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Placental abruption or detachment of the placenta before delivery

Outside the operation theatre, he held my arms firmly and gave me a gentle hug. With a voice charged with emotion, he said” Doc, thank you for saving my wife and my baby. Thank you." He was full of joy and gratitude. Tears were rolling down his cheeks as he spoke.

Barely an hour ago, his wife, M, 30 was admitted to the labour ward with severe abdominal pain and heavy vaginal bleeding. She was at the 38th week of her second pregnancy. When I examined her, the womb (uterus) was tense, hard and tender. Large clots were oozing out from the neck of the womb (cervix). Her blood pressure was raised at 150/95 mmHg. The baby’s heart rate was low at 110 beats minutes which suggested a lack of oxygen supply to it.

I performed a Caesarean section right away. At the operation, there was a large amount of blood clot behind the placenta, which had peeled off prematurely from its bed. The baby was delivered quickly and cried well after resuscitation.

M had a serious complication of pregnancy called placental abruption or detachment of the placenta before delivery. The placenta is a structure that connects the baby to the mother’s womb via the umbilical cord. It supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby. If it is shed off from the wall of the uterus prematurely, both the mother and the baby can be in danger.

This condition is not common occurring in 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies. There are various factors that make placental abruption happen more easily. These include:

· Past history of placental abruption

· Previous caesarean section

· Raised blood pressure during pregnancy

· Maternal age over 35 years of age

· Smoking