Placental Abruption

Placental separation refers to the partial or complete separation of the placenta from the uterus, before delivery. It commonly occurs during the third trimester but may occur any time after 20th week. It is seen only in 1% of pregnant women and can be treated depending on the type of separation.


The specific causes of placental abruption are not known yet. Some of the probable causes of this condition include

  • Trauma to abdomen
  • Injury to abdomen
  • Rapid loss of amniotic fluid

Risk factors

The risk of placental abruption increases with several factors like

  • History of placental abruption
  • High blood pressure
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Maternal age above 40
  • Substance abuse
  • Premature rupture of membranes


The classic symptoms of placental abruption include

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Uterine tenderness
  • Rapid contractions of uterus

The pain may begin suddenly. In some cases, vaginal bleeding may not be present if the blood is trapped in the uterus.

In some rare cases, this condition may develop gradually over a period of time, characterized by light, intermittent vaginal bleeding. The growth of the baby may not be quick and may also lead to low amniotic fluid.

When to see a doctor

Any of the classic symptoms, as mentioned above, should be reported to the doctor immediately.


The separated placenta can be reattached to the uterus, depending on the type of separation

  • If the baby is not full term and the separation is mild that does not affect baby’s heartbeat, close monitoring may be recommended. If the condition of the fetus is stable and bleeding stops, you may be asked to have complete rest at home.
  • If the baby is close to full term (after 34 weeks of pregnancy) with mild placental abruption, vaginal delivery may be recommended. C-section delivery is suggested if the abruption progresses.


  • Avoid substance abuse
  • Report abdominal trauma immediately
  • Control high blood pressure

If you had placental abruption earlier, talk to your doctor before conceiving again

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