When you’re pregnant, it’s ideal to prepare a birth plan to make sure everything you hope for your birth to be is followed to the letter by your medical team, household staff, and everyone else involved in the process.
To manage expectations, however, it’s important to remember that not everything may happen as you planned it. Though we always hope for the best outcome in childbirth, there are a number of things that could go awry.
One of the least-known conditions that a woman giving birth may suffer from is placenta accreta, which can be fatal if not treated promptly.
To understand what placenta accreta is, it’s important to first understand what happens during and right after childbirth.
Typically, the placenta, which is the baby’s lifeline while inside the womb, detaches from the uterine wall after childbirth. It is then expelled vaginally within approximately half an hour after the baby is born in a “normal” delivery — also called the afterbirth. This happens as the uterus continues to contract. However, in some cases, the placenta (or a part of it) grows too deeply into the uterus and remains attached to it. This is what is clinically called placenta accreta.
Complications and risk factors of placenta accreta
When this happens, bleeding may happen, causing bladder injury or, worse, hysterectomy, especially if risk factors, such as advanced age, or a previous pregnancy, are present. There is also the possibility of giving birth prematurely. Statistics show placenta accreta occurs in 1 in every 270 births.
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Symptoms of placenta accreta
There are usually no signs or symptoms that point to placenta accreta. Bleeding during the third trimester, however, may be an indicator. The condition may also sometimes be detected via ultrasound.