The placenta plays an important role in pregnancy, but there are serious issues that can develop if there are problems with it. The placenta forms when a woman becomes pregnant. It attaches to the uterus and carries nutrition and oxygen to the developing baby through the umbilical cord. After the baby is born, the placenta detaches and passes through the birth canal. Unfortunately, things don't always happen as they should.
Medical professionals who are dealing with pregnant women during labor and delivery should be watchful for signs that there are problems with the placenta. In many cases, pregnancy loss and risks to the woman can be minimized when these issues are found and addressed quickly. Below are some common problems to watch for:
- Chorioamnionitis: This is an infection in the amniotic fluid. Antibiotics and prompt delivery are usually required. In many cases, this is caused when bacteria move from the vagina into the cervix.
- Placental abruption: This occurs when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus before the baby is born. This can kill the baby and might also kill the mother due to rapid blood loss. The only way to address this issue is delivering the baby immediately. This is an emergency.
- Placenta accreta: This condition happens when the placenta embeds itself too deeply into the uterus. This can be life-threatening and will likely require surgical intervention to remove it. It isn't likely going to detach itself after the baby is born. In the most severe cases, a hysterectomy is necessary.
- Placenta previa: This condition turns a pregnancy into a high-risk event. It occurs when the placenta covers the cervix. There are different grades of this condition, which are gauged on how much of the cervix is covered. It is sometimes possible that the placenta will migrate higher into the uterus, but a surgical delivery is required if the cervix remains blocked to any degree.
Women who have problems with their placenta must receive specialized care. When they receive substandard care, serious consequences to them or their babies can occur. These might lead to malpractice claims due to the disastrous outcomes.