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What is placental abruption?

As a mother-to-be in South Carolina, you likely spend a good deal of time thinking about the health, safety and welfare of your developing baby. You also likely do everything possible to ensure that both (s)he and you have everything needed for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. No matter how careful you are, however, once you reach your third trimester, be on the lookout for placental abruption

Placental abruption is a reasonably rare but serious pregnancy complication wherein the placenta detaches from your uterine wall prematurely, thereby depriving your baby of the oxygen and nutrients (s)he needs. At this point both you and (s)he face grave danger.

Placental abruption symptoms

While placental abruption usually results from an injury to your abdominal area, it also can occur spontaneously and for no apparent reason. Call 911 immediately and request emergency medical assistance should you exhibit any of the following symptoms during your third trimester:

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Unusual uterine firmness
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Premature contractions, especially if they are rapid

Be aware that you will not necessarily experience vaginal bleeding during a placental abruption. If you do not, the reason is that the blood becomes trapped in your uterus.

Risk factors

Your risk of placental abruption increases under the following circumstances:

  • You smoke, drink alcohol or use illicit drugs
  • You sustain an abdominal injury
  • You suffer from high blood pressure
  • You are an older mother
  • You are carrying twins
  • You had a placental abruption during a previous pregnancy

As with any pregnancy issue, your best strategy for preventing placental abruption is to schedule frequent appointments with your OB/GYN, refrain from alcohol or drug usage, including tobacco, while pregnant, and wear your seat belt and/or shoulder restraint every time you get into a vehicle.

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