Placental Insufficiency: Care Instructions

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The placenta is a large organ that forms in your uterus when you are pregnant. It supplies your baby with nutrients and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

The placenta does not always develop normally. This can mean that the placenta is too small, too thick, or too thin. Or it may not be attached well to the uterus. If the placenta is not normal, your baby may not get the needed food and oxygen.

Your doctor will watch your baby's growth and health during your pregnancy. You may have ultrasound tests to give you and your doctor information about your baby's growth. Your doctor may advise you to follow a plan to help you have a healthy baby.

If your doctor thinks that your baby's health is at risk, you may have an early delivery.

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?

  • Go to all your prenatal visits. Your doctor will check you and your baby's health and your baby's growth.
  • If you smoke or vape, quit or cut back as much as you can. This can harm the baby's growth and health. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Your doctor may ask you to count your baby's movements, such as kicks, flutters, or rolls. If your doctor tells you to, time how long it takes to count 10 movements once per day. If you don't feel at least 10 movements in 2 hours, call your doctor.
  • Follow your doctor's general advice for how to take care of yourself during pregnancy. Rest when you need it, eat a variety of healthy foods, and drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. It's safest not to use them at all. Talk to your doctor if you need help decreasing your use.

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?

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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.