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What is placental abruption?

As a New York expectant mother, your growing baby’s health, safety and welfare is your main concern. You do everything possible to see to it that (s)he – and you – have everything you both need to assure a healthy pregnancy and successful delivery. As you move into your third trimester, however, pay particular attention to any signs of placental abruption.

Although a reasonably rare occurrence, placental abruption happens when the placenta separates from the inner wall of your uterus. Since your baby receives his or her oxygen and nutrients from the placenta, he or she faces grave danger of receiving too little of both. You likewise face grave risk of injury.

Symptoms of placental abruption

Placental abruption can occur suddenly and for no apparent reason. You need to seek immediate emergency medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden vaginal bleeding
  • Sudden pain in your abdomen or back
  • Sudden uterine tenderness or firmness
  • Sudden contractions, which may be quite rapid

Sometimes in a placental abruption you have little or no vaginal bleeding. This is because the blood can get trapped inside your uterus.

Risk factors for placental abruption

The most common cause of placental abruption is an abdominal injury and/or trauma, often the result of a vehicle accident or fall. Other causes include the following:

  • If you smoke and/or use drugs
  • If you have hypertension, a/k/a high blood pressure
  • If you develop chorioamnionitis, a uterine infection
  • If you are carrying twins, triplets or more babies
  • If you are an older mother, especially over the age of 40
  • If you had a placental abruption in a previous pregnancy

The most important steps you can take to prevent placental abruption are to never smoke or take drugs, particularly cocaine. In addition, you should always wear a seat belt and shoulder strap while riding in a vehicle.

You also should see your OB/GYN physician or other health care provider on a regular basis and report any unusual symptoms you experience, even if you think they are minor and therefore unimportant. They may not be, but it's always safest to receive a full examination. If you report symptoms and a doctor fails to diagnose placental abruption or any other complication, it may be cause to file a malpractice lawsuit.

Nothing is more joyful and exciting than the birth of a healthy baby. The care you take during your long months of pregnancy will be more than rewarded when you see your beautiful new child.

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