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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Placental Abruption

Answers to all your questions about placental abruption.

What is placental abruption?

The placenta is your baby’s life support system, and it’s meant to stay attached to the uterus right up through delivery. In a placental abruption, the placenta separates away from the wall of the uterus, disrupting the flow of oxygen and important nutrients from you to your baby.

What are the signs of a placental abruption?

Abdominal pain, back pain, frequent uterine contractions (or contractions without any break in between) and vaginal bleeding are all signs of an abruption.

Are there any tests for a placental abruption?

If your doctor suspects you have placental abruption, she’ll likely order an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound, as well as fetal monitoring and blood tests.

How common is a placental abruption?

The condition (either partial or full tear) occurs in about 1 out of 100 to 150 deliveries. The more severe form (a full tear) occurs in about 1 out of 800 to 1,600 deliveries.

How did I get a placental abruption?

The exact cause can be difficult to determine, but a direct trauma to the abdomen (such as in an automobile accident or a fall) can cause the placenta to tear from the uterine wall. Other risk factors include diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, cocaine use or drinking more than 14 alcoholic beverages a week during pregnancy, as well as an older maternal age, a large number of previous deliveries, uterine fibroids or increased uterine distention (which can happen if you’re carrying multiples or have a large volume of amniotic fluid).

How will my placental abruption affect my baby?

A placental abruption is a true obstetrical emergency, and it can result in death for the baby -- and in some instances (excessive blood loss, hidden uterine bleeding), the mother. So seek medical help immediately (see next page for treatments).

-- Robert Wool, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts University


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