Tommy’s guest blog by Carla
Carla started her website MyBump2Baby after her experience of placenta praevia.
She found writing about her experience comforting and wanted to raise awareness of a condition she’d known nothing about before contracting it.
‘The sonographer said, “You have something called placenta praevia and your placenta is currently blocking your babies exit, the placenta does often move but in very rare occasions when they don’t it would result in a C-section at 39 weeks. You are booked in for another scan a 32 weeks and we will go from there.” She handed me a leaflet. I jumped off the bed, pulled my jumper down and headed to work with my 20-week scan in my hand passing it around the office like a proud parent.’
Placenta praevia affects 1 in 200 births and its causes are largely unknown.
In most pregnancies the placenta attaches to the side of the womb but for some women the placenta attaches lower down and may cover a part or all of the cervix.
In 90% of cases, the placenta moves upwards as the womb grows but for some women the placenta continues to lie in the lower part of the uterus after 20 weeks.
This is a problem as the placenta can lie in the way of the baby being born, meaning a caesarean is necessary.
When Carla got home after her appointment with the sonographer she began to look into placenta praevia.
‘One website I looked at warned that in extremely rare occasions it can result in one big bleed and the mother can lose litres of blood in a matter of minutes and it can result in death for the mother and the baby if not seen to in time. That will never happen to me, I thought.’
Carla and her partner were due to get married in March and decided to honeymoon in the UK as their original plan of Mexico could be risky if the placenta hadn’t moved.
What are the warning signs?
There is a risk that you may bleed in the second half of pregnancy and bleeding from placenta praevia can be heavy.
Carla began to experience bleeds are around 26 weeks pregnant, 6 weeks before her wedding day.
‘They were small bleeds but I was advised to head straight to the hospital as it could be a sign that a bigger bleed was on the way, I had to stay in hospital for around 48 hours and then I would be sent home again. This continued at least once a week right up to the week before the wedding. The nurses told me that I need to understand that I may not make it to my wedding day, a tear ran down my cheek.’
Fortunately, Carla didn’t experience any bleeding in the week before and her wedding went ahead.
After the wedding, however, Carla began to have bleeds again, the last at 33 weeks.
What are the risks?
Placenta praevia is linked to spontaneous preterm delivery and PPROM (waters breaking early), a major cause of premature labour, so Carla was kept in hospital overnight.
She woke at 1:45am to find her bed covered in blood.
‘I rang for the nurse and before I knew it I was being rushed to theatre and nurses were shouting “she has lost too much blood and the baby needed to come out now”.’
Carla’s baby boy George was born half an hour later weighing 4 lb 12oz. He wasn’t breathing at first and had to be resuscitated.
Both George and Carla had to have blood transfusions and the nurses told Carla that if she had been at home, she and George wouldn’t have made it.
‘George was put in to intensive care in the neo-natal unit in Blackpool, initially he couldn’t breathe himself but after 3 very challenging and difficult weeks George finally came home.’
Carla began writing down her thoughts and feelings as a way of coping with all that had happened.
During her maternity leave she decided to turn these accounts into a website for other parents in similar situations.
Carla’s website MyBump2Baby launched in October and is already having a great response.
‘Lots of mums and dads have read my blogs about George being premature and I have had some great feedback from them saying how they are going through the same thing and my posts have made them smile and filled them with hope.’
If you’re interested in taking a look Carla’s website, which also has a directory of UK based baby, toddler and pre-school classes, groups and events, you can head over to MyBump2Baby here.
Where to next?
If you want to learn more about this complication and how it can affect pregnancy, take a look at our information page on placenta praevia.
We have a section on our website dedicated to preterm birth and caring for your premature baby. If you or someone you love is struggling to cope after an early birth, you can access our prematurity information and advice here.
If you’ve enjoyed reading Carla’s story, you can head over to our section on stories about premature birth for more.