What is an anterior placenta and should I be worried?
In most cases having an anterior placenta won’t cause any issues for you or your baby. It just means that your placenta is positioned on the front wall of your womb because that is where the fertilised egg has decided to embed itself after it’s long travels through your fallopian tube.
Baby movements and anterior placenta
If you’re diagnosed with anterior placenta, you may have to wait a little longer to able to feel baby’s first movements as the placenta provides a cushion between your baby and the womb.
Although feeling baby move is harder for anterior placenta mums you will still notice your baby fall into a regular pattern of movement during awake and asleep times and should contact your midwife if you have not felt any movement by 24 weeks.
Just because it may be a little harder to feel your baby move with an anterior placenta, it is really important that you never assume that this is a reason not to feel your baby move. It's important to contact your midwife immediately if your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed.
Anterior placenta may also make it a bit trickier for your doctor or midwife to hear fetal heart beat and perform tests such as amniocentesis.
When will I know if I have an anterior placenta?
At your 20 scan known as your ‘anomaly scan’ the sonographer will describe where your placenta is lying in one of the following ways:
- anterior - embedded on the front wall of your uterus
- posterior - embedded on the back wall of your uterus
- fundal - embedded on the top wall of your uterus
- right - embedded on the right or left side of your uterus
If you are told at your scan that you have anterior placenta, don’t worry. The placenta generally moves around the womb quite a bit during pregnancy and anterior placenta – even a very low-lying one will usually move safely out of baby’s way by your due date.
Anterior placenta and birth
If you are delivering by c-section and the anterior placenta is low and covering the cervix, you may have a higher risk of bleeding. This is because the placenta may be in the same location as where surgeon needs to make his incision to deliver your baby. In these cases the cut may be made higher up than usual to reduce the risk of bleeding.
You will be given an ultrasound scan to help your surgeon determine the best position for making the cut.
If you have had a caesarean birth previously, the placenta may have developed over the site of your old wound. This can sometimes cause a rare condition known as placenta accreta where the placenta grows into and through the wall of your womb.
An ultrasound and/or MRI scan can help diagnose placenta accreta so that plans for a safe caesarean delivery can be made in advance.
If the placenta is found to be low-lying at your 20 week scan, you will be invited for another scan between 32 and 36 weeks to check to see whether it has moved up and out of the way of the cevix. In most cases, the placenta is carried upwards as your womb expands around your developing baby. If your placenta is still found to be low-lying between 32 and 36 weeks, it is known as placenta praevia.