The placenta is a unique organ that’s only present during pregnancy. This disk- or pancake-shaped organ takes nutrients and oxygen from your body and transfers it to your baby. In return, the baby’s side will deliver waste products that go back to your bloodstream.
When you deliver your baby, you’ll also deliver the placenta. For the most part, the placenta’s positioning isn’t cause for concern. But there are some positions that are more common than others. The anterior position is a less common place for the placenta to attach.
Typical Placenta Location
The placenta can attach virtually anywhere in the uterus to nourish your baby. Usually the placenta positions itself at either the top or side of the uterus. But it’s always possible that the placenta will attach to the front of the stomach, a position known as an anterior placenta. If the placenta attaches to the back of the uterus, near your spine, this is known as a posterior placenta.
Typically, your doctor will check the position of your placenta during your mid-pregnancy ultrasound, which should take place between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy.
How Is an Anterior Placenta Different?
The anterior positioning of the placenta shouldn’t make a difference to your baby. It should continue to nourish your baby regardless of its positioning. But there are a few slight differences you may notice (or not notice) due to the placenta’s front positioning. The placenta might create an extra space or cushion between your stomach and your baby, for example. You may not feel kicks or punches as strongly because the placenta can act as a cushion. For this reason, you may not feel your baby move as early in your pregnancy.
Also, having a placenta in the front of your stomach could make it difficult to listen to your baby’s heart sounds because your baby will not be as close to your stomach.
Luckily these are minor inconveniences that shouldn’t impact your baby’s health.
Are There Potential Complications to an Anterior Placenta?
An anterior placenta isn’t typically cause for concern. But there is a possibility that the anterior placenta could grow down instead of up. This means that your placenta grows toward your cervix.
While it’s true that your placenta implants in your uterus, as your baby grows larger and your uterus expands, it can move slightly more upward. Think of this as a migration pattern where the placenta grows more toward the blood vessel-rich top portion of your uterus.
This could possibly block baby’s way on delivery day and cause bleeding. This condition is known as placenta previa. If the placenta blocks all or a portion of your cervix during labor, a cesarean delivery is required.
When Should I Call the Doctor About a Placenta Problem?
Although an anterior placenta is not usually cause for concern, your doctor may prepare you for signs that could indicate a placenta problem during pregnancy.
Contact your doctor if you experience the following symptoms, which could indicate a placenta problem:
- abdominal pain
- fast uterine contractions
- severe back pains
- vaginal bleeding
If you have experienced a fall or other trauma to your stomach, such as a car accident, call your doctor. These injuries could potentially affect your placenta’s health and may require a doctor’s examination.
Your doctor will continue to monitor the placement of your baby as well as placenta throughout your pregnancy. Getting regular prenatal care and managing any conditions that may arise throughout your pregnancy can help you deliver a healthy baby.
If you’re concerned about your anterior placenta, talk to your doctor, who can discuss any individual risks given your health history. But for most women, an anterior placenta isn’t cause for concern.