The placenta is an organ that nourishes the baby in the womb. Placental abruption is when it parts from the womb before a baby is born.
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Sometimes the cause it not clear. Other times it may be due to:
- Rupture of an artery or vein in the uterus which causes bleeding between the placenta and the uterine wall
- Problems with how the placenta forms
- Low oxygen levels in the uterus
- Injury to the belly from an accident or a fall
- Sudden decrease in the volume of the uterus, from losing amniotic fluid or from the delivery of a first twin
This health problem is more common in older mothers.
Factors that may raise your risk are:
In the early stages, you may not have symptoms. If you do, you may have:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Belly pain
- Back pain
- Rapid contractions
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam will also be done.
You may have:
- Blood tests
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. You may have:
Fluids may be given by IV to replace lost fluids. Blood transfusions may also be given to replace lost blood supply.
You and your fetus will be carefully monitored for signs of distress or shock .
Do not take drugs or smoke during pregnancy.
If you have this health problem before, your doctor will watch you closely if you become pregnant again.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org
The Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) http://sogc.org
Bleeding in pregnancy, placenta previa, placental abruption. Stanford Children's Health website. Available at: http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=bleeding-in-pregnancyplacenta-previaplacental-abruption-90-P02437. Accessed August 8, 2018.
Neilson JP. Interventions for treating placental abruption. Cochrane Database for Syst Rev. 2003;(1):CD003247.
Placental abruption. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116309/Placental-abruption#Prevention-and-Screening . Updated November 4, 2016. Accessed August 8, 2018.
Placental abruption: Abruptio placentae. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/placental-abruption. Updated May 2, 2017. Accessed August 8, 2018.
Tikkanen M. Etiology, clinical manifestations, and prediction of placental abruption. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2010;89(6):732-740.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 08/08/2018