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What is placenta previa?
Placenta previa is the most common cause of painless bleeding in the later stages of pregnancy (after the 20th week). The placenta is a temporary organ that joins the mother and fetus and transfers oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the fetus. The placenta is disk-shaped and at full term measures about seven inches in diameter. The placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus
(womb). Placenta previa is a complication that results from the placenta implanting either near to, or overlying, the outlet of the uterus (the
opening of the uterus, the cervix).
Because the placenta is rich in blood vessels, if it is implanted near the outlet of the uterus, bleeding can occur when the cervix dilates or stretches.