Pregnancy Home > Placental Abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before the baby is delivered. This can cause a severe loss of blood for both the mother and the baby, as well as a loss of oxygen for the baby. In serious cases, a cesarean section is usually recommended.

What Is Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption can cause bleeding during mid-to-late pregnancy or during childbirth. This happens when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus prior to the delivery of the baby. Placental abruption can happen in about 1 in every 150 pregnancies. Some cases are more serious than others. The most common causes of placental abruption are:
Women who develop this condition are monitored closely during their pregnancy. The most common symptoms of placental abruption include constant, severe uterine pain and vaginal bleeding.

Delivery Risks Associated With Placental Abruption

In some cases, the bleeding stops on its own and the placenta doesn't continue to separate from the wall of the uterus. If the placental abruption is not serious and the baby is able to develop to full term, a vaginal delivery may be possible.
However, if the placental abruption is serious and the placenta continues to pull away from the wall of the uterus, this can cause the placenta and uterus to bleed. The mother and baby may both lose a critical amount of blood. If this happens, the baby may also become seriously deprived of oxygen.
For serious cases of placental abruption, a cesarean section may be considered safer and is usually recommended.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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