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Placenta previa

The placenta is a structure that develops inside your uterus during pregnancy, providing
oxygen and nutrition to and removing wastes from your baby. The placenta connects to
your baby through the umbilical cord. In most pregnancies, the placenta attaches at the
top or side of the uterus.

Placenta previa (pluh-SEN-tuh PREH-vee-uh) occurs when a baby's placenta partially

or totally covers the mother's cervix — the outlet for the uterus. Placenta previa can
cause severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery.
If you have placenta previa, you might bleed throughout your pregnancy and during
your delivery. Your health care provider will recommend avoiding activities that might
cause contractions, including having sex, douching, using tampons, or engaging in
activities that can increase your risk of bleeding, such as running, squatting, and

You'll need a C-section to deliver your baby if the placenta previa doesn't resolve.


Bright red vaginal bleeding without pain during the second half of pregnancy is the main
sign of placenta previa. Some women also have contractions.

In many women diagnosed with placenta previa early in their pregnancies, the placenta
previa resolves. As the uterus grows, it might increase the distance between the cervix
and the placenta. The more the placenta covers the cervix and the later in the
pregnancy that it remains over the cervix, the less likely it is to resolve.

When to see a doctor

If you have vaginal bleeding during your second or third trimester, call your doctor right
away. If the bleeding is severe, seek emergency medical care.

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic


The exact cause of placenta previa is unknown.

Risk factors

Placenta previa is more common among women who:

 Have had a baby

 Have scars on the uterus, such as from previous surgery, including cesarean
deliveries, uterine fibroid removal, and dilation and curettage
 Had placenta previa with a previous pregnancy

 Are carrying more than one fetus

 Are age 35 or older

 Are of a race other than white

 Smoke

 Use cocaine


If you have placenta previa, your health care provider will monitor you and your baby to
reduce the risk of these serious complications:

 Bleeding. Severe, possibly life-threatening vaginal bleeding (hemorrhage) can

occur during labor, delivery or in the first few hours after delivery.

 Preterm birth. Severe bleeding may prompt an emergency C-section before your
baby is full term.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic
Diagnosis & treatment
March 06, 2018
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 Pregnancy spacing
 High-risk pregnancy
 Pregnancy due date calculator
 Twin pregnancy
 Placenta
 Smoking and pregnancy
 Pregnancy bed rest
 High blood pressure and pregnancy
 Vaginal bleeding

Placenta previa

 Symptoms & causes

 Diagnosis & treatment
 Doctors & departments