New parents are often concerned about the impact of the anterior placenta on the size of the belly. While it does have an impact on feeling baby movements, it has nothing to do with the size of the baby bump.
The anterior placenta and bigger belly are two unrelated things. However, as a mommy-to-be, you feel anxious about why your baby isn’t making any movements. This is because of an anterior placenta that affects pregnant women all around the world.
Let’s read on to learn more.
What Is an Anterior Placenta?
The placenta is the point that joins the baby through the umbilical cord with the uterus. The placenta attaches itself to the umbilical cord to provide nutrients and oxygen while removing waste from the baby’s body.
However, you may be still wondering what is an anterior placenta? This means the placenta is closest to your lower abdomen, on the front side of the uterus.
Typically, your placenta is on the back or the top of the uterus. If it is on the back, it is called the posterior placenta. If it is on top, it is known as the fundal placenta. The position is what makes the anterior placenta condition different. Commonly, this position makes a barrier between your baby and your belly, which makes feeling your baby’s movements on your belly difficult.
This is nothing to be concerned about as it occurs in 33 to 55% of pregnancies worldwide. However, the placenta doesn’t need to remain in the front position throughout the pregnancy. It may move above or onto the back of the uterus as the baby grows inside of you.
Other placenta positions are possible, such as the placenta below the baby or low-lying placenta position, or lateral placenta that can exist on either side of the baby.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Typically, anterior placenta is observed after 18 weeks of pregnancy. The position is not definite and may or may not change. Regular ultrasounds will show you if the position has changed. Even if it doesn’t, you need not worry as it has no negative health implications for the baby.
You may be concerned about not feeling the baby kick, which normally occurs after 4 to 5 months of pregnancy. But even in women with anterior placenta, there is no marked difference in the baby movements that they feel. To put it in simple words, it varies from pregnancy to pregnancy. Some women feel the movements after 22 weeks instead of after 18 weeks.
Can You Identify Anterior Placenta Just by Looking?
You might wonder if the anterior placenta will make your baby bump appear any different. Well, the answer is no. It has no marked impact on the way your belly appears. The fact is, you only learn about having this condition after a proper diagnosis from your doctor. Having an ultrasound when your baby is 18 to 21 weeks old can show you if you have an anterior placenta.
This ultrasound is called an anatomy scan, and it determines the position of the placenta, the size of the fetus, organ development, heartbeat, and any anomalies that may exist in the embryo. It is a comprehensive scan that is crucial for determining the baby’s and the mother’s health. When complications are identified, doctors may ask mothers to give it some time as their pregnancies progress. Positive changes may occur in the placenta position.
Anterior placenta delivery may be a c-section if the position causes placenta previa. An anterior placenta diagnosed before delivery helps doctors to identify if the situation is complicated or not.
Does the Anterior Placenta Make You Show Sooner?
As discussed earlier, the anterior placenta has no impact on the size of the baby bump. So, there isn’t any evidence that it will make your belly look bigger or show sooner. The anterior position of the placenta only cushions the baby, but it doesn’t increase the size, nor does it change the shape of the belly.
Do You Carry Differently with Anterior Placenta?
Carrying your baby with the anterior placenta is no different from a regular placenta position. If this is your first pregnancy with an anterior placenta and your previous pregnancy had a normal placental position, you may feel a difference with this placental location. Also, the shape of the baby bump is hardly any different from a normal pregnancy. A baby bump does not indicate a posterior placenta, anterior placenta, or even a low-lying placenta.
Because the anterior placenta acts as a barrier between the belly and the baby, you may notice that you will feel baby movements a little later than usual, at approximately 21 to 22 weeks. Normally women feel baby movements as soon as 18 weeks.
Other than lesser baby movements, your doctor may require extra time than usual to detect your baby’s heartbeat. It sounds scary. Still, doctors realize quickly that the anterior placenta is the reason, rather than any other anomaly. Sometimes, the heartbeat may not be crystal clear but muffled instead.
Is Anterior Placenta More Uncomfortable?
An anterior placenta is a mild condition that is only identified by the position of the placenta. True, there are risks, but the condition itself is so rare that even the risks occur seldom. The anterior placenta may not pose discomfort to you or the baby, but it could contribute to the development of other complications indirectly.
