Placental Abruption: Care Instructions

Skip Navigation


The placenta forms during pregnancy to give nutrients and oxygen to the baby. It also removes waste products. Normally, the placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus until the baby is born. Sometimes, the placenta separates from the uterus before birth. This is called placental abruption. It also may be called placenta abruptio.

Your doctor will watch your condition closely to make sure you and your baby are okay. A minor abruption can sometimes be watched closely until delivery. But any bleeding or pain during pregnancy is cause for concern. Call your doctor if you have any bleeding or pain. Sometimes a cesarean delivery must be 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.
  • Do not smoke. It can limit the blood flow to your baby. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Ask your doctor whether you can have vaginal sex.
  • Do not put anything into your vagina.
  • Have a phone nearby at all times in case you begin to bleed and need to 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

Enter U348 in the search box to learn more about "Placental Abruption: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.