Pregnancy Problems

Placenta Accreta

Could you be at risk for placenta accreta? If you have it, how can you keep yourself and baby from harm? We've got the answers.

What is placenta accreta?

Your placenta is meant to be lightly attached to the walls of your uterus. But in some relatively rare cases, the placenta becomes embedded too deeply into the uterine wall. When that happens, it’s known as placenta accreta.

What are the signs of placenta accreta?

It’s hard to diagnose placenta accreta by symptoms alone, because oftentimes there aren’t any. Your doctor may first notice the condition on a routine ultrasound exam.

Are there any tests for placenta accreta?

An ultrasound is the best way for your doctor to determine whether your placenta is abnormally attached to the uterus.

How common is placenta accreta?

The condition is relatively rare — occurring in about 1 out of every 2,500 pregnancies.

How did I develop placenta accreta?

You’re at increased risk for placenta accreta if you’ve had a number of c-sections or if the placenta is lying very low in the uterus (a condition known as placenta previa).

How will placenta accreta affect my baby?

Typically placenta accreta won’t have any negative impact on your baby’s development, although it does carry some increased risk of premature delivery. But it’s when push comes to shove (literally) that the problems occur, because it’s very hard for the placenta to separate from the uterine wall. This can cause severe and dangerous bleeding during delivery.

What’s the best way to treat placenta accreta?

All you really have to do is keep up with your OB visits so that you get good prenatal care. Your doctor will be prepared for a tricky delivery (and you can almost certainly expect a c-section). In some cases, you may be given a complete hysterectomy at the time of delivery in order to prevent a severe, life-threatening hemorrhage.

What can I do to prevent placenta accreta?

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done in the way of prevention. If you’ve had the condition before, or had multiple c-sections, be aware that there’s an increased risk of it occurring again with a future pregnancy.  

Are there any other resources for placenta accreta?
 
March of Dimes

Plus, more from The Bump:

Placental Problems During Pregnancy

What to Expect From a C-Section

Are you at risk for preterm labor?

By C. Joseph Cadle, MD, ob-gyn, Kaiser Permanente, Atlanta, GA