What is Placental Abruption
Placental abruption is the early separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus. The placental may completely or partially separate, but either way it causes bleeding which can be fast, extreme, and life-threatening for both mother and child. Because the baby gets oxygen and nutrients from the placenta, a placental abruption can interrupt that process, as well. This is a medical emergency.
The symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding (even a small amount)
- Back pain
- Tenderness in the uterus
- Fast contractions
Am I at Risk for Placental Abruption?
Some studies estimate that placental abruption happens once in every 150 pregnancies. It is most common in the third trimester (after 28 weeks), but can occur as early as 20 weeks.
No one knows exactly why placental abruptions happen, but we do know that some women are more likely to face this problem. Women with increased risk include:
- Prior placental abruptions
- Too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios)
- Blood clotting disorders
- Carrying twins, triplets or other multiples
- Hypertension or preeclampsia
- Trauma to the abdomen (oftentimes caused by car accidents)
- Use of tobacco, methamphetamines, cocaine, or alcohol during pregnancy
- Fibroids in the uterus
- Age 40 or older (advanced maternal age)
How should my Doctors Treat Placental Abruption?
Doctors and nurses should be prepared to diagnose a placental abruption. When a patient arrives with the symptoms, an abruption must first be confirmed or ruled out. They may need to monitor the baby’s heart rate with electronic fetal monitoring, (EFM), perform an ultrasound, and examine the vagina and cervix.