In the early stages of pregnancy, as the embryo settles into the uterus, the placenta usually forms in the upper portion of the uterus. This area is called the fundus. With a lowlying placenta, however, the placenta forms in a lower portion of the uterus. This is a problem only if the placenta covers all or part of the cervix. If the entire cervix is covered, the condition is called placenta previa. It is not safe to deliver the baby vaginally when the mother has placenta previa, since the passing of the placenta first could cause serious bleeding in both mom and baby. In this case, a cesarean is needed. Generally, however, a low-lying placenta moves up and away from the cervix as the uterus expands. Although the placenta is attached to the uterine wall, the expanding uterine muscle shifts the placenta upward.
Because a low-lying placenta can cause bleeding, your doctor may have already placed you on “pelvic rest.” You will have an ultrasound scan later in your pregnancy to determine where your placenta is positioned. If it is out of the way of the cervix, you can resume your normal activities, including sex, and you can expect to deliver your baby safely vaginally.
Back to Ask Tori »
Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.
© Copyright 2011-2012 The Harvard Common Press. All Rights Reserved. | Press Inquiry