Abruptio placentae, or placental abruption, is when the placenta partially or completely detaches prematurely from the uterus, causing a risk for hemorrhage. This is most often seen at 24-26 weeks gestation and is considered a serious complication. In mild cases, the patient may remain on restricted activity or bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy, but in more severe cases where there is maternal or fetal compromise, delivery is required. While placental abruption generally happens suddenly, chronic abruption may occur in which there is a small separation that causes slow bleeding behind the placenta.
Etiology is generally unknown, but risk factors include abdominal trauma, vascular disorders, hypertension (chronic or gestational), PROM or other rapid loss of amniotic fluid, infection, prior history of placental abruption, advanced maternal age (>35 yrs old) and maternal use of tobacco or cocaine. Complications of abruptio placentae include fetal growth restriction, distress or death, maternal blood loss and shock, blood clotting issues (DIC) and maternal kidney and organ failure.
Patient will have no or minimal bleeding; pain will be controlled, fetus will show no signs of distress
Advanced abruption and severe blood loss may lead to shock
Assess and monitor vaginal bleeding
Excessive bleeding may result in shock. Amount of obvious blood may not fully indicate severity due to possible internal bleeding
Obtain history from patient
Determine time bleeding began, any history of pregnancy complications or abdominal/uterine trauma
Place patient on bed rest in lateral position
This position helps avoid pressure on the vena cava to avoid decreased cardiac output
Initiate IV access with large bore line
IV fluids will be given to manage hypovolemia and blood transfusion may be required
Assess abdomen for uterine tenderness and contractions
Monitor maternal vitals for signs of shock
Watch for signs of hypovolemia to include tachycardia, tachypnea and hypotension
Place and observe external fetal monitoring for signs of fetal distress
This allows you to monitor fetal heart rate and contractions to observe for variability and responsiveness of the fetal heart rate. A lack of variability or decelerations indicate fetal distress.
Assess and manage pain
Provide patient education
Help patient to feel more informed and lessen anxiety and stress
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