The placenta is an organ that nourishes the baby in the womb. Placental abruption is when it parts from the womb before a baby is born.
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Sometimes the cause it not clear. Other times it may be due to:
- Rupture of an artery or vein in the uterus which causes bleeding between the placenta and the uterine wall
- Problems with how the placenta forms
- Low oxygen levels in the uterus
- Injury to the belly from an accident or a fall
- Sudden decrease in the volume of the uterus, from losing amniotic fluid or from
the delivery of a first twin
This health problem is more common in older mothers.
Factors that may raise your risk are:
- Prior abruption
- Multiple prior deliveries
- Drug misuse, especially cocaine
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
High blood pressure
- Being pregnant with multiples
- Prior cesarean section (C-section)
In the early stages, you may not have symptoms. If you do, you may have:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Belly pain
- Back pain
- Rapid contractions
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A pelvic exam will also be done.
You may have:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. You may have:
Fluids may be given by IV to replace lost fluids. Blood transfusions
may also be given to replace lost blood supply.
You and your fetus will be carefully monitored for signs of distress or shock.
If you or your fetus are in danger, an emergency
will be done. If you and your fetus are at low risk of problems and your fetus is full-term, then you may
Do not take drugs or smoke during pregnancy.
If you have this health problem before, your doctor will watch you closely if you become pregnant again.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)
Bleeding in pregnancy, placenta previa, placental abruption. Stanford Children's Health website.
Accessed August 8, 2018.
Neilson JP. Interventions for treating placental abruption.
Cochrane Database for Syst Rev.
Placental abruption. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116309/Placental-abruption#Prevention-and-Screening. Updated November 4, 2016. Accessed August 8, 2018.
Placental abruption: Abruptio placentae. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/placental-abruption. Updated May 2, 2017. Accessed August 8, 2018.
Tikkanen M. Etiology, clinical manifestations, and prediction of placental abruption.
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2010;89(6):732-740.
Last reviewed June 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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