Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Placenta praevia

2-minute read

If you are pregnant and the placenta is lying low in your uterus, you have placenta praevia. Placenta praevia occurs in 1 in every 200 pregnancies. You should talk to your doctor about any bleeding during your pregnancy.

The placenta develops at the same time as your baby and is attached to the lining of your uterus (womb) during pregnancy.

It allows for oxygen and nutrients to pass from you to your baby as well as producing hormones that support your pregnancy.

Sometimes the placenta develops in the lower part of a woman's uterus.

If the placenta is covering or partly covering your cervix towards the end of your pregnancy, it will block your baby's path through your vagina and you'll have to deliver your baby by caesarean section.

Placenta praevia diagnosis

If your placenta is lying low in your uterus, it may show up in the ultrasound scan that many women have between 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. If the scan shows that you may have placenta praevia, you'll probably be asked to have another scan at about 32 weeks.

For most women, that second scan will show the placenta has naturally moved up as the uterus expanded during pregnancy. Sometimes it moves up between the second scan and the baby's due date.

Your doctor may find that placenta praevia is the reason a baby is in the breech position or lying across your bump.

Sudden, painless bleeding is another symptom of placenta praevia.

You should have any bleeding during pregnancy checked by your doctor.

Placenta praevia risks and complications

Most women with placenta praevia don't have any complications, but if there are complications, they can be serious.

They may cause early labour or bleeding that can be dangerous to you and your baby.

Managing placenta praevia

There's nothing that can be done to move the placenta, you must wait to see if it moves naturally.

Whether you've had bleeding or not, your doctor is likely to suggest you have someone nearby to help you at all times, and that you are close to a hospital.

You may be advised not to do strenuous exercise or other activities.

Your doctor may suggest that you go into hospital before the birth, and that you have a caesarean section.

Eating a healthy diet, including iron-rich food, and getting lots of rest will help you and your baby throughout your pregnancy.

Learn more about placenta praevia treatment on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website.

Last reviewed: January 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Placenta praevia information | myVMC

In placenta praevia, the placenta grows in an incorrect position, covering the opening of the uterus. It typically causes painless vaginal bleeding.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Placenta Praevia

The placenta is an organ within the uterus (womb) through which the unborn baby gets nutrients (food) and oxygen, as well as removing waste products. It is attached to the wall of the uterus by many blood vessels.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Complications of Pregnancy | myVMC

Pregnancy is a normal and natural event. However, it may pose risks to the mother. Complications can include ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia, placental abruption, preeclampsia or premature delivery.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Pregnancy: Vaginal Bleeding | myVMC

Vaginal bleeding can occur early in thepregnancy (spotting) or late (antepartum haemorrhage) and should be investigated by a medical professional.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Bleeding during pregnancy

Trusted information on bleeding during pregnancy including the causes and finding out the cause of the bleeding, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pregnancy: Abdominal Pain | myVMC

Abdominal pain is a common symptom seen in pregnancy, and has many different causes. It may result from obstetric or gynaecologic disorders related to the pregnancy, or it may be due to other causes not related to the pregnancy.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Placenta accreta information | myVMC

Placenta accreta is a life threatening pregnancy condition in which the placenta is attached to the uterus. Excessive blood loss during delivery may occur.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Morphology scan

In the second trimester of pregnancy, you may be offered to have an morphology scan (anomaly scan). Learn about what it looks for and when it is performed.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

What is the placenta?

The placenta is crucial to keeping your baby alive and well in pregnancy. It is an organ attached to the lining of the womb that delivers oxygen and nutrients.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Induction of labour

Inducing labour allows women to deliver their baby normally by stimulating labour contractions. There are several medical and surgical techniques which can be used.

Read more on Parenthub website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo