Unfortunately, there are certain complications associated with the placenta during pregnancy. Some of these complications can be quite severe and may pose a health threat for you or your baby.
Your health care provider will monitor you regularly for signs of these placental problems:
- Placental Abruption: Placental abruption is quite common during pregnancy. It occurs when the placenta begins to detach from the uterine wall before labor and delivery. Most often occurring during the third trimester, placental abruption can be full or partial, and increases your chances of experiencing a preterm delivery. When serious, placental abruption can deprive your baby of much-needed oxygen and nutrients, leading to a stillbirth.
- Placenta Previa: Placenta previa is another very common placental complication. It occurs when the placenta is located very low in the uterus, covering your cervix. This prevents baby from entering the birth canal properly during labor and delivery. As with placental abruption, placenta previa can be full or partial. Possible complications of placental abruption include vaginal bleeding and preterm delivery.
- Placenta Accreta: Placenta accreta is a much more rare type of placental complication. It occurs when the placenta attaches too firmly to the uterine wall, making it impossible to deliver. Occasionally, placenta accreta can result in uterine rupture or bleeding.
Though many of us in North America simply throw the placenta away after birth, there are actually centuries of rich traditions regarding the placenta. Many cultures follow specific rituals in order to honor their children and the role that the placenta played in their birth.
- Indonesia: In Indonesia, the placenta is seen as the baby's twin or elder sibling. This placenta will act as the child's guardian angel throughout life. Therefore, it must be treated well, and is buried according to specific traditions. It is the father's responsibility to clean, wrap, and bury the placenta on the day of the birth.
- China: The Chinese view the placenta as a life-giving force. Therefore, it is dried and added to certain placenta recipes in order to increase a person's energy and vitality.
- Africa: In certain African nations, the placenta is swaddled in blankets and buried beneath a tree. This tree symbolizes ongoing life.
When you give birth, you may decide to keep your placenta or donate it to medical science. Or you may decide to follow one of the traditions that your own culture has regarding the placenta.