The placenta forms during pregnancy. It gives the baby nutrients and oxygen. It also removes waste products. Normally, the placenta attaches to the inner wall of the uterus, away from the opening of the uterus. Sometimes the placenta attaches so low that it blocks all or part of the opening. This is called placenta previa.
Your doctor may recommend that you limit your activities. Your doctor will watch you closely until your baby can be safely delivered. Most of the time a cesarean delivery is done.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Do not do any heavy activity. Do not run or lift anything that weighs more than 20 pounds.
- Have a phone nearby at all times. If you start to bleed, you will need to call your doctor right away.
- Tell all doctors and nurses who examine you that you must not have pelvic exams because you have placenta previa.
- Ask your doctor if you can have vaginal sex. Many doctors recommend that people with placenta previa not have vaginal sex after 28 weeks of pregnancy.
- Do not put anything, such as tampons or douches, into your vagina. Use pads if you are bleeding, and call your doctor right away.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means you are soaking through a pad each hour for 2 or more hours.
- You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have any vaginal bleeding.
- You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
- You have pain in your belly, pelvis, or lower back.
- You think that you are in labor.
- You have a sudden release of fluid from your vagina.
- You've been having regular contractions for an hour. This means that you've had at least 8 contractions within 1 hour or at least 4 contractions within 20 minutes, even after you change your position and drink fluids.
- You notice that your baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter A070 in the search box to learn more about "Placenta Previa: Care Instructions".
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine