Placental Abruption – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

March 28, 2024

Placental Abruption – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
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Placental Abruption

A rare pregnancy problem that can harm both the mother and the unborn child is placental abruption. Expectant mothers should be able to understand and acquire in-depth knowledge about placental abruption. 

This article will help you to learn more about placental abruption symptoms, its causes, diagnosis, and frequently asked queries about placental abruption.

What is Placental Abruption?

Placental abruption is a rare yet dangerous pregnancy condition. During pregnancy, the placenta grows inside the uterus. It provides nutrition and oxygen to the developing embryo by attaching to the wall of the uterus.

A placenta that partially or completely separates from the uterine wall before delivery is a placental abruption. This may reduce or obstruct the baby’s oxygen and nutrition supply and result in blood loss in the mother’s body. 

Types of Placental Abruption

This illness develops usually after the 20th week of pregnancy, usually in the third trimester, and strikes unexpectedly during birth. It causes the baby to be deprived of oxygen and nutrients, and it can cause the mother to bleed severely, putting her life in danger and raising the likelihood of kidney failure. The mother and child could both be fatally affected by severe placental abruption. There are three types of placental abruption: complete, marginal, and central, depending on where and how the placenta separates.

  • COMPLETE PLACENTAL ABRUPTION: An extensive amount of vaginal bleeding results from the placenta’s total separation from the uterine lining.
  • MARGINAL PLACENTAL ABRUPTION: This occurs when there is only minor separation of the placenta, causing vaginal bleeding.
  • CONCEALED OR SILENT PLACENTAL ABRUPTION: No vaginal bleeding occurs because the blood becomes trapped between the placenta and the uterine wall.

Placental Abruption Symptoms

Placental abruption can happen gradually. Vaginal bleeding may be evident, or it may not. Blood can vary in volume. The placental abruption may still be serious even if there isn’t much blood as sometimes blood can occasionally become stuck inside the uterus. Other symptoms to look out for are:

  • Decreased Foetal Movement
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Backache
  • Uterine Tenderness
  • Extremely Painful Contractions (repeated right after the other)
  • Issues related to the baby’s heart rate

Causes of Placental Abruption

Placental abruption frequently has an unclear cause. Specific lifestyle factors or abdominal injuries may elevate the risk. The following conditions increase your chance of placental abruptions:

  • Consumption of cocaine, and alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Smoking
  • Conceiving before the age of 20 or especially after 40 years increases the risk of placental abruption.
  • Any accident, fall, or blow to the abdomen.
  • Chronic high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Midway during pregnancy, or after 20 weeks, preeclampsia is a severe medical condition that can develop. Preeclampsia is characterised by elevated blood pressure, protein levels in urine, headaches, fluid retention, and blurred vision.
  • The rupture of membranes causes leakage of amniotic fluid before the end of the full pregnancy term.
  • Chorioamnionitis: An infection that occurs inside the uterus during pregnancy.
  • Having Multiple Pregnancies: The placenta may occasionally split before the second kid is ready to be born as a result of giving birth to the first child.

Placental Abruption Diagnosis

You should consult your doctor as soon as you can if you are experiencing bleeding or abdominal pain. In addition to performing blood tests and a physical examination, they might also do an ultrasound to view the inside of your uterus. When bleeding happens in the middle or late stages of pregnancy, it is important to rule out placenta previa first, as it presents with similar symptoms. If placenta previa is present, pelvic examination may worsen bleeding.

Diagnosis for abruption of the placenta may involve the following:

  • Monitoring the foetal heart rate and movement.
  • Blood and Rh typing
  • CBC (Complete Blood Count)
  • Pelvic Ultrasonography
  • Monitoring your blood pressure
  • The doctor will investigate the intensity of the pain
  • Monitoring your contractions
  • Recommend urine test

A doctor diagnosing placental abruption will usually identify three grades:

  • Grade 1: There is minimal bleeding, mild uterine contractions, and no indication that the foetus or you are stressed.
  • Grade 2: Some uterine contractions, mild to moderate bleeding, and indications of foetal stress.
  • Grade 3: Persistent contractions in the uterus, moderate to severe bleeding, low blood pressure, abdominal pain, and foetal mortality. 


Because the placenta cannot be rejoined, the extent of the abruption, the mother’s health, and the baby’s condition will all determine the course of treatment.

  • Pregnancy less than 34 weeks: If your baby’s heart rate is normal and the placental abruption doesn’t appear to be severe, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for observation. Eventually, you may be permitted to return home if the baby seems okay and your bleeding has stopped. In the unlikely event that you go into labour before your baby’s lungs develop fully, you may also be administered steroids.
  • Pregnancy more than 34 weeks: Vaginal delivery is possible if the abruption doesn’t look so severe. If the abruption is severe, you will require an immediate C-section if it is endangering your health or the health of your unborn child. Moreover, a blood transfusion can be required.


Diagnosed by placental abruption symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, placental abruption is a pregnancy complication where the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus, posing risks to the foetus and parent. Treatment options include close monitoring, immediate delivery via vaginal birth or C-section, or both. 

Do not wait until your next prenatal appointment to bring up any concerns you may have about probable placental abruption symptoms. Make an immediate call to your healthcare practitioner’s office because prompt action may save your life. Avoiding tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, and other substances can lower your chance of placental abruption. The recurrence rate of placental abruption is high despite its rarity. Make sure your doctor is aware of any previous placental abruptions you may have experienced.

Frequently Asked Questions

 1. Can exercise cause placental abruption?

Exercises accompanied by high jumps and falls that can bring trauma to the abdomen can cause placental abruption.

2. Can a baby survive a placental abruption?

The severity of the ailment and the infant’s gestational age at birth are the two criteria that determine whether the newborn survives. The probability of the baby surviving increases if the abruption is discovered early and the patient receives prompt medical attention.

3. What is the difference between placental abruption and placenta previa?

When a placenta previa occurs, the cervix of the giving parent is partially or completely covered. Another name for it is the low-lying placenta. 

Consider it as a barrier preventing the uterus from exiting. Despite its complex alignment, the placenta remains attached to the uterus. 

Placental abruption is the term for when the placenta separates from the uterus. Vaginal bleeding can occur during both pregnancy and childbirth due to certain causes. 

4. What are the first symptoms of placental abruption?

Though bleeding is not always the case, vaginal bleeding is the most typical sign of a placental abruption. You may have acute and persistent back or abdomen pain as well.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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