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Low lying placenta at 32 weeks, is this really so rare?

(21 Posts)
darentinas Mon 15-Feb-10 15:20:25

At my 20 week scan was told I had a low lying placenta and would have to be re-scanned at 32 weeks. Midwife told me it would probably move by then. Just had 32 week scan and placenta hasn't moved at all, still covering the cervix. Told I'll have to come back at 36 weeks.

Now being the neurotic person I am have been frantically googling and have read that only 0.5 - 1 per cent of women will still have a low lying placenta at full term. Very anxious now as have read that a low lying placenta completely covering the cervix in the final stages of pregnancy is very dangerous and can lead to massive complications including premature birth, haemorraghing, placent abruption etc. Also read that most women will be given a c-section at around 36 weeks because of these potential complications.

Don't know if I should be worried or not now I've read all this. Has anyone experienced this??

DorotheaPlenticlew Mon 15-Feb-10 15:24:00

I had similar at 20 weeks, but was told they wouldn't re-scan until 36 weeks in my case. So we are still waiting (am 28 weeks now).

I had an emergency section last time, and have heard that low-lying placenta is more common when you've had a section already. I take it you haven't, though. Is this your first pregnancy? There is still time for it to move, right?

Try not to worry too much. Hopefully someone with more info will post soon.

darentinas Mon 15-Feb-10 15:29:29

Guess there is still time for it to move but get the impession from everything I've read and from the sonogrpaher that its extremely unlikely it will move especially as its completely covering the cervix. I suppose that makes sense, as why would it suddenly decide to move at this late stage?

No never had a section before, trying not to worry as theres nothing we can do in this situation after all. Just got a bit alarmed when one NHS link said complete bed rest is advised and if you have any sign of bleeting at all, no matter how slight the baby needs to come out immediately!

DorotheaPlenticlew Mon 15-Feb-10 15:37:17

Gosh. Nobody has said that to me! Bed rest hmm

It might be a good idea to speak to someone, eg your midwife, about the worries you have since Googling. Can you ring for a chat/ask for a call-back if there's no appt coming up?

Even if the more alarming stuff is deemed very unlikely, I guess you do need to be mentally prepared for the possibility of a section. TBH, even without the placenta issue you can never rule out the unexpected, so no harm trying to wrap your head around it now I suppose. However, I hope for your sake that you will end up with a straightforward birth

I'm sort of leaning towards an elective CS for other reasons after last time, so am less worried about whether the placenta moves (providing I don't have to be confined to my bed -- who would look after DS?!).

Sappholit Mon 15-Feb-10 15:37:44


I have a low-lying placenta, too, though mine is not as severe as yours and finishes 2cms from the cervix.

Like you, I completely freaked myself out by reading about the complications. It wasn't helped by the fact that when I went for an antenatal check at the hospital, the doctor I spoke to (junior) told me I woudl need to be admitted right away, and went into graphic detail about the complications
(which I'm sure you;ve read about). She then went to see the consultant to find out when to admit me, came back and said, 'It's ok. You're fine and can go home. Come back if you start to bleed.'

The next day, I rang the consultant and she was very, very reassuring. The trouble with the stuff you read online is that it only takes you from Stage 1, whihc is placenta previa to stage 10, whihc is dead in a pool of blood, without actually pointing out that there are zillions of things that the docs will do in the meantime to prevent stage 10 from ever happening.

Have you had any bleeding so far in your pregnancy? If not, then the chances of you bleeding severely between now and birth are quite slim. The consultant told me the worst thing that can happen, even in severe cases, is that there is a heavy blood loss which the doctors have to control. But they have lots and lots of strategies in which to do that.

Medics are used to this sort of thing. I know the stats makeit sound like it never, ever happens and that scared me as well, but they do see it frequently and know how to deal with it.

DorotheaPlenticlew Mon 15-Feb-10 15:39:22

"dead in a pool of blood"

lol -- nothing like a spot of Googling to ease the mind! grin

Sappholit Mon 15-Feb-10 15:40:16

PS. If your placenta is covering the cervix, you will definitely need a c-section. It needs to be at least 2.5 cms away to attempt natural birth. I'm booked in for my c-section on Friday.

darentinas Mon 15-Feb-10 15:50:21

Thanks for replies.

