kidney failure.
Placenta accreta may also cause premature birth. Kim Kardashian was diagnosed with the condition preeclampsia and delivered her baby six weeks early. Her delivery started and ended easily, but the placenta remained attached. Later diagnosed with placenta accreta she decided to deliver her next child through a surrogate since her pain levels and complications were so great.
It’s not your fault —
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to prevent placenta accreta. If it does happen to you however, it’s important to stay positive and strong. Persevere, spread the word, and push for more research.
Kate Harveston is a health and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. She enjoys covering topics specifically related to mental health awareness and women’s wellbeing. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her women’s health blog, So Well, So Woman.