Third Trimester Placenta Problems

There are a variety of third trimester placenta problems that a pregnant woman may encounter.  Problems with the placenta can be very serious, and are one of the larger contributors to the chances of a stillbirth.  Some of the problems with the placenta that can take place during the third trimester include placenta previa, placental abruption, and partial placental separation.

Placenta previa is a common third trimester problem with the placenta.  In this condition the placenta blocks the cervix.  This will often create bleeding.  In most cases, this also will create trouble with delivery, often requiring that the baby be delivered via Cesarean section.

Placental abruption is the separation of the placenta before delivery.  This can occur at any time during a pregnancy, although most of the time placental abruption will happen during the third trimester.  It is extremely rare for placenta separation to occur at all in the first trimester, or the beginning of the second trimester.  It almost never occurs before the 20th week of pregnancy.  In many cases, the separation of the placenta can be treated, depending on what kind of separation occurs.

Placenta separation can be extremely dangerous.  The placenta is the life support system for your baby.  It is how he gets nutrients and oxygen.  If the placenta separates from the lining of your uterus before delivery, it can affect the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your baby.

If the placenta does not fully separate completely from the wall of the uterus, the expectant mother will likely be put on bed rest and monitored closely.  In some cases, there may be other treatments as well.  If the placenta has completely separated, the only course of action is typically to try to delivery the baby.  This is particularly troublesome if the placenta separation occurs in the first or second trimesters, and even into the third trimester as it is not likely that the delivery will be possible the earlier you are in pregnancy.

Some of the symptoms of placenta separation can include vaginal bleeding, tenderness of the uterus, unexpected and rapid contractions, pain in the abdomen, and abnormalities with the baby’s heart rate.

Risks for placenta separation include cocaine use, preeclampsia, twin or multiple pregnancy, trauma to the abdomen, uterine abnormalities, and being over the age of 35.

Leila Pereira
Leila Pereira
I work in occupational therapy and occupational science. I specialize in early intervention pediatrics for children from birth to three years old; with an emphasis on children with autism. My goals are to support the achievement of developmental milestones in your child while collaborating with caregivers & parents; including play skill development, education, leisure, rest and sleep, feeding, nutrition and social participation. Licensed by the California Board of Occupational Therapy

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