Placental detachment

Placental abruption also known as placental abruption is a medical emergency during pregnancy where the placenta partially or completely detaches from the uterine wall before delivery.

What is a placenta?

Placenta is an important and unique organ that develops during pregnancy. It serves several crucial functions related to the development of the fetus and protects its well-being. Here are some key facts about the placenta:

  • Origin and Development: The placenta develops in the womb when a woman becomes pregnant. It is formed from cells derived from both the embryo's original zygotic cells and the mother's uterine tissue.

  • Physical description: The placenta is a flat, fleshy disk that is attached in the wall of the uterus. It is filled with blood vessels and connected to the umbilical cord of the fetus.

  • Necessities and oxygen: The placenta acts as a necessity organ for the unborn child. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to the fetus through the mother's bloodstream.

  • Waste products: The placenta also removes waste products from the fetus's bloodstream and eliminates them through the mother's blood.

  • Protective barrier: The placenta acts as a barrier that protects the fetus against certain harmful substances such as certain bacteria and viruses. It filters and regulates what enters the fetal bloodstream.

  • Endocrine organ: The placenta produces hormones including hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and progesterone that are important to maintain the pregnancy and support fetal growth.

  • Removal: After birth, the placenta is naturally removed from the uterus, usually as part of the postpartum period.

The placenta is essential to support the needs of the growing fetus during pregnancy and acts as a physiological link between the mother and the baby.

What is a placental abruption?

Placental abruption means that all or part of the placenta detaches prematurely. It usually happens towards the end of pregnancy or during childbirth. It is uncommon but can be serious and even life-threatening for both you and the fetus. Sometimes the detachment leads to premature labor and fetal death. Placental abruption is called abruptio placentae in Latin.

Symptoms of placental abruption

The symptoms of placental abruption can vary in severity but they often include the following:

  • Severe abdominal pain: Pain in the lower abdomen may be the most obvious and serious symptom. The pain can be sudden, sharp and intense.

  • Vaginal bleeding: Bleeding from the vagina is common with placental abruption. The blood may be dark or light red and may be heavy or in smaller amounts.

  • Increased uterine tone: The uterus may feel very tense or stiff when touched the. This is due to blood pooling between the placenta and the uterine wall.

  • Increased heart rate: Your heart rate may increase if you suffer from placental abruption especially if it leads to shock .

  • Dizziness and fainting: The loss of blood due to placental abruption can lead to dizziness, fainting or unconsciousness.

It is important to note that the symptoms of placental abruption can vary from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy. Some women may experience all of these symptoms, while others may have only a few of them.

Treatment of placental abruption:

If the placenta is about to detach, prompt hospitalization and appropriate treatment is required. Treatment measures vary depending on the severity and stage of pregnancy:

When the urgency is acute: In emergency cases where the placental abruption is significant and there is a high risk of blood loss and lack of oxygen to the fetus, an immediate emergency caesarean section becomes necessary. After birth, the baby may need a blood transfusion if it suffers from anemia. In addition, the mother may need treatment with drugs to manage possible anemia after delivery.

When the urgency is less apparent: In situations where the delivery is less extensive and the fetus is stable, a less urgent strategy used. In the case of a partially detached placenta before week 36 of pregnancy, you may have to wait for delivery and stay in the hospital for monitoring. This decision is made by doctors after careful assessment of risks and benefits. As the fetus's lungs may still be immature, it may be beneficial to wait for a more suitable time for delivery. If the condition improves and the bleeding subsides, you may even be able to go home again, but with regular examinations to monitor the placenta. Sometimes medicines can prevent labor pains and stimulate the maturation of the fetus's lungs.