Not due to see my midwife til next week, so think I will just stop googling and wait until I see her before panicing even more! I've been very lucky and have had no bleeding at all which is of course reassuring. Have checked my notes and the print out the sonographer gave me and there are no statistics on there about how far the placenta is covering the cervix, when I asked her during the scan she just said it was covering the cervix and hadn't moved at all since the 20 week scan. I assumed then that if it was serious she would have told me to make an appointment with my midwife.

I had a horrendous third degree tear with my first natural birth so in a way a c-section would be quite welcome. I think what scares me the most is all the tales of bleeding to death, placenta abruption etc.

Sappholit Mon 15-Feb-10 15:56:20

The tales about bleeding to death are terrifying, but my consultant said that in her forty-year career, she hasn't once known it happen.

bottomburps Mon 15-Feb-10 16:04:16

I had this, it's called "Placenta Previa", when I had my first child in the late 90s. I was abroad, in Belgium, so the treatment/care I received may be different from what is offered here.

I had a scan at about 6 months and the placenta was very low. I had another scan at 7 months, the placenta hadn't moved. I was told to take it very gently and never to be alone as it was possible that I could have a bleed and have to get to hospital in a hurry.

In the event two weeks later I did have a small bleed in the middle of the night. OH took me straight into hospital and there I remained, after a variety of tests, until my daughter was born, by c-section, at 36 weeks... To have this during a first pregnancy is quite rare but look on the bright side - you get to relax and put your feet up for a while before the birth!

fruitful Mon 15-Feb-10 16:07:13

You're not going to bleed to death. But there might be some blood.

It is still possible that the placenta will move, but really very unlikely. I had the same at a 32 week scan; the consultant said he would "bet money that it won't move". He also booked me in for a cs at 38 weeks, there and then.

I didn't make it that far - I started bleeding at 33 weeks. There was a lot of blood, but it doesn't hurt at all and the first bleed with placenta previa usually stops by itself. I called an ambulance, and went to hospital. I spent 12 hours on the labour ward hooked up to monitors with everyone waiting for the bleeding to properly stop (it kept stopping for a couple of hours and then there'd be another bit). It was all very calm and orderly to be honest. Then I went into labour so they did a cs straight away.

Ds1 spent a week in NICU, a week on the ward with me learning to bf and then we went home. He was 5 on Saturday and is lovely smile.

So my advice is; make sure you have a mobile phone with you whenever you go out. Try not to be alone with your older kids if you have any, or at least have someone who can get to you quickly if necessary. Although they did tell me just to take dd in the ambulance with me if I had to. And pack a hospital bag. I kept mine in the boot of the car.

Oh, and take it easy if you can - definitely no housework grin.

I know it's scary but try not to panic. 32 weeks is a great stage to get to for the baby - it's early but not that early (I had ds2 at 32 weeks). And it may not happen.

fruitful Mon 15-Feb-10 16:09:56

Official info on placenta praevia


Don't be panicked by the bit about maternal death though - I panicked and googled, and they are all women who weren't receiving antenatal care, didn't know they had pp and didn't get to hospital.

darentinas Mon 15-Feb-10 16:21:02

Thanks for the link fruitful and to everyone else for such helpful information.

Guess I'd better get a hospital bag ready have got absolutely nothing for me or the baby yet.

At least now I'm prepared for what happens if I do start bleeding and will make sure to carry my notes with me etc. I'm almost 33 weeks so a good stage to get to.

Good luck to everyone else having similar issues.

Still confused as to why its sometimes referred to as a low lying placenta and other times placenta previa.

Thromdimbulator Mon 15-Feb-10 16:22:42

Can you picture how the placenta 'moves' away from the cervix? The analogy I was given was to imagine drawing two dots very close together on an uninflated balloon. As you blow air into the balloon, the space between the dots increases (although they themselves haven't actually moved at all). At 32 weeks your uterus still has a lot of expanding to do. In addition, I was told that the lower portion of your uterus expands proportionally more in the later stages of pregnancy. This would explain why placentas sometimes wait until the nail-biting 11th hour before moving clear (as mine fortunately did).

