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The Post I've Been Avoiding: Placenta What?

By alismith |

Thinking happy thoughts on the beach, a few days after my appointment.

Subtitle: What I Didn’t Expect to Find Out at My 20-Week Ultrasound

This problem is like a spider in my bedroom. I try really hard not to think about it, but it’s there. Unless, of course, it goes away. I’m pretty sure that I’m avoiding writing—or even thinking—about this subject altogether in hopes that it will disappear. But since it’s already affecting my lifestyle to a degree, it’s also staring me in the face a bit.

Shortly after discovering our baby’s gender, we entered our doctor’s office where, after congratulating us on the little lady growing inside, the words “placenta previa” escaped from her lips. Placenta wha? She really didn’t give me a lot of information, but explained that my placenta is completely blocking my cervix, and told me if I notice any spotting or bleeding that I would need to contact her office. She also said I should try to avoid avid running and a couple other “activities.”

She explained that, in my case, placenta previa has a 50 percent chance of correcting itself—or moving as it grows so the cervix is no longer blocked. Don’t quote me on that percentage, but that’s how I (choose to?) remember it. Fifty percent offers pretty good odds. But after hitting up the world wide web, my concerns grew a little. I read about the possibilities of mandatory c sections (eek), up to 15 weeks of bed rest (ugh!) and scary bleeding stories (double eek) that warrant multiple trips to hospitals and emergency rooms.

I’m trying to take it easy, but it’s hard not to haul necessities like groceries up a couple flights of stairs, and sometimes a toddler, too. Bigger, I also have to move out of our apartment next month—and I don’t live anywhere near family members. I have so much to do, before then and after. I cannot, willnot, shouldnot have placenta previa. I am thinking good thoughts in hopes that I can mentally alter the positioning of my placenta. I find myself taking deep breaths and imagining my uterus is a balloon that can be filled up to float and rotate inside me.

For now, I’ll just keep mentally smashing that spider. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed for the news I want at my next ultrasound in early September. I like to think my chances are good. The glass is half full, after all.

Did you have placenta previa? Did you have any symptoms I should be mindful of? Had it changed positions at the next ultrasound?

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About alismith



Ali Smith is a blogger and writer who contributed to More of her work can be found on her personal blog, Ali Loves Curtis.

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12 thoughts on “The Post I've Been Avoiding: Placenta What?

  1. carak says:

    i was monitored for placenta previa starting at 19 weeks and by my 28 week ultrasound it had moved up, and (so they tell me) it is no longer a concern. this is my first pregnancy, so i have nothing to compare to, but the only thing i’ve noticed is i haven’t been able to feel any baby movement below my bellybutton (only above it). good luck to you – will be crossing my fingers for you for a healthy pregnancy and baby girl!

  2. Katie says:

    I am so sorry about your bittersweet ultrasound. I, too, have recently gone through the same thing. We discovered at our 20 week u/s that my placenta is low-lying. If it moves, that’s great. If not, C-Section. Total bummer. But I could handle that.

    We also found out that our baby has an ompholocele. A defect with the umbilical cord that will require surgery immediately after he’s born. And he’ll have to stay in the hospital for several weeks. I’ve been struggling (unsuccessfully) with this news for the last week. I feel like I’ve almost made it worse by reading tons and tons of birth stories from women who may have complicated labor/delivery situations but who ALWAYS get to take their baby home from the hospital. Suddenly, everything has changed for us. If I can avoid a C, I will try to deliver vaginally without an epidural. That way I can get out of the hospital faster.

    It feels like a crushing weight to have to deal with these huge concerns when our hormones are out of whack to begin with. Just know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to be upset or scared about previa. Give yourself time to digest this before you launch in to “how do I fix it? how do I control it?” I wish all the best for you as you face this potential complication. Please keep us posted.

  3. alismith says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Katie. I’ve been curious as to whether or not I also have a low-lying placenta because I have noticed more pressure than I did in my last pregnancy.

