Placenta Complications

Clinical Services: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Upper East Side
525 East 68th Street, Suite J-130
New York, NY 10065
(212) 746-0714

The placenta is the organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. It provides nutrients and oxygen to your baby, as well as removes waste from your baby’s blood. The placenta is attached to your uterus and connects to your baby’s umbilical cord.

If you deliver your baby vaginally, the placenta will be delivered afterward. If you have a Cesarean section, the placenta will be removed by your surgeon after your baby is delivered.

In rare cases, placenta complications can come about; they may occur during your pregnancy, during childbirth or after childbirth. These complications can cause serious bleeding that may put you or your baby at high risk. Thankfully, with care from experienced doctors, these complications can be managed effectively.

Currently the cause of placenta complications is unknown. It is important to understand that if you develop a placenta complication, it is not because of something you have done or not done.

Why Choose Weill Cornell Medicine for Your Care?

The Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has the expertise and technology needed to diagnose, monitor and manage all placenta complications. Our experienced obstetricians collaborate with our maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy) specialists and use the best available ultrasound technology to view your placenta throughout your pregnancy.

Our compassionate team understands that a placenta complication during your pregnancy can be overwhelming and frightening. We support our patients throughout the entire pregnancy, empowering you with information and providing the best care so you and your baby will be as healthy as possible.

Placenta conditions can be very serious and, potentially, life threatening to you or your baby. It is important to receive care from an experienced obstetrician who has specialized knowledge about placenta conditions, such as the team at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Compassionate and personalized care for all placenta complications: At Weill Cornell Medicine, our obstetricians work closely with all patients to evaluate your placenta’s growth and health.

Our obstetricians use leading ultrasound technology to see images of your placenta, uterus and baby. This helps doctors monitor your baby’s development, as well as your placenta’s location and growth.

Multidisciplinary care from leading experts: When you choose Weill Cornell Medicine, you have access to a network of doctors and specialists. Your obstetrician may consult with experts in maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy) and other medical professionals as needed.

Weill Cornell Medicine partners with NewYork-Presbyterian, one of the top hospital systems in New York City and the U.S.

Placenta Conditions We Care For

Our team helps diagnose, monitor and care for all placenta conditions during pregnancy and childbirth.

Placenta Previa

This condition occurs when the placenta partially or totally covers the cervix, the opening of the uterus that leads to the vagina (birth canal). This condition is common early in pregnancy and often resolves as the uterus grows. It can cause severe bleeding during pregnancy or childbirth, which may put you or your baby at risk.

Placenta previa treatment options: Your doctor will monitor the location of your placenta throughout your pregnancy, as well as the amount and timing of bleeding. If the placenta partially or totally covers the cervix during the third trimester, your doctor may recommend a Cesarean section as the safest way to deliver for you and your baby.

Placenta Accreta, Increta or Percreta

Typically, the placenta should detach from the uterus after your baby is born. With placenta accreta, increta or percreta, the placenta is attached too deeply to the uterus wall to detach naturally. These conditions sometimes cause vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, but more often do not cause any symptoms.

● Placenta accreta occurs when the placenta attaches too deeply to the uterus, but does not penetrate the uterine muscle wall
● Placenta increta occurs when the placenta attaches more deeply to the uterus and becomes embedded in the uterine muscle wall 
● Placenta percreta is the most severe, occurring when the placenta embeds itself into the uterus and grows to the outside organs (such as the bladder)

Treatment options: If diagnosed during your pregnancy, placenta accreta, increta and percreta require careful monitoring throughout your pregnancy. Your doctor will discuss the best options for you to deliver your baby, as well as a plan if you go into labor spontaneously.

Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to deliver vaginally. In other cases, your doctor may recommend a planned Cesarean section. In severe cases, you may need a hysterectomy after the Cesarean section to prevent dangerous bleeding.

Placental Abruption

During this condition, the placenta detaches from the uterus while you are still pregnant. This can cause you to bleed heavily or prevent oxygen and nutrients from getting to your baby.

Treatment options for placental abruption: This condition is very serious and may require you to stay in the hospital so that we can monitor you and your baby’s health. In some cases, you may need to deliver early — either vaginally or with a Cesarean section.

Retained Placenta

After you deliver your baby, your placenta should detach within about 30 minutes. If not, your placenta is considered to be “retained” and needs treatment. Left untreated, you may develop an infection or heavy bleeding.

Treatment for retained placenta: Your doctor may massage your belly, ask you to breastfeed or give you medications that encourage your uterus to contract and expel (deliver) the placenta. In severe cases, your doctor will remove the placenta manually.

Risk Factors for Placenta Conditions

Currently, doctors and scientists do not understand what causes placenta conditions. Many factors affect placenta health. You may be at a higher risk for placenta conditions if you:

● Have high blood pressure
● Use tobacco and other substances
● Have blood clotting disorders
● Are over age 40 while pregnant
● Had previous surgery to the uterus, including a Cesarean section

Make an Appointment 

Whether you visit us virtually through a video visit or you see us in person, you can be assured that we will deliver the highest standards of care with compassion. Our team has taken every step to keep our facilities safe for you to continue your care. Learn more about our safety measures and the changes we’ve made to enhance your patient experience.

Meet Our Physicians 

The physicians at the Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology offer patients the highest level of safety and care. As a top-ranked academic medical center, you have access to our extensive network of specialists who provide seamless care throughout your treatment — to promote long-term physical and mental health.

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