The growth of a placenta on the anterior surface or the front of the uterine wall is called an anterior placenta. Although it doesn’t cause many complications, it does bring about some difficulties in feeling your baby’s kicks or for your healthcare provider to detect any heartbeat of the baby. Placenta is a vital organ during pregnancy, supplying the developing baby with oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and immunity.
If you’ve heard that you have an anterior placenta, you might be wondering what it could mean, whether it is dangerous or not, it would affect your baby in any way. Well, having an anterior placenta is normal and, in fact, quite common. This article will discuss the possibility of any benefits of anterior placenta and risks and other information you may need regarding an anterior placenta.
An Anterior Placenta:
An anterior placenta is diagnosed at around 18-21 weeks into pregnancy by ultrasound and is not usually a cause of concern. An anterior placenta means that the placenta has developed on the anterior surface of the uterine wall and is close to your abdomen.
The placenta is formed where a fertilized egg embeds itself in the uterine wall and plays a vital role in the transportation of oxygen, nutrient supply, hormones, immunity, and waste material. The placenta is usually formed on the back or top of the uterus but in this case, it forms at the front.
Location of Placenta:
As mentioned before, a placenta forms where a fertilized egg embeds itself and can actually grow just anywhere in the uterus. Some areas where the placenta is generally formed are as follows:
- Posterior: The back side of the uterus near your spine.
- Anterior: The front of the uterus towards your stomach.
- Lateral: Either side of the uterus (left or right).
- Fundal: The fundus or the top of the uterus.
- Low-lying: Usually the floor or bottom of the uterus, at times covering the cervix.
It’s not necessary that a placenta would grow only in this specific location but can actually grow anywhere and in between like top-front or lower-left.
How would it Affect Pregnancy?
Although an anterior placenta is not something to be concerned about and does not usually harm the baby, the major impact it would cause would be that it would take longer to feel your baby’s kick or detect a heartbeat. This could also make some of the pre-natal tests difficult such as amniocentesis.
Depending upon where the placenta is located, your doctor may find difficulty in performing some pre-natal tests so next time, if the procedure is time taking or requires extra effort, don’t get worried.
Feeling the Baby:
As the anterior placenta acts as a barrier between the baby and the baby, your doctor or mid-wife might find difficulty in detecting the baby’s size and position by just feeling over the baby. Don’t be worried. The baby can still be felt by your healthcare provider beneath the anterior placental area.
As a part of the routine exams, doctors check your baby’s heartbeat but in case of an anterior placenta, which acts as a barrier, detecting the heartbeat can become complicated, so it’s okay if your doctor or midwife is taking longer than usual.
Amniocentesis is actually a pre-natal examination that examines the amniotic fluid and the procedure requires a sample of the fluid which is attained by a needle through the abdomen. The process can become challenging to some extent as the placenta lies in the belly area. However, you shouldn’t be alarmed as your healthcare provider will have some strategies to overcome the problem.
Benefits of Anterior Placenta:
Now that we know what prominent difficulty an anterior placenta might cause, you must be thinking if it has any benefits. Unfortunately, the answer would be no. It does not have any benefits but does not harm you or the baby and is pretty standard. If the placenta is healthy and the baby in your belly is healthy, you’re good to go, as the job is being done.
Risks of Anterior Placenta:
Generally speaking, an anterior placenta does not pose any risks to you or your baby and does not affect the delivery process. Some studies show that an anterior placenta may have a slightly higher risk of developing some complications, which are as follows:
When the placenta completely covers the cervix, mild to heavy bleeding can occur which can lead to complications.
You’re more likely to have a c-section delivery in case you have placenta previa due to the blockage of the vagina caused by the placenta, which makes it difficult for the baby to exit.
If you have an anterior placenta, there’s a slightly higher chance that your baby’s head is down and its back is against your back, meaning that its face is facing upwards. The position is also called as occiput position and can cause pain and more prolonged labor than usual.
Other possible complications that may occur are as follows:
- Growth restriction
- Gestational diabetes
- Placental abruption
- Post-partum complications
- Labor induction
Treatment and Vaginal Delivery with Anterior Placenta:
There is no treatment for an anterior placenta, and it is not really necessary as it does not cause problems or complications normally. Treatment is only required if you have placenta previa or other pregnancy complications.
Regarding a vaginal delivery, yes, a vaginal delivery is definitely possible even if you have an anterior placenta, as it doesn’t necessarily affect the delivery. It is only affected in cases of placenta previa. In case of a c-section, a delivery can be done by a c-section as well, but if the placenta is low-lying, your doctor might need to do ultrasounds in order to find a safe place for an incision to make in order to deliver the baby.
Taking Care of Your Health:
There are no extra tips that you should follow if you have an anterior placenta, and in fact, in any placental position, you should take care of your health for both you and your baby. Following are some tips that you can follow during pregnancy:
- Avoid activities that can potentially injure your belly area.
- Wear your seatbelt whenever in the car.
- Avoid the use of drugs, smoking, and alcohol, as they can prove to be dangerous for your baby.
- Go for regular check-ups with your doctor.
- Manage your overall health by adopting a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent any complications and conditions like obesity and blood pressure.
When should you see a Doctor?
You should regularly go to your doctor for check-ups in order to maintain and ensure your baby’s health, but when should you immediately seek medical attention? Although an anterior placenta doesn’t cause any complications normally and neither does it affect the baby, if you notice anything weird or unusual, you should immediately contact your doctor and let them know. Seek medical attention if you observe any of the following when having an anterior placenta:
- Feeling contractions
- Observe vaginal bleeding while pregnant
- Severe back pain
- Observe tightening and pain in the stomach
An anterior placenta is formed on the anterior surface of the uterus and acts as a barrier between the baby and the baby. Usually, it is not harmful, and you shouldn’t be worried about it, but at times it may cause slightly higher risks of developing some complications such as placenta previa. There are no additional benefits of having an anterior placenta but no disadvantages either.
There are some risks, but no treatments are available for an anterior placenta, except for placenta previa and other pregnancy complications. If you observe any unusual signs and symptoms, you should immediately contact your doctor and let them know. You should also focus on your diet and health and adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid any problems, complications or health risks.