I decided to write this post after receiving some feedback on an Instagram picture I posted a few weeks ago. The photo touched on the fact I have placenta previa and women with similar situations have been contacting me. And while my story does not suffice for medical advice, I want to shed some light on how I’m dealing with it. If you have placenta previa, chances are this blog post is not your first stop- you’ve asked questions and have done your research. Please, please, follow the advice of your doctor. It’s for the safety of you and your baby.
All women go into pregnancy expecting to deal with morning sickness, moodiness, weight gain, and possible stretch marks., but hardly any of us expect to deal with anything more serious. Or at least we pray we won’t have to. For the most part we assume we’ll sail through the 40 weeks, experience a normal delivery, and have a healthy baby to take home.
I certainly never thought I’d be dealing with anything more.
I’ve always been very active and conscious of what I eat, have never touched a cigarette in my life, and drank alcohol maybe once a year when we weren’t trying to conceive. I even dropped workout supplements and started taking prenatal vitamins six months prior to getting pregnant to prepare my body to carry a baby.
Point is, I was healthy when I got pregnant and still am. The majority of mommas are….yet we still run into bumps in the road.
Overall I’ve been lucky with this pregnancy, so I can’t really complain. All bloods tests so far have come back negative (knocks on wood), the baby is growing well and is healthy from what we can tell, and I haven’t had any side effects other than fatigue and the occasional round ligament pain.
But, still, there are two major complications hanging over my head. Neither I have any control over and both are potentially serious.
- I’m O- blood type. This means I’m missing the Rh factor most people have. It isn’t a big deal during my daily life, but it can affect my pregnancy.
Typically the mother’s blood doesn’t mix with baby’s blood until delivery. But if an Rh- mom’s blood mixes with the Rh+ baby, her body will start producing Rh antibodies to attack the “foreign body” (aka, the baby). The baby could become anemic and need to be delivered early depending on the severity. Extremely severe cases may require blood transfusions for baby and mother. It takes a while for the mom’s blood to produce enough antibodies to harm the baby, so being Rh negative doesn’t usually affect first pregnancies, but it can affect future pregnancies.
The good news is a shot exists to prevent this from happening. It’s called the RhoGAM shot and is given around 28 weeks gestation and again immediately after birth. Essentially the shot causes the mom’s body to produce antibodies against the serum, not the baby. The shot won’t work if the mom’s body is already producing antibodies, but that’s the worst case scenario. Otherwise there shouldn’t be any issues for current or future pregnancies.
It also isn’t an issue if the baby has Rh- blood, too, but that’s rare.
2. I was diagnosed with partial placenta previa at 18 weeks.
The placenta is normally placed high and behind the baby. Mine is low and in front of the baby. So low, it’s partially covering the cervix, meaning it would be impossible for the baby to be born naturally right now. Of course I wouldn’t want to give birth this early, but you get the picture.
A is normal, B is marginal, C is partial, and D is complete.
The biggest risks associated with previa occur during birth, namely placenta abruption, premature labor, and the need for a cesarean delivery. (But that’s in extreme cases. Don’t let this post scare you!) The condition isn’t necessarily dangerous during pregnancy. In fact many women don’t have any symptoms during pregnancy and only find out during or after the 18 week ultrasound.
The most common symptom during pregnancy is painless bleeding. And given my blood condition, that could poses additional problems. My doctor put me on moderate restrictions to reduce the risk of any further complications. Including:
- no heavy lifting—particularly anything that puts pressure on the abdomen like squats, leg press, lunges, or step-ups
- no “jarring” motions like running or jumping
- no sex
I know! All the good things!!
I can’t lie, getting put on these restrictions hurt. I’m a personal trainer. I genuinely love to weightlift and enjoy running. I (semi-jokingly) told the doctor he was taking away part of my identity…but, really, it’s a small price to pay for the health of my baby.
Under doctor supervision, I’ve changed my workout and work routine.
- lighter weight and more reps for all body parts
- avoid all compound leg exercises- NO squats, leg press, deadlifts, lunges, and step ups (anything that puts excess pressure on my core)
- avoid any direct abdominal work
- add more steady state cardio- ideally sticking to the elliptical, riding the recumbent bike, or walking on the treadmill
- pass on some of the lifting duties to my clients so I won’t have to move so much weight all day
- avoid lifting any weight from below knee level or from above the head (such as racking and unracking certain machines)
Since mine is only partial previa, it’s likely to move out of the way as my belly expands (knocks on wood again), but there’s a small chance it won’t. If it doesn’t move, I’ll likely be put on bed res for the remainder of pregnancy and need a cesarean for delivery.
My next sonogram appointment is in 4 weeks to check if it’s progressed any. Fingers crossed for improvement!
|| Disclaimer, again: My doctors know I’m a personal trainer and that lifting is literally part of my job. They also know I’ve been staying active with limitations. Placenta previa is a serious medical condition and should be treated as such. I have partial placenta previa, so the restrictions aren’t near what they are with complete previa. If you’ve been told you have any degree of placenta previa, talk to your doctor. This blog post does not suffice for medical advice. ||