    I have never heard of ompholocele; and you’re right, sometimes reading the stories online only heightens your fears rather than your confidence. I’ll be wishing the best for your baby, and your delivery!

  4. Holly Whitney says:

    Ali—I was also diagnosed with complete placenta previa at my 20 week ultrasound. I consulted Dr. Google and quickly became terrified by all of it. My doctor was sure that while it may move a little out of the way, it would not move entirely and I would be doing the mandatory c-section as well as avoiding lots of activities during the last four months of my pregnancy. Fortunately, it moved completely out of the way and all my restrictions were lifted.

    If you want to read a little bit about my experience with placenta previa I wrote about it a couple of times here on Babble. And if you want to chat about it privately feel free to shoot me an email.

  5. alismith says:

    Holly, I’m so happy to hear it! I think it’s the “complete” part that’s making me a little more nervous. Thanks for the links; I’ll check ‘em out.

  6. Paulina says:

    I had partial previa at 20 weeks but for my 28 week ultrasound, it had moved out of the way too. I know its not the same as completly blocked, but there is still a chance it can move. My best friends mom is an ultrasound tech and she said that it is VERY common at the 20 week appointment and that as you’re uterus expands and grows, the placenta usually moves up and away from the cervix. It is what it is. If it doesn’t move and you deliver by c-section, you still end up with a healthy baby girl. Don’t stress yourself too much about this ‘spider in the room’, deep breaths, relaxation, and rest are what your body needs now.

  7. ldancer says:

    I had partial previa, which I was not told about directly, but instead found out about when an incredibly unprofessional ultrasound tech announced it to someone else in the room, over my head, referring to me in the third person. However, my midwives were very measured about it – definitely alert to it, but not alarmist at all. They told me that it was sort of like making a mark on a balloon and then blowing it up – “It’ll move up, and most likely be fine”. And it was. Every ultrasound showed it moving out of the way a little more, until it was completely normal. Don’t worry. You have many more weeks of pregnancy, and you will grow quite a bit! A friend of mine had complete previa and was able to deliver vaginally with no interventions at all (don’t know if that’s your desire, but if it is, maybe hearing that will help).

  8. Kendra says:

    I hope y’all deliever a safe and healthy baby. I had been in the hopsital b/c that I had placenta previa. I was scared and didn’t greatly understand it. I was spoting alot. But now im almost 38 weeks, I wish the best for all of y’all. God Bless You.

  9. Angie says:

    I am another mom that had the “low lying placenta” at my 20 week ultrasound with my first baby, and by 28 weeks, it had corrected itself. Don’t freak out yet!

  10. sara says:

    I keep getting bad news at my ultrasound visits only to have those issues be nothing or resolve themselves. I am high risk and at my last ultrasound (a few days ago) they advised me that I have partial placenta previa and that my placenta attached low. YAY ME. So for now I have my feet up and am not doing much of anything but trying to, like the blogger, will my uterus to move. :) I spoke to my midwife and she is pretty hopeful that it will move. Until then I am taking it easy. In four weeks I will know one way or the other. I am crossing my fingers and twos that I don’t go on bedrest. I am not a good patient and that would be so hard for me. All the nurses and such seem pretty convinced that with a few weeks of taking it easy and more growth that it will be corrected and all will be right with the world. So relax out there in the universe.. I know I am. :)

  11. Darla says:

    Ali! That’s not good! I hope it corrects itself and all is well..soon! And you’re moving in a month?! WhAT? WHere?!!

  12. Anne says:

    I’ll chime in with another “it turned out OK” story. I was told I had a low-lying placenta at my 20 week ultrasound. (During my second pregnancy.) At first I was kind of freaked about it, but when I talked to my midwife a few days later she was very nonchalant about the whole thing. She explained the risks, but followed that by stressing that it’s super common and usually fixes itself. She was so reassuring, in fact, that I barely thought about it much after I talked to her. (I found a bunch of other things to worry about and obsess over instead.) At a follow-up ultrasound several weeks later, my placenta was just fine. I had absolutely no complications during birth.

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