First Time User? Enroll now.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, our visitor policy is evolving as well. Get full details.
For the most current information, please visit our Coronavirus resource pages.
Home > Health Library > Placental Abruption
Placental abruption is a pregnancy problem in which the placenta separates too early from the wall of the uterus. The placenta is a round, flat organ that forms during pregnancy. It gives the baby food and oxygen from your body.
Placental abruption can be very harmful. In rare cases, it can be deadly.
Placental abruption usually occurs in the third trimester. But it can happen at any time after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Doctors aren't sure what causes it, but some things can raise your risk. These are called risk factors. Common risk factors for placental abruption include:
Less common risk factors include:
If you have placental abruption, you may notice one or more warning signs. Call your doctor right away if you are pregnant and you:
You can't really tell how serious placental abruption is by the amount of vaginal bleeding. Sometimes the blood gets trapped between the placenta and the wall of the uterus. So there might be a serious problem even if there is only a little bleeding.
More serious symptoms include:
In rare cases, symptoms of shock are the only signs of a serious problem.
This problem can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:
If placental abruption is suspected, you'll probably need to be in the hospital until your doctor finds out how severe it is.
The kind of treatment you need will depend on:
If you have mild placental abruption and your baby is not in distress, you may not have to stay in the hospital.
If you have moderate to severe placental abruption, you will probably have to stay in the hospital so your baby's health can be watched closely.
If your baby is premature, he or she may be treated in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. The NICU is geared to the needs of premature or ill newborns.
There is no sure way to prevent placental abruption, but you can do things to lower your risk. Your risk is much higher than normal if you have had placental abruption before, so these steps are very important.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRSURemoved
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & RSURemoved
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.