What is an anterior placenta? Experts explain

Before pregnancy, you could probably count the number of times you said the word “placenta” on one hand. Once you’re pregnant, the placenta becomes an organ that you and your healthcare professionals have endless conversations about. The placenta gives your baby the oxygen and food she needs. And while it’s affixed to the wall of the uterus, it can take different positions: It can be positioned on the sides, the back, or the front. The placenta can also be found at the top or bottom of the uterus. When your placenta is in the front of your uterus, it is called an anterior placenta. And, in general, an anterior placenta is nothing to worry about.

What is an anterior placenta?

A placenta that settles on the anterior wall of the uterus is called an anterior placenta. If it’s on the back wall of the uterus, it’s posterior; at the top of the uterus, it’s fundal, says Donna Neale, MD, assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Any of these places is fine,” Neale tells Romper.

Should I be concerned about an anterior placenta?

Not necessarily. “In terms of pregnancy risks, the ‘ideal’ place for the placenta can be any of these locations,” explains Neale, “as long as it doesn’t cover the cervix either, that we call a placenta previa, or near the cervix, which we call a low placenta. Placenta previa often needs to be watched because it can block the baby’s exit and require a cesarean delivery.

However, do not assume that an anterior placenta is a potential indicator of placenta previa. “Placenta previas or low placentas are not unique to an anterior placenta. They can also occur with posterior placentas, ”explains Neale.

While having an anterior placenta does not carry any increased risks for the pregnancy, says Neale, one circumstance that could potentially prove that it is more risky is if the parent needs a cesarean delivery and the placenta is found. in the lower uterine segment of the uterus, which is the part of the uterus where the incision for a cesarean section is made, says Neale. “Depending on the low position of the anterior placenta in the uterus, the the surgeon may have to cut through the placenta to reach the baby at the time of delivery.

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What should I do if I have a previous placenta?

As long as you don’t also have placenta previa, you don’t need to take any special precautions during your pregnancy, says Neale. As with any pregnancy and placenta placement, one precaution should be to avoid trauma, says Diana Ramos, MD, OB-GYN and clinical assistant professor at the Keck USC School of Medicine. For example, be very careful with toddlers running around and be careful that they don’t risk hitting your stomach or falling and hitting your abdomen, Ramos says. “In general, this is a low risk, but it is advisable to absolutely seek care during labor and delivery.”

Keep in mind, however, that an anterior placenta can impact how you feel as your baby grows in your body. “Some women with an anterior placenta will report feeling less fetal movement, especially early in pregnancy, because the anterior placenta essentially eases fetal movement,” says Neale. How it works ? Well, you can think of the placenta as a pillow between the baby and your skin, says Ramos. “Fetal movement may be felt ‘less’, especially in first-time pregnant people who may not know what to expect in terms of fetal movement. If you have an anterior placenta, you might feel fetal movement lower in your abdomen, Ramos explains. As the pregnancy progresses and the fetal movements become stronger, most women will experience as much fetal movement as women with a posterior placenta, explains Neale.

The essential ? This position of the placenta alone shouldn’t cause you any additional worries. However, always discuss this with your caregivers to make sure there are no potential complications. “As long as the placenta is not too close to the cervix or covering the cervix, there are no increased risks to the mother or fetus during pregnancy or childbirth. “, explains Neale.


Donna Neale, MD, Assistant Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Diana Ramos, M..D, OB-GYN and Assistant Clinical Assistant Professor Keck USC School of Medicine

Referenced studies:

Rathbun, KM, Hildebrand, JP Abnormalities of the placenta. StatPearls editions. 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29083591/

Hong, DH, Kim, E., Kyeong, KS, Hong, SH, Jeong, EH Safety of cesarean delivery through placental incision in patients with anterior placenta Previa. Obstetrics and Gynecology Sciences. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4796079/#:~:text=Conclusion,considéred%20a%20safe%20surgical%20technique

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