What Happens if You Have Placenta Previa?

What is it?

Placenta previa is when the placenta is partially or completely covering the opening of the cervix inside the uterus.


What causes it?

People who have had a baby before, or have scarring on their uterus are more likely to have placenta previa.



Some pregnant people experience painless bleeding after 20 weeks. If you have any bleeding during your pregnancy, let your LMC know right away.

Many people do not experience any symptoms.


How is it diagnosed?

A low-lying placenta is first picked up during an early ultrasound scan, like the anatomy scan at 20 weeks. A follow-up scan is usually recommended at 32 weeks to check the position of the placenta and see if it has moved away from the cervix with the development of pregnancy.



If you have heavy bleeding, you may be admitted to the hospital for additional monitoring. Some people are prescribed bed rest.


What does this mean for my pregnancy?

You are more likely to need to deliver the baby via a planned C-section as the placenta is in the way of the baby being born vaginally. Your baby may need to be delivered early if their health or safety is at risk.

If you have had placenta previa in a past pregnancy, there is a 2-3% chance that it will reoccur.

If you are under the care of a lead maternity carer midwife and need to be referred to specialist care for any pregnancy condition this will be free. In most circumstances, your midwife will continue to be your lead maternity carer, but occasionally a full transfer of care is necessary. A discussion between your midwife and your specialist will take place before this happens.