During a recent ultrasound in my 20th week, the OB/GYN said that my placenta was very close to my cervix. She indicated that I would have to come in for a second ultrasound in the seventh month. She also stated that I may have to undergo a C-section if the placenta does not shift away from my cervix. Her brief reasoning was, "I can't deliver the placenta before the baby." Is having the placenta close to the cervix a common problem? If it starts out close, does it normally start to shift away? Are there any ways and/or exercises that can help shift the placenta away from the cervix? - Karen, San Diego, CA
The expert answers
Hi, Karen --
The placenta is formed wherever the egg decides to attach to the wall of the uterus. Usually, it is in the upper two thirds of the uterus but occasionally it attaches in the lower uterine segment near or over the opening to the cervix.
As the pregnancy progresses, placentas do tend to gravitate up as the uterus grows up and out of the pelvis. Placentas that entirely cover the opening to the cervix usually do not make that drastic a change. This is called placenta previa, meaning that the placenta is in front of the baby and entirely covers the opening to the cervix. There are partial placenta previas, where only a portion of the cervical opening is covered, and these are the ones that may shift upwards in the uterus as it grows.
If you have these problems, then, the main thing to watch for is bleeding. Bleeding may mean that some portion of the placenta -- sometimes just an edge -- has loosened from the uterus. This can cause irritation to the uterine muscle, resulting in cramps or contractions and can be a dangerous situation for mother and baby. Obviously, if you look at the anatomy, the placenta which delivers the oxygen and blood flow to the baby cannot be delivered first ,or the baby would not survive and there could be a great deal of blood loss for the mother. Not wanting either of these things to occur, if a placenta previa is diagnosed, Cesarean delivery is the only way to have a good outcome for both the mother and the baby. There are no exercises or ways that I am aware of to affect a change in the placental position. I hope that your next ultrasound shows that your placenta has moved away from your cervix. If it has not, enjoy your baby and have a quick recovery from your Cesarean delivery.
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