Placental Abruption and Late Pregnancy Bleeding

Placental Abruption
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What is placental abruption?:

A placental abruption is where the placenta pulls away from the uterine wall during pregnancy instead of after the birth. This can be one cause of bleeding in late pregnancy, though it does not always cause bleeding that can be seen. Bleeding is the major sign of placental abruption. It can be with or without pain and should be reported immediately to your doctor or midwife.

They may instruct you to come in for an ultrasound or to report immediately to labor and delivery at the hospital.

Why is placental abruption dangerous?:

Placental abruption is dangerous to both you and your baby. The abrupt separation of the placenta can cause severe maternal bleeding your baby may be denied oxygen. The condition puts you both at great risk and could lead to death for you or your baby.

What causes a placental abruption?:

Placental abruption occurs more often when there are certain risk factors to the pregnancy. These risk factors include:

How is a placental abruption diagnosed?:

The most common way to diagnose a placental abruption is through a physical exam. For severe or complete placental abruptions, the signs of a placental abruption are vaginal bleeding with or without pain.

There are also less severe versions of the placental abruption which may be diagnosed by ultrasound exam and do not require immediate delivery. These are called partial or marginal placental abruptions. You may be prescribed bed rest and monitoring.


Placental Abruption. March of Dimes. January 2012. Last Accessed September 1, 2014.

Obstetrics & Gynecology, Sixth Edition. Beckman, Ling, Barzansky, Herbert, Laube and Smith. 2010.

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