Retained Placenta Risks & Complications

Retained Placenta Risks & Complications

by / Wednesday, 21 April 2021 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
Pregnant woman in hospital bed.

When complications occur with the placenta, the baby is typically the one who faces the most serious risks because of the possibility that it could interfere with oxygen delivery. But in some situations, a problem with the placenta can cause serious problems for the mother instead.

During the typical process of giving birth, the placenta is delivered within 30 minutes after the birth of the child. But if this doesn’t happen on its own and either the entire placenta stays inside or parts of it remain, it’s a condition known as retained placenta. While this type of complication is relatively rare, occurring in approximately 2%-3% of all births, it can cause a postpartum hemorrhage if not properly treated.

Types of Retained Placenta

Retained placenta can occur in a few different ways. The most common type is known as “placenta adherens,” which occurs when contractions aren’t strong enough to fully expel the placenta and the placenta remains partially attached. If the placenta detaches but isn’t expelled as it should be, this is known as trapped placenta. The most severe type is known as placenta accreta, which is when the placenta is too deeply attached to the uterus to be delivered naturally.

Risk Factors for Retained Placenta

Retained placenta is a type of complication that can happen to anyone, even if their pregnancy has otherwise been healthy and without issue. However, there are some factors which increase the odds of it occurring:

  • The mother is over the age of 30

  • Premature delivery

  • Prolonged first and second stages of labor

  • Previous C-sections

  • Retained placenta occurring in previous deliveries

  • Delivering a stillborn baby

Treating & Preventing Retained Placenta

Unfortunately, there are no proven ways to prevent a retained placenta, but things like uterine massage, controlled cord traction, and pitocin may be helpful. If retained placenta occurs, treating it will depend on the type of retained placenta. For example, in a case of placenta accreta will likely require surgery, possibly even a hysterectomy. In other cases, a doctor may be able to manually remove the placenta or the pieces of it or administer medication that will encourage the uterus to contract and force out the remaining placenta. If these options don’t work, surgery may be necessary.

Get Help from a Birth Trauma Lawyer

If a retained placenta isn’t properly treated and you experience postpartum hemorrhage, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. Very often, birth trauma cases involve medical malpractice, which is a very complex area of law. You’ll need someone on your side who knows the law and has the experience needed to get results.

At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer who has worked with other Michigan birth trauma victims and can make sure your case is handled appropriately. Contact us today for help with your case.

Image: iStock / Motortion

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