No bleeding is a very good sign.

hattyyellow Mon 15-Feb-10 16:27:29

No bleeding is a very good sign. My low lying placenta was spotted at 20 weeks but no one really mentioned it to me! It wasn't until I tried to move the date of my 32 week scan that the midwife got very cross and started emphasising the risks of this low lying placenta I didn't know I had.

Cue mad panic from googling, like you, from me - going round to all the neighbours (we live in the stix) and asking them to be on standby to help with kids/drive me to hospital if I did start bleeding.

36 week scan it had moved. And so many people had said "Oh yes, I had that and it moved in the end".

Not saying therefore yours will move too but it seems to be a very inexact science. My placenta seemed to be covering the os completely which is apparently very bad. But it still moved! I think the last scan was done trans-vaginally which is an awful lot more accurate - have yours so far been through the tummy scans?

Does make sense to have bag packed, childcare arranged, emergency plans in place in case you do bleed. Hope it all works out okay for you.

darentinas Mon 15-Feb-10 16:50:13

Thats very reassuring Hatty! Sonographer did mention that my next scan would be trans-vaginal (eek) didn't realise that this is because its more accurate than an ultrasound.

Sappholit Tue 16-Feb-10 10:26:23

Really don't worry about the trans-vaginal scan. I've had two and they're fine.

I have never said 'vagina' on a forum before.

AntPants1 Tue 16-Feb-10 11:30:20

Could all be fine

At my 20 week scan I was told my placenta was overlapping my cervix- so not completely covering it but still very low.

I had a follow up scan at 32 weeks where my placenta was no longer over any part of my cervix but was only 1.2 cm away from the os - at my hospital it needs to be 2cm clear otherwise a CS.

I had a final scan at 36 weeks and placenta was over 3cm away from os so I have been given the all clear to go for a natural birth (I am 38 weeks).

At my 32 and 36 week scans they did scans of my cervix transvaginally- was fine - no worse than an very easy smear.

At both scans they also carefully checked my placenta and cord to ensure all was working fine- they are.

So just to let you know although my placenta was not totally covering my cervix it was overlapping it and although it took its nailbiting time to move, it did.

As for all the scary stuff I agree with the other posters this is for women who are not diagnosed. You have been so know to have you bag packed and not to delay if any hint of a bleed...

All the best



DorotheaPlenticlew Tue 16-Feb-10 16:59:27

This is all really interesting but it does make me wonder why, when 32 weeks appears to be the usual time for a follow-up scan, I am not having mine until 36 weeks ...

Also a little surprised that nobody mentioned anything about the risks to me; they only said that I'd need a follow-up scan, as CS would be required if it didn't move. The sonographer was very unbothered about it (in a nice way) and the subsequent routine GP appt I had didn't cover the issue at all. If I had a minor bleed and hadn't read this thread, I wouldn't have really thought that much of it tbh -- would have probably got checked out but not super-urgently, IYSWIM.

Ah well. Will maybe bring it up next time I see MW (Monday).

Sappholit Tue 16-Feb-10 18:03:40

I had the same - no one told me how seriosu the condition was/could be, and I had no idea. I was even given a fitness to fly certificate from my doctor at 31 weeks so I could go to Thailand. I sort of shudder to think what could have happened had I been a serious case.

I think it's because the majority of cases move - they prob don't want to worry people. And from what I can gather, it seems to be only a minority of women who do have seriosu probs with bleeding.

moocowme Tue 16-Feb-10 21:02:13

by all acounts you will probably be fine BUT you must take it seriously if it is across the cervix.

when i had mine i did some research and foud a paper (can't find it now!!) bascialy 80% of women with grade III or VI will have some bleeding. if this happens it is a medical emergency and you must get medical care within 20mins.

always carry a phone, let people know where you are going and stop having sex wink

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