If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you may be wondering what exactly the placenta does and how it’s placement can affect pregnancies. The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby through an umbilical cord and removes waste products from your baby’s blood. By 12 weeks, the placenta is fully formed and functioning. NCCRM infertility clinic Cary NC is here to help you understand what it means to have an anterior placenta, and how your pregnancy may differ from others with a posterior placenta.
The location of your placenta can vary depending on where the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The most common site of implantation and placenta location is toward the top and back of the uterus; this is referred to as a posterior placenta. If you are diagnosed with an anterior placenta, this means that it is located at the front of the uterus toward the front of your body and stomach. An anterior placement of the placenta is relatively common and not a cause for concern. Other less common placenta placements include Fundal, located at the top of the uterus, Lateral, located on the right or left side of the uterus, or Low-lying, located at the bottom of the uterus sometimes covering the cervix. The placenta can also develop in between any of these areas such as toward the top and back, the top and side, or the bottom and front, etc.
How an Anterior Placenta Is Different
If you have an ultrasound early on in your pregnancy, you may find out that you have an anterior placenta, however, having an anterior placenta on an early ultrasound doesn’t mean that is where the placenta will stay. It is very common for the position of the placenta to change as the uterus stretches and grows. So what’s the big deal? Having an anterior placenta doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, your pregnancy, or your baby, but there are a few things that will make your pregnancy slightly different than someone who has a posterior placenta, for example:
- It may take longer to feel your baby kick. Most women feel their baby’s first kicks between 18-24 weeks. An anterior placenta is like an extra layer between your baby and the outer wall of your belly. This cushioning may make it more difficult to feel your baby kicking until the third trimester when your baby is big enough to make more noticeable movements.
- It may take your provider a little more time to find the heartbeat or the baby during prenatal visits. This can be very stressful the first time your doctor or nurse uses a doppler to hear your baby’s heartbeat and is unsuccessful. But again, since your anterior placenta is thicker up against your stomach than a posterior placenta, it is tougher to hear through all the cushion. If your doctor still has a hard time finding the heartbeat early on, they can always do ultrasounds that are stronger than a portable fetal doppler to reassure your baby is has a strong, healthy heartbeat.
- Make certain prenatal tests, such as amniocentesis, slightly more complex. An amniocentesis is a medical procedure used for the prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal abnormalities and other medical conditions in the fetus, where the doctor places a needle through the abdomen to retrieve a sample of amniotic fluid. If the placenta is along the front wall of the belly, it can be in the way. This poses an inconvenience, but your medical professional will have strategies for working around your anterior placenta.
Labor and Anterior Placenta Delivery
In most cases, having an anterior placenta does not affect your labor and delivery at all. As long as your placenta is not too low and there are no other pregnancy concerns, you can likely have a vaginal birth and follow the birth plan you desire. If you have an anterior placenta, you don’t have to do anything differently to stay healthy during your pregnancy and shouldn’t worry about being at risk for any major delivery complications.
The placenta can do its job supporting your growing baby whether it’s on the top, side, front, or back of the uterus. You may have to wait a little longer to feel your baby’s first kicks, and they may not feel as strong as if you had a posterior placenta. But try not to worry – you’re still likely to have a routine, healthy pregnancy with an anterior placenta. If you or a loved one have any further questions about placenta placements or are concerned about infertility, please contact NCCRM infertility clinic Cary NC today!