Well, with your baby out you think labour and delivery is over, time to relax. YOU THOUGHT WRONG! You hear those dreaded words, "time to deliver the placenta!".
What Is A Placenta?
So if you're pregnant, have had a baby or are just overly interested in the female reproductive system you may have heard the word "placenta" and often wondered what on earth this does. Another question that also pops into mind is "why, after pushing a baby out, am i now being told i need to deliver my placenta?"
The placenta is a vital organ which develops once your pregnancy begins, this then attaches itself to the wall of the uterus and begins its job. The job of the placenta is to provide oxygen and the necessary nutrients to your baby. It will also clear out any waste products from your baby's blood, keeping them safe and healthy.
Is My Placenta Healthy and Working?
For any woman, there should be no health risks or concerns surrounding the efficiency of your placenta. However, some individual circumstances can affect your placenta in may ways. These are just a few to look out for;
If, during pregnancy, you experience a fall or force to your abdomen area & increase chances of your placenta detaching itself from the uterus. This is the placenta abruption.
Your placenta can be at risk if you experience any conditions which affects the ability of your blood clotting. So if you have a higher risk of blood clots, your doctor will probably like to check that the placenta is working correctly, more often.
👨🏾🤝👨🏼Twins, Trips, Quads:
If you're carrying multiples, you will be more likely to experience some problems with your placenta, which will obviously in turn affect your unborn babies.
👵🏻Age Isn't Just A Number:
Your age can often play tricks on you, especially over the age of 40. If you're over the age of 40 and pregnant, your chances of experiencing placental problems will increase dramatically.
What Placental Problems May I Face?
Have you overlooked all the circumstances and realised one explains you perfectly? Are you over the age of 40? Carrying multiples? Have a blood condition? Stop worrying and be aware of the problems you may face. Know how to prevent this and how to ensure your baby stays safe and healthy.
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta partially or completely separates from the wall of the uterus before the delivery of your baby. This can cut off the flow of oxygen being supplied to your baby.
Signs of placental abruption can include;
- Back pain,
- Firmness in the uterus or abdomen,
- Frequent contractions (with no other indications of labour),
- Abdominal pain,
- Vaginal bleeding.
As a mother, placental abruption, can lead to a number of health complications;
- Failure of kidneys or other organs due to blood loss,
- Shock due to blood loss,
- Possible blood transfusion needed.
Complications can occur with the baby after placental abruption;
- Premature birth,
- Not getting enough oxygen,
Placenta accreta can make your pregnancy high risk and occurs when the placenta grows deeper into the inner wall of the uterus than needed. This is usually detected through an ultrasound, and has very limited symptoms to watch out for.
Complications which can occur for the mother;
- Damage to the uterus,
- Damage to other organs,
- Possibility of haemorrhaging,
Possibility of needing an hysterectomy.
Your baby is affected by placenta accreta in the following ways;
- Premature birth,
You may have heard of the "third stage of labour" and this is when you deliver your placenta. However, in a few cases your placenta will remain in your womb longer than normal after delivering your baby, this is a retained placenta. There are three causes of a retained placenta;
When your placenta comes away from the wall of the uterus but becomes trapped behind the semi-closed cervix. This not allowing your placenta to come out, meaning it is "trapped".
We have spoken about placenta accreta which is when your placenta is deeply attached to the wall of your womb. But if your placenta has grown through the wall of the womb, this is known as placenta percreta.
After delivering your baby, if your womb stops contracting or won't contract enough for your placenta to remove itself from your womb, this is known as placenta adherens.
Placenta previa is when your placenta covers your cervix as it's lying low down in your womb. This can be in three different ways;
- Complete Previa: Cervix is completely covered by placenta.
- Marginal Previa: Placenta extends just to the edge of the cervix.
- Partial Previa: Cervix is partially covered by the placenta.
How Do I Deliver My Placenta After Vaginal Birth?
Delivering the placenta is very different for every woman and can be very different for those who have had a vaginal birth. You have two options after delivering your baby on which way to deliver your placenta. And whilst the doctors will push you to choose one option over the other, the choice is yours.
This is your first option, and the option preferred by the doctors. This is when an injection of a drug called Oxytocin is used during the birth of your baby. This then causes the womb to contract making the placenta move away from the wall of the womb. Oxytocin can make you feel sick and may cause you to vomit. This process usually takes around 30 minutes but is usually delivered within around 5 minutes.
Your second option, one that the doctor will steer you away from, is known as physiological management. This meaning no drugs are involved and this will prolong the delivery of the placenta, often taking up to an hour.
How Do I Deliver My Placenta After A C-Section?
After a Cesarean Section, the surgeon will remove your placenta without the assistance of the mother. Even though this has been done for you, it may still be necessary for you to have a dose of Pitocin which is a medicine which works to make your uterus contract. It is known that having skin-on-skin with your baby after birth can cause your uterus to contract, as can breastfeeding straight after birth.