The Post About the Placenta Previa

It’s been an emotional couple of days over here in pregnancy land.

Six weeks ago, at my 22-week ultrasound, I was diagnosed with placenta previa. Most placentas attach high up on the uterus, but mine (and about 1 out of every 200 pregnant women) decided to attach low down. This causes problems when it comes time to deliver baby, because the placenta is blocking baby’s path–and leads to dangerous bleeding.

Our sonographer breezily told us that most of the time the placenta moves up as the uterus grows, and not to worry about it. My midwife told us the same thing. But then a few weeks later our midwife had a chance to look at my ultrasound, and told me that my placenta was covering so much of the cervix that it may not move, and I needed to be prepared for the eventuality that I’d need a C-section.

A C-section definitely wasn’t a part of my plan: I’ve been dreaming of a natural birth for a long time, and even before I became pregnant I did all the research about it. I’ve read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, and felt so ready for it! I’ve been doing all the crunchy things to prepare for the birth from drinking my red raspberry tea to sitting on a yoga ball every day to learning meditations.

I really, really didn’t want to have a C-section. All my crunchy beliefs aside, C-sections terrify me.

So I prayed, googled, and hoped.

We found out at my 28-week ultrasound this past Friday that I still have placenta previa, and that my stubborn placenta hasn’t moved an iota since my 22-week scan.

This means three things for me:

  1. I will have restrictions for the rest of my pregnancy, including not lifting anything (no grocery shopping, no moving furniture, no taking out the trash, nothing strenuous), no exercise, and taking it as easy as possible so as to try to avoid premature labor.
  2. I will constantly have to be watching for signs of bleeding, which is common with placenta previa, and if that should happen, and they couldn’t stop the bleeding, then I’d need to deliver early.
  3. I will need to plan on a C-section, a few weeks before my due date so as to avoid me going into labor.

My sonographer was great, she was so sweet–and reminded me that this wasn’t the end of the world: “I see so many people in here who get upset because their baby is breech, and they won’t be able to have a natural birth–but you know what? I see babies that have major heart defects, and babies that suddenly stop growing. Your baby is healthy, you are so lucky. This isn’t a huge deal.”

My midwife, too, wasn’t going to let me leave until she had cheered me up. She was over the top with enthusiasm about everything from VBACs (“just because you have a c-section this time, doesn’t mean you’ll have to the next time!”) to the color of my urine (“you are so well hydrated!!”), she was really stretching, but I could tell that she was just trying hard to boost my spirits. In about twenty minutes she went over what it is like to have a C-section, why the hospital I am delivering at is great at gentle caesarean births, that if the placenta did somehow move what my natural birth might be like, about how important it is that I follow all my restrictions (especially the no lifting, and drinking tons of water to avoid contractions), and what to watch for in the case of a bleed.

Three days later, I am still remembering things she said, because my head was in such a daze.

The past few days I’ve stuck pretty close to home. I’ve talked to a few trusted people. Cried a lot. And done absolutely no research. Going from a natural birth with a due date of August 29th to a caesarean birth with an as of yet undecided due date has me feeling extremely overwhelmed. I honestly feel like I have a ticking time bomb inside of me, and I’m not sure when it will go off.

Suddenly, this pregnancy feels extremely weighty. I am anxious to make it to 35-weeks so that baby won’t have to spend time in the NICU. I am second guessing all my daily activities, and every night that I can mark another day off on the calendar, I breathe a sigh of relief.

I need to find a way to regain my pregnancy chutzpah, to once again take this pregnancy by storm, and do all the research that I know will make the type-A part of me happy. But for now, I am just processing, putting my hands on my belly, and repeating the words to baby that my husband has been telling me every day: we are going to be okay.

Have you had a c-section? Any tips or advice?

Comments

  1. Hi dear mother to be, here is a message from the Netherlands. I am reading your post with tears in my eyes, because I recognise all the things you feel. Five years ago I experienced the same, although I had a placenta previa marginalis. To give you some positive spirit: our daughter was born with a c section at 35 weeks, and she is a great healthy young girl! And the c-section..to be honest…I experienced it very consciously because of the hypno birthing course we did. So try to make it a special birth as well, all births are special, also this one!
    A few days ago we got the message with the 20 week ultrasound that I have pp again, and I really have to get myself together.. Because a few weeks ago the midwife did an ultrasound and she sold us the placenta was high enough in the uterus. Unfortunately it isn’t. So I really have to try to stay positive, remember all the good care we had during the birth of our daughter. But I also really hoped for a natural birth this time. But I think it is going to be a c section again.
    I wish you all the best, and it really gives me strength to read the stories from other mothers. Thanks.

    • Karen, hello to you from Nebraska, USA! I am so sorry about your difficulties with placenta previa. I wish every woman could just have a problem-free pregnancy. I am SO happy to hear that your sweet daughter was born healthy, and is doing well! That really gives me a lot of comfort. I am 30 weeks pregnant now, and just hoping to make it as far as possible so this baby can develop and grow. One of the hardest things about placenta previa is just dealing with fear and worry on a daily basis. I would love to know more about how you dealt with the c-section, and applied your hypno birthing knowledge to that experience! How did hypno birthing help you? Any suggestions for me in that regard? I am so sorry that you have pp again. That stubborn placenta. I will be praying that on the next ultrasound your placenta will have moved, and that the rest of your pregnancy is uneventful. I am hoping, with you, that you have a natural birth this time around. Stay in touch, Karen! Best wishes!

  2. Bethany,

    I am so sorry to hear this. I know how much you were preparing and looking forward to a natural birth and the experience that goes along with it. I read through the other comments, and these ladies seem to have such good advice for you in regards to having a c-section. You sound so strong through all of this and you still have such a good attitude about it all. I am so happy to read Baby L is growing strong and healthy. Prayers for a safe rest of your pregnancy and prayers for a peaceful delivery. You got this, mama. Stay strong. Sending lots of internet hugs your way.

