It's natural to worry about all aspects of your pregnancy. After all, your top priority is to ensure the health of this sweet little thing growing inside you. So if you've been told you have an anterior placenta, you're probably wondering what that means and if it could pose a threat to the baby. Fortunately, rest assured that this scientific-sounding term simply means your placenta is positioned in front of the baby. In general, it's nothing to worry about. Still, it's a good idea to educate yourself about the changes that are occurring in your body. Ready to learn more about how an anterior placenta affects pregnancy and childbirth? Here's what you need to know.
In this article:
What is the anterior placenta?
How an anterior placenta affects pregnancy
How an anterior placenta affects childbirth
Risks of the anterior placenta
What is the anterior placenta?
IsplacentaIt is an organ that develops during pregnancy. Together with the umbilical cord, it provides the baby with oxygen, nutrients and hormones and helps remove waste. As the baby grows in the first few weeks of pregnancy, the placenta grows too. It can develop anywhere in the uterus and even change position during pregnancy. When the placenta is at the front of the uterus, it is called the "anterior placenta." It's completely normal, he says.Hebra Eric, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist and associate professor at the University of Washington. "The placenta normally grows along the anterior (front) wall, posterior (back) wall, or top (fundus) of the uterus."
How common is anterior placenta?
All of the above placenta positions are considered normal and safe. However, if your placenta has been positioned in front of the baby, you may be wondering, "How common is the anterior placenta?" It is estimated that 33 to 50 percent of pregnancies have an anterior placenta. However, the placenta can migrate and this position is somewhat less typical towards the end of pregnancy.
Anterior versus posterior placenta
If you have an anterior placenta, the organ has developed on the front wall of the uterus closest to your stomach. On the other hand, a posterior placenta means that it grows on the wall of the uterus closest to the spine.
You may hear your gynecologist mention some other keywords related to the position of your placenta: "Fundal" means towards the top of your uterus and "lateral" means on one side. Most doctors will tell you that none of these positions are cause for concern. However, if they mention that you have a low placenta or placenta previa, that can be a red flag (more on that later).
How is the anterior placenta diagnosed?
Wondering how do you know if you have an anterior placenta? Ultrasound is the best way to diagnose the condition. In themUltrasound in mid-pregnancy, your doctor or ultrasound technician can see the position of your placenta and tell you that it will grow in front of the baby.
How Does Anterior Placenta Affect Your Pregnancy?
Having an anterior placenta is generally considered harmless, but if you've been pregnant with a different placenta position before, there are a few things that may look a little different this time.
Many women wonder if this position of the uterus affects the appearance of their baby's abdomen, but no, there isn't a specific shape of the anterior placental abdomen, she says.Brise Bartos, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist and medical director of Be. Women's Health and Wellness in Frisco, Texas. You can't spot an anterior placenta just by a pregnant belly. (An ultrasound is required to confirm an anterior placenta.) It's true that there is an extra layer of cushion when the placenta is in the front of the body, but it doesn't increase the size of the bulge.
How does a preplacenta actually affect pregnancy? Here are some things to be aware of, as well as some minor anterior placenta risks to be aware of.
feel fetal movement
There is nothing more exciting than feeling thisfirst little steps. But if you have an anterior placenta, you may have to wait a little longer for this important milestone. How does the baby's movement with the front placenta feel? "It can be harder for a mother to initially feel the movement of the baby with an earlier placenta," says Strand. "Essentially, it's an extra layer of protection between the baby and the mother."
While most expectant mothers can start feeling baby kicks between 18 and 20 weeks, you may not notice it until closer to 20 or 22 weeks, especially if you don't know what they feel like. Bartos says that an anterior placenta essentially has a cushioning effect. She had an earlier placenta in her own pregnancies and says the position also made it harder for her partner to feel any outside kicks or movements.
However, if you're having trouble seeing movement and are concerned, trust your gut and call your doctor. There's nothing wrong with being checked out.
Detection of the fetal heartbeat
Typically, your doctor will assess your baby's heart rate using fetal Doppler or ultrasound at each visit beginning at week 10. As the weeks go by, your doctor will find it easier to find your heartbeat. But if you have an anterior placenta, you may be more likely to hear a muffled "hiss," Bartos says.
Get diagnostic tests
AmniocentesisIt is a procedure performed to detect abnormalities in the fetus. However, it may be a little more difficult for your doctor to do this test if your placenta is early; This is because the needle used to draw amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac has to work around the placenta. Fortunately, with today's advanced ultrasound equipment, this is considered little more than a minor inconvenience.
Premature placenta shedding
Your doctor will not be concerned about the anterior or posterior position of your placenta. However, you can be warned if your placenta is in a low position. This is known asprevious placenta, a relatively rare condition affecting about 1 in 200 pregnancies.
Anterior placenta previa means that the placenta is positioned in front of the uterus but also covers all or part of the cervix. (It's important to note that placenta previa can also occur with a posterior placenta; it has nothing to do with your placenta being anterior.)
If you are told you have anterior placenta previa, your doctor will likely wait and see, as the condition often corrects itself over the course of pregnancy. "Throughout pregnancy, the placenta normally moves away from the cervix, so while a low placenta is fairly common at the time of anatomical examination (5 to 10 percent of the time), it resolves on its own about 95 percent of the time . says Strang.
If it stays firmly low over the weeks and your due date is approaching, your doctor will likely discuss the possible need for a scheduled cesarean to ensure the health and safety of you and your baby. A vaginal delivery with placenta previa can be dangerous and cause bleeding.
How does the placenta antepartum affect?
When it's finally time to meet the baby, your previous placenta probably won't affect the big day very much. Strand says, "We do not currently believe that an earlier placenta has a negative impact on pregnancy outcome or the birth path."
Another small onelearnindicated that an anterior placenta may increase the need for induction, cesarean section, or manual removal of the placenta. However, it is worth noting that the researchers could not find a clear reason for this correlation, so further follow-up is needed.
Risks of the anterior placenta
"I think the biggest risk with the anterior placenta is that the mother gets used to the baby not moving as much. So if there's a problem with the baby, she might not be able to spot it as easily," Bartos says. Despite this, mothers with anterior placenta do not receive oneNon-Stress Testsor more tests, he adds.
As for other potential risks, a 2013learnsuggested a slightly higher incidence of certain pregnancy complications, including:
- Pregnancy-induced hypotension
- gestational diabetes
- Placental solution
- Intrauterine growth restriction
While these alleged anterior placental risks and complications may sound alarming, it's important to note that this research has only looked at about 500 cases, and many more mothers with anterior placenta have had healthy pregnancies and births. “Almost a third of all women have an anterior placenta. So if there were any major problems or risks, they would be very obvious,” says Bartos. The comforting truth is that an anterior placenta is considered fairly benign.
Now that you know more about the position of the placenta, you can relax and focus on maintaining the health of you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. Most doctors would confidently tell you that the risks of an anterior placenta are small. You may have to wait a little longer to feel those precious kicks and elbows! Of course, if you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.
About the experts:
Brise Bartos,MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist and medical director of Be. Women's Health and Wellness in Frisco, Texas. A Navy Veteran, she served wives and spouses in the Washington, D.C. Armed Forces for 12 years. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas at Houston.
Hebra Eric,MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist and associate professor at the University of Washington. He received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Please Note: The Bump and the materials and information contained herein are not intended and should not be relied upon as health or medical advice or diagnosis. You should always consult a qualified physician or healthcare professional regarding your specific circumstances.
Plus, more from The Bump:
Placenta accreta: what it means for mom and baby
How to relieve leg cramps during pregnancy
11 Pregnancy Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore