Childbirth is always an experience to remember, especially when the whole process goes well. The good news is that most will and only some don’t. Many people have an idea of what a retained placenta is. This is one of those cases where childbirth doesn’t go as smooth as expected. Normally, the delivery of a baby is immediately followed by that of the placenta. Sometimes this fails to happen. Let’s see why.
What Is A Retained Placenta?
A placenta is retained when it does not follow the delivery of a baby within 30-60 minutes. During pregnancy, a baby can not survive without the placenta. It is a vital medium for gaseous exchange, transfer of nutrition and excretion of waste between the mother and baby. After a baby is born, the placenta has typically outlived its usefulness. This is why we expect it to detach from the mother’s body and follow the baby. When this fails to happen, many things can happen. The most dreaded problem is that of bleeding after birth(postpartum haemorrhage) that can cause the death of the mother.
Why Are Some Placentas Retained?
No one truly knows. All we have are possible factors that increase risk. A woman who had a retained placenta during a previous delivery is at increased risk of having one again. A previous C-section, uterine abnormalities, a stillborn baby and a premature delivery also increase risk. There are different scenarios in which the placenta is retained. Sometimes, it is because the uterine muscles fail to contract well enough to expel the placenta. Sometimes, the placenta is attached so deep to the uterus that it does not separate even with the most vigorous contractions of the mother. At other times, the placenta separates but can not leave the uterus because the cervix is already closed.
What Happens After A Placenta Is Retained?
Some people experience fever, persistent heavy bleeding which is very dangerous and severe cramping. Of course, the most reliable sign is the failure of the placenta to exit after baby delivery. The most important thing to do when this happens is to prevent postpartum haemorrhage which can kill the mother.
Treatment involves removing the retained placenta. This can be done manually or with instruments. Control Cord Traction (CCT) is a method used to remove a retained placenta. Uterine massage and use of a drug that contracts uterine muscles, oxytocin are other methods that can prevent retained placenta. None of these methods is failsafe. Every mother should register at the antenatal clinic for proper care. Your medical team will assess your risk of this problem and act accordingly.