  3. Levi was a c-section, 2 weeks early, due to preeclampsia. I, too, had been planning on a natural birth, and was really looking forward to the “birthing experience”. When the induction attempt did nothing but cause my baby’s heartrate to drop, and my doctor (and nurse sister, who I called for a second opinion) said the best course of action was a planned, calm c-section, rather than rushed emergency surgery, which was imminent if I attempted labor, I was not scared, I was sad about missing out. However, during and after the event, I never felt like that! It was special in its own way. I was completely awake and aware of my surroundings, no pain to distract from the moment. I was calm, able to chat and joke with the staff. My husband got to watch them pull everything out and help clean him off and cut the cord. It was over in a few minutes; I wasn’t tired a bit, so I welcomed any and all visitors. I have a unique story to tell Levi about his birth, because I am also a candidate for VBAC. I recovered very quickly, was up and soon just about whatever I wanted the next day. Most importantly, I have a healthy baby! You can do this! You can even enjoy this!

  4. I had my 2nd c-section a few days ago. Both of them were scheduled. It’s not the end of the world. Just a surgery to make sure you and your baby will be fine. No need to take unnecessary risks. I wish you all the best.

  5. I’ve had 4 c-sections. All of my babies were born via c-section and I have never experienced a vaginal birth. If you have any questions at all, feel free to message me. I would be happy to answer your questions. I have to agree with the sonographer, it will be okay! It’s different than what you hoped for, but it’s still beautiful. I think once you see your new little one and once they place your sweet babe in your arms, your joy will overshadow any disappointments you have had. ♥️

    Follow those instructions! Relax, rest, and enjoy these last months of pregnancy. Everything is going to be okay!

  6. Bethany, it really sucks when things don’t go according to plan, especially something as big as expelling a human outside of your body! I know it is so scary and you’re almost literally walking on eggshells for the next 8-10 weeks. You have a strong support system in your med care it sounds like, you’ve got a great husband, and a blogging community rooting for you. Prayers for peace and comfort and a healthy delivery!

  7. I know we have already chatted some about it, but I just want to emphasize that even though it may not be the ideal birth, when you hold your child in your arms, it will all be worth it. I was far from thrilled about having to have a C-section this time. I really do feel like I went through a grieving process before hand. And even though I was nervous going into the hospital, that whole week leading up to it I spent dreaming about our boys’ faces and how excited I was to finally meet them face-to-face and hold them in my arms. That moment did not disappoint at all! ❤️ You are a strong mama–and you will need that strength just as much with the C-section as a natural birth.
    Nathana recently posted…To My Growing FamilyMy Profile

  8. I am so sorry to hear that. I will pray for you.
    It’s sooo wonderful that those ladies were so lovely and tried to encourage you! I think you will always remember that {even if it didn’t really help at the time!}.
    From what you’ve said, your baby is healthy and that is the biggest thing to be grateful.
    Love to you and Saia as well xoxo

  9. I had three breech babies and three c-sections, and I am so, so sorry! I too had a strong desire for a natural birth, and dealing with the intense emotions associated with that loss is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s especially hard, I think, because so many people do not understand WHY it is so hard. After all, as you said, who cares if you lost your “dream birth” when people are losing the health or life of their babies? I struggled with guilt about this for a long time before I realized that God was dealing head-on with my idol. I was in a fight with God for control, and honestly it went on for years before I finally gave in. And oh, the giving in was such sweet relief! He truly heals the broken-hearted! I hope you don’t have to go through THREE sections before you learn what God has for you. 🙂 But yeah, be prepared for strong emotions, and for people to think you’re crazy. You’re not. Genesis 3 assures us that childbirth will be hard, no matter what happens afterwards.

    The second lesson I learned was to make sure you have good support, and it sounds like you are doing just that. It is very important to have a physician who understands your desire for a natural birth and cares about you as a mother and not just about your baby. It sounds like your midwife is excellent and will make sure you end up with such a physician. 🙂 I live in a state where midwives are illegal (they just decriminalized midwives last month!!!), so a physician was my only option and it took until the third birth to find the right one. I did not think it was worth the money to hire extra birth support, especially when I found out I would be having another c-section, but my friend volunteered to attend my third birth as a doula and OMG it was a game-changer! Having a second person in the OR to assist your husband, take pictures of the three of you, have knowledge about the drugs/procedures/emergencies, etc. is invaluable. It was also wonderful to have her to talk to postpartum, to hear her perspective on what happened, and to be able to process your emotions with another invested woman. (Try as he might, my husband just did not understand.)

    It sounds like your midwife has all the gentle c-section stuff down, but that was another factor that made my third section the “best.” It was awesome to have the clear drape and see my baby being born, but best of all was being able to hold her and do skin-to-skin while the doc was putting me back together. The beginning of surgery goes so fast, but it takes about half an hour to close things up. With the first two I was cold, and in shock, and alone because my husband escorted the baby to the warming lamp. In my mind, that time away from the baby post-op contributed greatly to my emotional distress, and being able to hold my third and bond right away was a big part of healing. Fight for immediate skin to skin if you possibly can!

    And here is some helpful information about healing: being separated from your baby at birth does NOT compromise bonding or breastfeeding. It will probably be 4-6 months before your scar stops hurting, but you don’t need pain meds for long (less than a week for me). Look into the c-pant and scar tissue massage for scar management. Keep a lookout for diastases recti and take steps to rehabilitate your core.

    I am hoping your PP goes away, but c-section or not, it is absolutely amazing to bring a tiny life into the world! Cheers!

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