Here is everything you need to know about placental abruption

The placenta is a baby’s support system in the womb. If it doesn’t work properly, the baby is at risk of health problems.

A baby in the womb
A baby in the womb

What is placental abruption?

Placental abruption is when the placenta comes away from the wall of the womb before the baby has delivered. It can be fatal to both baby and mother if not detected early enough.Placental abruption affects up to one per cent of pregnancies. It can be caused by impact, such as a car crash, or may be related to a condition, such as pre-eclampsia or fetal growth restriction. When placenta abruption happens, the placenta is damaged and the baby may not be supported to develop properly.

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Symptoms include: ? Pain in the back and abdomen? Contractions? Tender womb? Bleeding

Women are warned to seek medical help immediately if they are suffering from any of these symptoms.

Risk factors for placental abruption

Placental abruption is more likely if the mother:

had a previous placental abruption

is a smoker

is a cocaine or amphetamine user

has chronic high blood pressure

has pre-eclampsia

has had a blow to the stomach or an indirect trauma that may have affected the placenta

has an intrauterine infection.

To reduce your risk avoid smoking in pregnancy and taking street drugs in pregnancy.

What does placental abruption mean for me and my baby?

The effects and treatment of placental abruption depend on how severe it is. If you are under 34 weeks and only a small part of the placenta has broken away from the womb you will be monitored closely to make sure the baby is growing properly and to watch for signs of labour starting.

If there is a risk of your baby not growing properly then labour may be induced.

If the abruption is more severe, you are losing lots of blood and the baby is in distress or at risk of not growing properly you may need to have your labour induced or have an emergency caesarean.

In addition to any problems that the baby may have from the placental abruption, there are health risks of being delivered early. These depend on how far into the pregnancy you are.