The placenta is a vital organ that grows in a mother’s womb during pregnancy. It plays a vital role in the development of the fetus. It serves the important function of providing your baby with oxygen and the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.
When the placenta does not develop properly, or its function is compromised, it can disrupt or block the supply of oxygen and nutrients. It may also disrupt proper hormone production and put the fetus at risk of disease or infection.
This condition is known as placental insufficiency (also known as placental dysfunction or uteroplacental vascular insufficiency). When this occurs, it can lead to low birth weight, premature birth and congenital disabilities. It can also carry health risks and complications for the mother. Diagnosing this problem early on is critical to the health of both mother and child.
What will affect placental health?
There are many factors that can affect the health of the placenta during pregnancy. Some under your control, and others not. For example:
- Maternal age: some placental issues are more common in older women, especially after the age of 40
- High blood pressure
- Twin or multiple pregnancies
- Blood clotting disorders
- Previous placental problems
- Waters breaking before labour starts
- Substance use
- Abdominal trauma
Disorders That Can Affect the Placenta During Pregnancy
The following are placental problems that can affect you during pregnancy.
1. Placental abruption
Placental abruption develops if the placenta peels away from the inner walls of the uterus before delivery. This can be either partial or full. When this happens, it can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients and cause the mother to bleed heavily. It is a serious pregnancy condition that, if left untreated, can be life-threatening for the mother and baby.
2. Placenta previa
Placenta previa occurs when the placenta partially or totally covers the cervix. The causes of placenta previa are unknown, but it is more common early on in the pregnancy and might resolve itself as the uterus grows.
If you suffer from placenta previa, it can cause severe vaginal bleeding during pregnancy or delivery. If you suffer from placenta previa into the third trimester, your doctor might recommend a c-section.
3. Placenta accreta
A healthy placenta will detach from the uterine wall after childbirth. With placenta accreta, the placenta will remain firmly attached to the uterus. It is caused when the blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply within the uterine wall.
In advanced cases, the placenta will invade the muscles of the uterus or grow through the uterine wall. Your doctor will most likely recommend a c-section which is then followed by removal of your uterus.
4. Retained placenta
If the placenta is not delivered within 30 minutes after childbirth, this is known as a retained placenta. This might occur because the placenta becomes trapped behind a partially closed cervix or because the placenta is still attached to the uterine wall. If left untreated, a retained placenta can cause severe infection or life-threatening blood loss.
5. Placental insufficiency
This is also known as placental dysfunction, and it occurs when the placenta does not form correctly or becomes damaged. When placental insufficiency occurs, the baby will receive insufficient amounts of oxygen and nutrients, which will cause growth delays.
6. Placental infarcts
Placental infarcts refer to areas of dead tissue found in the placenta, which is usually caused by blood vessel issues. Placental infarcts can cause decreased blood flow to the affected areas and, in more severe cases, the fetus may not grow, or it may cause fetal death.
Signs of Placental Problems
You should contact your healthcare provider during pregnancy if you experience vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, back pain, or uterine contractions.
Reduce Your Risk of Placental Problems
Not all placental problems can be directly prevented. Despite this, you can take certain steps to promote a healthy pregnancy. You should visit your health care provider regularly throughout your pregnancy. You can also work with them to manage any health conditions like high blood pressure.
In addition, you should not smoke or take recreational drugs. Speak with your doctor about any potential risks before deciding to pursue the option of a c-section.
Suppose you have had any placental problems in previous pregnancies and want to pursue an additional pregnancy. In that case, you should speak to your healthcare provider about how you can reduce the risk of experiencing the condition again.
If you have had previous uterus surgery, you should also let your healthcare provider know about your past. Expect your healthcare provider to monitor your condition closely throughout the pregnancy.
Injured by a Medical Professional? We Can Help
Disorders that affect the placenta cannot be cured, but they can be managed appropriately during the pregnancy. It is very important to receive early diagnosis and adequate prenatal care. Both will increase the baby’s chances of normal growth and decrease the risk of birth complications.
When there are obstetrical malpractice and your health care professional fails to identify these pregnancy problems, you deserve the right to seek compensation for injuries that otherwise could have been treated. Sommers Roth & Elmaleh has represented mothers and other medical malpractice victims for decades, and we have recovered funds for those families so they can care for their children and families.
To learn more about the disorders that can affect the placenta, call Sommers Roth & Elmaleh at 416-961-1211 or contact us here.
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