Many people enjoy a visit to an amusement park. The roller coasters and other rides give them a thrill. However, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid such experiences. The rapid stops and starts and jarring movement which riders look forward to can put mother and baby at risk. Although there are no studies to confirm it, it is thought that such rigorous activity can lead to placental abruption – the premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus.
Why the Placenta is So Important and Abruption is so Serious
The placenta connects the fetus to the uterus and it provides the baby with nutrients, blood, and oxygen. It is also how the baby gets rid of waste. In most cases, the placenta remains attached to the upper section of the uterine wall. However, sometimes it detaches. Usually, only a small portion comes away but sometimes the placenta comes away entirely, typically in the last trimester.
Placental abruption can cause serious problems. The baby gets fewer nutrients and reduced oxygen and this can mean they fail to grow properly. Sometimes, the condition can even be fatal. The mother may also lose lots of blood.
Causes of Placental Abruption
No one knows for sure exactly what causes placental abruption. However, some risk factors have been identified. They include:
- Heart disease
- Alcohol or drug use
- An injury to the abdomen
- Sudden high blood pressure
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Being African American
- Being over 40
Signs and Symptoms
Painful contractions and vaginal bleeding are the most common symptoms. If you use the Bloomlife smart pregnancy wearable, you may have a record of your contractions to show your doctor. Bleeding may vary depending on how much of the placenta has detached. You may not even notice bleeding if the blood stays between the uterine wall and placenta.
With a slight separation, you may notice light bleeding, cramps and a tenderness in your belly. Moderate separation may result in heavier bleeding and more severe pain. If more than half the placenta detaches, you may experience contractions along with pain and bleeding. The baby may also become more or less active than usual.
Treatment of Placental Abruption
When you go to your doctor, he will examine you and monitor your contractions and how the baby is responding. He may also do an ultrasound to check your placenta. The baby’s heart rate and rhythm will also be checked.
If your placental abruption is minor, you may only need to go on bed rest to bring the bleeding to a stop. Most women can go back to their normal activities after a few days. For moderate separations, pregnant women will need to stay in hospital. This allows doctors to better monitor the baby. If the baby appears to be distressed, labor may be induced. Some women need a blood transfusion. Severe abruption is definitely an emergency and you will need to deliver immediately, likely via C-section.
There is no way to definitively prevent placental abruption. However, you can try to keep risk factors like diabetes and hypertension under control and stay away from drugs. You can also stay away from potentially risky behaviors like riding rollercoasters. Follow your doctor’s recommendations as closely as possible to prevent this serious condition.