Kim Kardashian recently revealed she might need a hysterectomy after giving birth because of a problem with her placenta. Consequently, pregnant women worldwide started worrying about their own placentas. Here, Evelyn Lewin gives us a rundown on all things placenta-related.
What is a placenta? The placenta is an organ that develops inside your uterus along with your growing baby. Its main job is to supply your baby with vital nutrients and oxygen, while taking away waste products. This is done via the umbilical cord.
So what happened to Kim Kardashians placenta during pregnancy? Kim Kardashian had placenta accreta during her pregnancy with North. Placenta accreta is when your placenta grows too deeply into the wall of your uterus. She recently told C magazine she is having the same issue now. If the placenta grows a little bit deeper [in this pregnancy] than it did last time, then [the doctors] are prepared to have my uterus removed, which is a little scary for me, West told Amanda de Cadenet in her interview with C Magazine.
The chances of placenta accreta happening are very low. Its more likely to occur after a second or third C-section, but even then the risk is only approximately 0.5%, says Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Michael van der Griend.
The placenta can be so firmly attached, it becomes difficult to separate from your uterus. This can cause a lot of bleeding after giving birth, so the placenta often needs to be surgically removed in theatre. In some cases, the bleeding is so severe, and the placenta so firmly attached, your entire uterus needs to be removed (called a hysterectomy).
What are some of the other problems you can have with your placenta during pregnancy? The following conditions can also affect your placenta during pregnancy:
The placenta usually sits on the side of your uterus, or towards the top. In placenta praevia, the placenta covers the opening of your uterus instead, which is down low (the cervix). Low-lying placentas are more likely to bleed during pregnancy. If you have placenta praevia and you experience vaginal bleeding, see your doctor. She may recommend bed rest and/or further monitoring of your baby. Some cases of placenta praevia resolve on their own, as the placenta often moves higher up the uterus during pregnancy. If your placenta is completely blocking your cervix when your babys due, you will need a C-section.
Sometimes, part of the placenta can detach from the wall of the uterus during pregnancy. Symptoms include sharp, sudden abdominal pain. The pain can then spread, and your entire abdomen may feel hard. Some women start having contractions. Often youll also experience vaginal bleeding. Placental abruption is a medical emergency that requires urgent attention.
Sometimes, the placenta doesnt grow or function as it should. In some cases, this means your baby may not receive adequate nutrition and oxygen from it, so her growth may be affected. There are no symptoms of placental insufficiency, but your healthcare provider may question its presence if youre measuring small. An ultrasound may then be needed to check babys growth.
Should I worry about my own placenta?
In the overwhelming majority of cases, placentas do their job nicely and dont cause any problems. If youre worried about your placenta, speak to your healthcare provider.