Do you know that you and your baby share an organ during pregnancy? This organ, the placenta, is a fetomaternal organ that develops and functions only during pregnancy. In most cases, the placenta is attached to the sides or top of the uterus. However, it can also attach to the front of the placenta, causing an anterior placenta.
In this article, we’ve outlined 10 important facts you need to know about the anterior placenta; including the possible effects on childbirth, and when to call your doctor.
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Table of contents
- What is Anterior Placenta?
- 7 Things to Know About Anterior Placenta
- 1. It Is Not Strange
- 2. An Anterior Placenta Does Not Change
- 3. You May Not Feel the Kicks
- 4. An Anterior Placenta Makes It More Difficult to Hear Heart sounds
- 5. It Is More Difficult To Determine Your Baby’s Position
- 6. An Anterior Placenta May Lead to Placenta Previa
- 7. Anterior Placenta Does Not Affect Your Delivery Plan
- When Does an Anterior Placenta Become A Problem?
What is Anterior Placenta?
In plain terms, an anterior placenta refers to a placenta that is attached to (or located at) the front of the uterus. When this happens, the placenta would create extra space between your baby and your stomach, making it more difficult to feel the baby’s kicks.
7 Things to Know About Anterior Placenta
Thankfully, the anterior placenta isn’t really something to worry about. In fact, the placenta can attach to any part of the uterus (the bottom, top, or sides).
Nevertheless, we’ve compiled the following important facts about an anterior placenta:
1. It Is Not Strange
Here’s the fact: An anterior placenta is more common than you may imagine. Recent research explains that about 40 to 45% of all pregnant women have an anterior placenta. Furthermore, women with anterior placentas have no symptoms and it remains largely unnoticed until an ultrasound scan is conducted.
2. An Anterior Placenta Does Not Change
Although the placenta moves as the uterus grows during pregnancy, it will not stop being an anterior placenta. In fact, the placenta only moves upwards in this period. This way, a placenta that is too close to the cervix in the first trimester can move to a safer location in later stages of pregnancy.
3. You May Not Feel the Kicks
In most cases, women with anterior placentas find it more difficult to feel the expected baby kicks, or fetal movements, during pregnancy. This is because of the extra cushion or space the anterior placenta places between your stomach and your little one.
Thankfully, this would not affect your baby in any way because an anterior placenta still performs the expected function of gaseous exchange and nutrient delivery.
4. An Anterior Placenta Makes It More Difficult to Hear Heart sounds
In the second trimester, your doctors may use a Doppler ultrasound to locate and monitor your baby’s heartbeat.
Just like it is with fetal movements, it is more difficult to hear your baby’s heart sounds when you have an anterior placenta. This is because the placenta is located between the ultrasound scanner and your little one.
In other instances, a fetoscope can be used to detect heart sounds during pregnancy. However, this may also take longer to achieve due to the anterior position of the placenta.
Further Reading: Posterior Placenta
5. It Is More Difficult To Determine Your Baby’s Position
As we mentioned earlier, the extra space between your baby and your stomach due to an anterior placenta would make it more difficult to feel your little one’s movements during pregnancy. When this happens, it also becomes really difficult to conduct belly mapping (a unique strategy that determines your child’s position) during pregnancy.
6. An Anterior Placenta May Lead to Placenta Previa
In some cases, an anterior placenta may grow down towards the cervix rather than upwards and away from the birth canal. This may lead to placenta previa, which is a serious placenta complication during pregnancy.
7. Anterior Placenta Does Not Affect Your Delivery Plan
Thankfully, having an anterior placenta would not change the expected due date or alter your delivery plans. In fact, most babies with anterior placentas are born without complications. Sometimes, a mom may never even know that she has/had an anterior placenta.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that an anterior placenta may increase the chances of difficult labor or C-section.
Further Reading: Retained Placenta
When Does an Anterior Placenta Become A Problem?
As we mentioned earlier, anterior placentas don’t often cause problems during pregnancy. However, it is important to remain observant and attend regular antenatal clinics to monitor your and your baby’s health in this unique period.
In addition, you should call your doctor immediately if you observe any of the following at any point:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid & Continuous uterine contractions
- Severe back pain
Furthermore, you should report any accident or direct hit to your stomach during pregnancy to your doctor. This way, he/she can conduct an ultrasound scan to monitor the health of your baby and the placenta.
Finally, it is super important to attend your clinics and allow your doctor to monitor your placenta and your baby during pregnancy. With proper prenatal care, an anterior placenta can be managed properly without complications.
The good news is that an anterior placenta usually causes no problems during pregnancy.
Ahn KH, Lee EH, Cho GJ, Hong SC, Oh MJ, Kim HJ. Anterior placenta previa in the mid-trimester of pregnancy as a risk factor for neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. PLoS One. 2018 Nov 2;13(11):e0207061. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207061. PMID: 30388184; PMCID: PMC6214571.