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How To Know If The Bleeding Is Due To Placenta Previa

Expertly reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD · Internal or General Medicine

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 03, 2022

How To Know If The Bleeding Is Due To Placenta Previa

Mothers understand that pregnancy may come with health problems that can put their and their baby’s lives at risk. One of these problems is placenta previa. Here’s what you need to know about placenta previa symptoms and what can be done to address them. 

What is Placenta Previa? 

Placenta previa occurs when the placenta, the organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, grows at the lowest portion of the uterus and partially or totally covers the cervix. 

Pregnant women who develop placenta previa have a higher risk of experiencing the following complications:

  • Hemorrhage or severe bleeding. The bleeding may occur during pregnancy, labor, and delivery and may lead to shock. 
  • Preterm birth. Due to hemorrhage, the baby may need to be delivered early via emergency CS resulting in prematurity. 
  • Fetal distress from the lack of oxygen and blood loss for the baby
  • Hysterectomy if the placenta does not detach from the uterus. 

These possible complications may lead to long-term health problems or death. That’s why it’s crucial to spot the different placenta previa symptoms as soon as possible to get prompt medical treatment. 

Placenta Previa Symptoms To Watch Out For

Below are the placenta previa symptoms pregnant moms (and those caring for them) should watch out for. 

Bleeding from the vagina

The main placenta previa symptom is bleeding from the vagina. This bleeding usually have the following characteristics:

  • Sudden
  • Bright red 
  • Happens after the 20th week of pregnancy (near the end of the 2nd trimester and early 3rd trimester)
  • Painless


Any kind of bleeding during pregnancy should be reported. If you have sudden, heavy, and bright red bleeding, please go to the hospital immediately. Even if bleeding stops on its own (which can happen in placenta previa), it can start again within just a few days or weeks. Hence, going to the hospital at the first sign of bleeding should be a priority. 


Besides bleeding, another possible placenta previa symptom is prelabor contractions that may cause pain. Note, however, that these contractions often happen with bleeding. 

Who’s More Likely To Develop Placenta Previa

It would be helpful for all pregnant women to be aware of placenta previa symptoms. But it is particularly important if you have a high risk of developing this pregnancy problem. 

Be sure to carefully watch out for placenta previa signs if you:

  • Know that you have an “abnormally-shaped” uterus based on what the doctor has told you
  • Already had many pregnancies 
  • Have multiple pregnancies, like twins or triplets
  • Sustained an injury or scarring to the lining of the uterus. Usually, this occurs during surgery such as Cesarean section. 
  • Underwent in vitro fertilization
  • Women who are aged 35 and older, who smoke, and those who used illicit drugs, such as cocaine, also have a higher risk of having placenta previa. 

    Is It Treatable?

    Please note that there’s no treatment to change the position of the placenta. Hence, pregnant women who have placenta previa symptoms will rely on strategies that can reduce the risk of serious complications. Treatment modalities include:

    • Bed rest or hospital confinement even before the labor starts. 
    • Ultrasound monitoring to track the position of the placenta.
    • Early delivery, based on the severity of bleeding and baby’s health status. 
    • CS delivery, considering the placenta is covering the cervix
    • Blood transfusion. 

    Key Takeaways

    Placenta previa happens when the placenta grows at the lowest portion of the uterus and covers the cervix which opens to the birth canal. Its main symptom is vaginal bleeding that’s usually heavy, bright red, sudden, and painless. If you experience bleeding of any sort, please report it to your doctor to ascertain the cause and needed treatment. 

    Learn more about Pregnancy here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Internal or General Medicine

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 03, 2022

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