Types of Placenta Previa and How Risky Each of Them Is

Types of Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is a condition that is most commonly noticed in the later stages of pregnancy. A form of painless bleeding, this is most often seen after or during the twentieth week. In a normal situation, the placenta attaches to inner surface of uterus. However, in the case of the placenta previa, the placenta attaches close to the uterus’ outlet. This results in bleeding.

Often the types of placenta previa determine the intensity of bleeding and severity of the condition. Broadly there are three or four types of this condition.

Various Gradation or Types of Placenta Previa

Technically, the severity determines the types of placenta previa. There are four major types or grades of development. The lowest one is the first type, and the most severe condition is type 4. The amount of the cervix covered by the Placenta also contributes to this gradation in ascending order.

Placenta Previa Type 1

Placenta Previa Type 1As the number indicates, this is the minor version of the placenta previa. Most times, in this situation, the placenta is quite close to the cervix but does not cover it. At best, you can attribute this growth to be a side by side development.

  • In most cases, the placenta growth is in the womb upper part.
  • However, there are some cases where this might extend to the lower part too.
  • But the only solace is this condition is not too threatening or painful.
  • It occurs mostly in one in 200 pregnancies.
  • But there is no way to stop this condition.
  • Most times, it can be identified during regular ultrasound.

Though there is a school of thought that suggests more bed rest in case of minor or type 1 placenta previa, the jury is out on that one. There is no conclusive study yet to establish that increased bed rest can impact the placenta placement or lessen the amount of bleeding. However, given the delicate condition, rest can help you both physically and mentally. It relaxes the body and mind and empowers the person to deal better with this medical condition.

Closely following the body’s development and monitoring the fetus at regular intervals is the only way to deal with this condition. The doctors normally monitor the baby’s heartbeat at this stage to make sure that it remains strong and the overall health of the baby is satisfactory.

Though not a regular practice, your doctor may choose to keep you in hospital for closer monitoring of the fetus’ development. This is mostly to rule out emergencies in any kind of situation.

Placenta Previa Type 2

Placenta Previa Type 2This is marginally more severe than type 1, but here also the risk is fairly limited. This is because even in this condition, the cervix opening is not covered fully. In this case,

  • The placenta growth is such that it reaches the cervix
  • However, the placenta does not cover the cervix yet
  • The cervix opening remains fairly independent of the outgrowth in most cases
  • This normally accompanies the usual symptoms like bleeding and cramping
  • The degree of bleeding or cramps might be slightly more pronounced as compared to the type 1 condition

But the good news is that this is still a marginally okay situation and is most frequently anywhere between the 30-36 week period. Before this, the bleeding, if at all, is mostly like vaginal spotting. The cramps at this stage can be slightly more intense, and discomfort might increase too.

The baby’s position is one of the key factors to watch out for at this juncture. There are chances of the breech position of the baby. However, that’s something for the doctors to monitor and take a call as per that. Typically, this is because the placenta previa occupies the space where the baby’s head moves. As a result of this, the fetus is forced to stay in, and that results in the breech position eventually.

Placenta Previa Type 3

Placenta Previa Type 3This is a relatively severe condition of placenta previa. In this case, the placenta covers a wider portion of the cervix opening. This, as a result, creates discomfort for the mother and the baby both. It is a considerably major stage of the placenta previa and often results in C-section delivery. It is a worrying stage as –

  • The placenta not just reaches the cervix, it covers it partially too
  • It creates an obstruction and definitively hinders the head movement of the fetus
  • Essentially, it blocks the way of the natural birth canal
  • In most cases, this results in a c-section delivery
  • It is accompanied by bleeding and cramps in most cases

Immediate medical assistance is absolutely necessary at this stage, and the patient needs hospitalization too. Often the hospitalization helps in ensuring that the patient is consistently under medical attention. This rules out the risk of any complication with the pregnancy.

Only about one in 150-160 pregnancies experience this condition. Though rare, you can solace the fact that it hardly hampers the fetus’s growth and development in any way. It is only an external tissue growth attached to the uterine inner surface. This just reduces the overall space for the baby’s movement, one of the key reasons for the Breech position.

Doctors often monitor the amount of open cervix. This helps them take a call on how to proceed with the c-section. This amount of opening determines the urgency of the procedure in this case. It is a situation that is considerably delicate. It needs to be closely monitored. Often doctors in this situation may start monitoring the baby’s development more closely and call for more frequent checks. The bleeding is often very disconcerting for the pregnant mother.

Placenta Previa Type 4

Placenta Previa Type 4This is the final and the most severe types of placenta previa. This is because of both the extent to which it covers the cervix opening and also the accompanying symptoms. In both ways, it is a situation where the patient is in maximum discomfort. As the placenta covers the cervix opening completely, the severity of bleeding is often quite worrying.

  • It covers the cervix opening completely, and as a result, this adds to the symptoms
  • This generally accompanies with severe cramps and bleeding
  • This is decidedly the most serious manifestation of the condition
  • The baby is in breech position due to this condition

At this stage, the bay’s breech position is what the most worrying bit is. Often multiple pregnancies and smoking increase the risk of this condition. This increases the likelihood of other abnormalities of the uterus too.

Often if the pregnant mother had a D&C procedure earlier, it increases the possibility of the complete closure of the cervix by the placenta previa. This is most commonly identified in second or later pregnancies. However, no direct connection with the age of the pregnant woman is established in this case.

In this condition, if you experience severe bleeding, doctors may suggest immediate delivery. Often this triggers premature labor too. In some cases, steroids are administered to strengthen the baby’s lungs before delivery. But this is not a common occurrence and happens rarely. Often it is one in 200-250 deliveries.

So that way, immediate medical attention and being vigilant about your health are the only way to go about it. This will keep unnecessary complications at bay. It also cuts down the risk of any harm to the unborn child at any stage as well. This is, of course, the most important factor to lookout.


Therefore, irrespective of the types of placenta previa, care is the name of the game. As the diagnosis is towards the later part of the pregnancy, your plans for a natural delivery might get hindered. In most cases, as much as 75-80 percent of the time, women deliver via C-section in this kind of scenario. This is because the bleeding induced by the placenta previa is often intimidating, even if it is harmless, for pregnant women. No one wants to take a chance, given the pregnancy is usually past the 20-week mark.

The good news is that most women with even the most severe types of placenta previa, deliver healthy babies. They also suffer very little eventually. But you have to be very vigilant and careful. Any abnormality or bleeding has to be addressed immediately. The swifter you act, the better it is for the baby and you. It rules out chances of complications that much faster.

The most important thing is staying cool and not let this hamper your inner strength and positivity. Both for the baby and as well as you, this will give you the best chance to fight. It also helps you cut down stress related to worries about delivery. All in all, remember it is possible to deliver a perfectly healthy child even with placenta previa.

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