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What Does Having An Anterior Placenta Mean

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The anterior placenta is one of the types of placenta positions that can occur in a pregnant woman. This is an important aspect of pregnancy that every mom-to-be should have a good knowledge of.

In every pregnant woman, the placenta position plays an important and unique role connected with the survival of the child. This organ serves as a source of hormones, immunity, nutrients, and oxygen to the fetus.

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At conception, the fetus and placenta begin the development process together. And as growth progresses, the placenta maintains pace with the fetus to make room for immunities, oxygen, and other essential nutrients to be supplied to it (fetus).

By the end of the first stage of your pregnancy which is also referred to as the first trimester that is between 12weeks to 13 weeks into the pregnancy, the placenta would have attained its full capabilities to support the growing fetus.

What Is The Placenta?

The placenta can be described as an organ of the body. But unlike other organs like the kidney, it grows during pregnancy in the uterus with the sole purpose of making available all the necessary nutrients for the growth of the baby.

With the presence of the umbilical cord, blood flows to the fetus from the placenta.

The placenta also acts as a defense against external penetration, excretes out waste, and with the umbilical cord, connects child and mother.

In other words, the placenta is simply the lifeline of the baby in the womb.

It is important to know that the placenta position varies from one pregnant mother to another with none posing a major risk to the pregnancy. But where the cervix is blocked by the placenta, it may become necessary for the woman to remain at the hospital for close monitoring and most likely have her baby through cesarean delivery.

Placenta Position

There are various positions that the placenta takes in pregnant mothers which include;

  • Anterior placenta (placenta located in front of the fetus)
  • Posterior placenta (placenta located behind the fetus)
  • Fundal anterior (placenta located at the top-front of the fetus)
  • Fundal posterior (placenta located at the top behind of the fetus)
  • Placenta lateral (located at the left or right side)
  • Fundal placenta (placenta located on top of the fetus)
  • Low lying (mostly below the uterus but sometimes the placenta covers the cervix).   

What Is An Anterior Placenta?

This is the term used when the baby has its placenta located in front of it. This position is common in pregnancy.

The placenta settles between the fetus and the stomach making it impossible for the mother to feel her baby early in pregnancy.

Research shows that about a quarter of pregnancies have the placentas in front of the baby. Most times it does not pose a threat either to the child or mother.

Causes Of Anterior Placenta                         

Anterior placenta occurs when the placenta takes its position in front of the fetus. 

When a fertilized egg implants itself at the front of the uterus during conception, the placenta is formed from the uterus wall also. 

Is Anterior Placenta Position A Threat?

In government studies, it was revealed that the several likely complications that may arise from having the placenta in front of the baby are usually very mild and pose no threat to the mother or child.

The major challenge that may arise as a result of having the placenta in front of the baby is that;

  • The placenta being located in front of the fetus, serves as a shield between the mother’s abdomen and the baby. This makes it difficult for the expectant mom to feel her baby.
  • It also makes it challenging for the health care provider to locate the fetal heart sounds.
  • Also, conducting amniocentesis may be difficult. Amniocentesis is a test that your doctor may want to conduct to check the likelihood of your baby having a genetic condition such as Patau’s syndrome or Down‘s syndrome. It involves extracting sample cells from the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus in the uterus.

It’s not offered to all pregnant women, only to those at risk of having a baby with a genetic condition.

On rare occasions, the risks resulting from having an anterior placenta could lead to gestational diabetes or hypertension. And on very rare occasions, placenta abruption (where the placenta is detached from the wall of the uterus)

Anterior Placenta Baby Movement

As earlier stated, an anterior placenta poses as a shield between the mother’s abdomen and the baby. This makes the movement of the baby almost unnoticeable by its mother.

Although the feeling is not general. Some pregnant women who have anterior placenta still feel the movements of their little one. But not as strong as it would have been for a pregnancy with a posterior placenta.

As the fetus grows bigger and stronger specifically towards the third trimester ( after 27 weeks into the pregnancy ), anterior placenta baby movement can be felt much stronger by the lower area and by the sides of the abdomen.

Anterior Placenta Ultrasound 

An anterior placenta may make it challenging to effectively conduct certain tests during pregnancy.

For instance, it becomes difficult for the fetal heart rate monitor to pick the heartbeat of the baby. Rather, it captures the heart rate of the mother through the placenta.

Depending on the position taken by the baby, it sometimes becomes challenging to present a good image of the baby by looking through the placenta.

Anterior Placenta Risks

There is a risk of excessive bleeding in pregnant mothers having anterior placenta. As labor draws near, with the use of an ultrasound, the position of the placenta is carefully monitored. Because any movement of the placenta to the lower part of the uterus can lead to difficulty in labor.

Back labor may also arise and this is usually very painful, and sometimes uncontrollable even with pain reliefs provided during pregnancy.

Anterior Placenta Complications

The complications that may arise from having an anterior placenta will not pose a threat to the life of the baby but might bring about difficulty in birth.

For instance, the placenta may totally or partially block the cervix making it difficult for a vaginal birth and increasing the chances of having a cesarean section for delivery.

Anterior Placenta Delivery

Most of the children born to moms who had anterior placenta are birthed with no complications.

When labor starts, the health care provider examines the mother to be sure that the vaginal canal is not blocked. Where there is no blockage, vaginal birth becomes possible but where the position of the baby is not revealed, it will be difficult for the doctors to prevent a breech birth which can lead to increased bleeding.

If a cesarean section is considered, it must be carefully done so that the placenta is not cut which can result in heavy bleeding

When To Call For Your Doctor

Even though having an anterior placenta does not pose a threat to the healthiness of your pregnancy yet there are things you should not hide when they come up.

You may not feel your baby properly as compared to when it’s a posterior placenta but there are still regular movements that can help you tell when your baby is active especially when you are not busy.

Also, you must notify your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of the following;

  • If you notice a reduction in the movement of your baby.
  • There are no movements from your baby after concentrating on it for about two hours.
  • You cannot feel the movement of your child by 24 weeks
  • When you are experiencing bleeding from your vagina.
  • When you are having a severe back pain
  • You notice that you are beginning to feel contractions.
  • You notice tightening and pains in the stomach.

How To Stay Healthy

Having your placenta at the front of the fetus does not call for a special activity or consciousness, the same process of staying healthy applies just as other placenta positions.

Therefore notwithstanding the position of your placenta, you should;

  • Make use of car seatbelt when in a vehicle
  • Avoid any activity that can cause injury to your stomach
  • Stay away from the consumption of alcohol, smoking, or any other dangerous drugs
  • Manage all health conditions that may cause complications of pregnancy. Examples include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity.
  • Keep to every appointment and suggested tests recommended by your doctor.

Conclusion

No matter the position your placenta takes during pregnancy, it does not restrict its functions or reduce them. It may take some time before you can feel your baby’s movements and you may not feel it strongly enough, but it does not stop you from having a healthy pregnancy routine.

Though complications are very rare with an anterior placenta, to ensure all is going well, go for your prenatal checks regularly. Seeing your care provider often would help calm your worries, and needful steps would be taken quickly in the event of any complications.

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