Anterior Placenta

Definition - What does Anterior Placenta mean?

An anterior placenta is a placenta that anchors the front (anterior) wall of the uterus. While it is completely normal to have an anterior placenta, a placenta that sits in the front may delay the onset of labor and may even lead to higher rates of cesarean section and after-delivery complications, especially the death of the baby.

FertilitySmarts explains Anterior Placenta

The placenta is an organ vital for pregnancy that functions to nourish the baby with oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord. The placenta attaches itself to the mother's uterus. It then receives the nutrients from the mother’s system and supplies them to the baby — to which it is also connected via the umbilical cord. Hence, it will grow wherever the fertilized egg implants into the uterus so that as the egg matures into an embryo, the placenta is close enough to deliver the required nutrition.

The placenta usually attaches to the top or the back wall of the uterus, in which case, it’s easier to feel the baby’s movements and hear its heartbeat. However, because an anterior placenta occupies the position between the mother’s belly and the deeply situated baby, the baby’s movements may not be as stronger as with other placental positions. Likewise, the obstetrician may not be able to detect the fetal heartbeat readily, in particular, during the early stages of pregnancy when the baby is too small.

A doctor can determine the front location of the placenta by doing an ultrasound between 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. In general, an anterior placenta does not usually cause problems. However, there is some evidence that an anterior placenta could adversely impact the outcome of the pregnancy both during and after pregnancy, leading to complications such as:

  • high blood pressure in the mother
  • diabetes in the mother
  • premature separation of the placenta
  • poor growth of the baby inside the uterus
  • death of the unborn baby
  • delayed labor
  • C-section (this is more likely if the placenta migrates downward and occupies the cervix, technically known as placenta previa)
  • Excessive bleeding in the mother after delivery, especially one who has had prior c-sections

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