Consult your doctor if you have an anterior placenta and feel discomfort during your pregnancy. The discomfort may also be for other reasons. Pregnancies are challenging and vary. Every woman experiences her pregnancy differently. So instead of blindly blaming your discomfort on your anterior placenta, consider other factors.
Is it Possible to Have a Normal Delivery with the Anterior Placenta?
Don’t be confused between the anterior placenta and placenta previa. You only need a cesarean if your placenta entirely covers your cervix and there is no space for the baby to come out. This requires an incision for the baby. Otherwise, if your placenta is in a position where there is no barrier to vaginal birth, there is no reason you can’t have a vaginal delivery.
There is no need for concern. You just need to check with your doctor that your placenta is not in an excessively lower position. This will show on an ultrasound before giving birth. You can find out the position of your placenta and confirm your birth plan without worrisome surprises.
Similarly, in cesarean delivery, there is no risk or complications from an incision. The doctor makes an incision where there is no barrier. If the placenta is at the front, the doctors will make an incision below. Again, cesarean delivery is only necessary when there is a risk of placenta previa.
Even in cesarean delivery, a low-lying placenta can lead to serious complications. Therefore, you need a scan before the procedure can occur. Fortunately, the ultrasound makes it clear which is the safest point for the doctor to make an incision.
Are There Any Risks with Anterior Placenta?
While an anterior placenta pregnancy is as common as the regular one, there are certain risks to be aware of. So, let’s review the most common complications and risks that may surface.
- Placenta Previa
One of the most common anterior placenta risks is placenta previa, otherwise known as the low-lying anterior placenta. It can cause heavy vaginal bleeding as the placenta covers the cervix, the opening of the uterus. This may cause further complications at the end of the pregnancy. The outcome can be risky as this condition closes the mouth of the uterus and makes vaginal delivery impossible. This leads to a C-section.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be afraid of placenta previa, as cesarean delivery has become a safer practice. However, remember that not every anterior placenta leads to placenta previa.
- Labor Complications
Another significant risk to be aware of is your baby’s fetal position. The anterior placenta changes your baby’s position and often moves into a back-to-back position. This means your baby’s back is against your back, and its face is on the front wall of the uterus, meaning facing your abdomen.
Although this type of position is rare and occurs in less than 10% of pregnant women, it may still cause long and painful labor. It also causes long-term pain in your back throughout the pregnancy. This position can also result in a cesarean delivery.
- Gestational Diabetes
While the placental position seldom affects pregnancy, there is always a risk that it can cause gestational diabetes. Low insulin hormone production, which results in this condition, cannot counter the excess placental hormone. So, it can be a risk from anterior placenta placement.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually ends with the birth of the baby. Increased glucose levels in the blood are common after the first trimester. One of the major reasons behind this is the body’s inability to produce the insulin hormone that controls glucose in the blood. While it is harmful to the mother, it can also risk the baby’s health.
- High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is common during pregnancy and goes away after birth. However, doctors stress monitoring blood pressure and blood sugar during pregnancy to avoid any future complications.
- Intrauterine Growth Retardation
Another condition known as ‘intra-uterine growth retardation’ or IUGR, is the condition of inadequate circulation of blood nutrients to the fetus. This marks a lack of growth for the fetus. Consequently, this results in the loss of pregnancy.
There are multiple reasons behind the development of IUGR, one of which is the position of the placenta. There is no treatment for IUGR. If during pregnancy there is a lack of growth or any other such anomaly, the doctors may have to abort the fetus. But this is a very extreme situation. Some babies born with this condition have birth complications and medical problems throughout their lives.
You must understand that being pregnant is a wonderful journey full of surprises. Some surprises can be sweeter than others. Even if you are facing some health-related struggles, it is important to stay calm and try to focus on the positive possibilities.
An anterior placenta may have caused you unnecessary worry. It is a mild condition and there are few risks, such as placenta previa and labor complications. It can be treated in most cases and will be managed by your health care provider.
So, if you have an anterior placenta, you don’t have to worry if you are not sensing clear baby movements before 20 weeks or be afraid of any delivery complications. Everything will remain under control if have your routine pregnancy care and communicate with your doctor. So, enjoy this special time and do not worry.