Posts Tagged ‘cervix’

What is placenta previa?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

During pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus and supplies the baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. (The cervix is the opening to the uterus that sits at the top of the vagina.)

Placenta previa happens in about 1 in 200 pregnancies. If you have placenta previa early in pregnancy, it usually isn’t a problem. It will be monitored, however, because it can cause serious bleeding and other complications later in pregnancy.

Normally, the placenta grows into the upper part of the uterus wall, away from the cervix. It stays there until your baby is born. During the last stage of labor, the placenta separates from the wall, and your contractions help push it into the vagina (birth canal). This is also called the afterbirth.

During labor, your baby passes through the cervix into the birth canal. If you have placenta previa, when the cervix begins to efface (thin out) and dilate (open up) for labor, blood vessels connecting the placenta to the uterus may tear. This can cause severe bleeding during labor and birth, putting you and your baby in danger.

The most common symptom of placenta previa is painless bleeding from the vagina during the second half of pregnancy. Call your health care provider right away if you have vaginal bleeding anytime during your pregnancy. If the bleeding is severe, go to the hospital.

An ultrasound usually can find placenta previa and pinpoint the placenta’s location. In some cases, your provider may use a transvaginal ultrasound instead.

Even if you don’t have vaginal bleeding, a routine, second trimester ultrasound may show that you have placenta previa. Don’t be too worried if this happens. Placenta previa found in the second trimester fixes itself in most cases.

Treatment depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, the seriousness of your bleeding and the health of you and your baby. To learn more, read our article on placenta previa.

Cervical Health Awareness Month

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I was looking through a national health observances calendar the other day and discovered that, among other things, this is Cervical Health Awareness Month.  It was a good reminder to me to schedule an annual check up.

Most women I know don’t relish the thought of having their next Pap smear – I mean really, I can think of a lot of other things I’d rather be doing –  but they do eventually get around to it.  I remember as a busy mom, however, how easy it was to put myself last.  Yep, I’d take the kids to the doc, get their vaccinations, take the hubby to the optometrist or the dog to the vet… but somehow time easily marched by before I stopped slacking off and remembered to take care of myself.  And then one year when I finally did go, I was shocked to find a bad result which eventually led to surgery.  Not an avenue I’d recommend.

Did you know that some cervical surgery may cause a condition known as cervical insufficiency that can lead to premature birth?   Vaginal infections, like Group B strep or sexually transmitted infections, can pose special risks for pregnant women and their babies.

So ladies, make sure you get with the program.  Go for your annual check up.  If there is an early sign of an infection or problem, you can nip it in the bud.  It’s important for you, your future children and the family that loves you.