Placental abruption

Parentree-editors 2008-09-01 22:39:37

This is a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterus, before delivery. Placenta is the organ that connects the mother and the baby.  It supplies oxygen and nutrients to the baby and transfers waste products from the baby to the mother. The placenta is essentially your baby’s lifeline. If the placenta is not connecting to the baby, then the baby gets deprived of oxygen.

Placental abruption typically happens in 1% of pregnancies.


When the separation is minor, the bleeding is like your menstrual bleeding and there is cramping similar to your menstrual cramps.

When the separation is moderate, bleeding is heavier and the abdominal pain may be more severe, coming partly from strong contractions of the uterus.

With severe separation, more than half of the placenta separates from the uterus and this poses an emergency for the mother and the baby


Placental abruption can be confirmed by an ultrasound scan.


In placental abruption, it’s not that the whole placenta is separating from the uterus but only parts of it are separating.  The more the separation of the placenta from the uterus, the more the woman will bleed and lesser placenta will be there to supply the baby with baby with oxygen. When you rest a lot, it makes up for the loss of oxygen because of uterine separation and helps to supply adequate oxygen to the baby.

When the separation is minor, the woman is advised bed rest that usually helps to stop the bleeding. Then you can be on semi bed rest.

When the separation is moderate, the mother is put on bed rest and both the baby and the mother are monitored closely.

Effects on the baby

With expert and prompt medical care, many women with placental abruptions can safely deliver healthy babies.

But severe bleeding or excessive separation may result in foetal distress and the baby may have to be delivered prematurely.

In 95% of  pregnancies with placental abruption,  the babies survived though they were at risk of other events like preterm delivery (40% chance), low birth weight (35% chance) and growth restriction (14% chance), according to one study1.


1. Cande V. Ananth; Gertrud S. Berkowitz; David A. Savitz; Robert H. Lapinski, "Placental Abruption and Adverse Perinatal Outcomes",JAMA. 1999;282(17):1646-1651


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