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Placental Insufficiency: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

The placenta is a large organ that forms in your uterus when you are pregnant. It supplies your baby with nutrients and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

The placenta does not always develop normally. This can mean that the placenta is too small, too thick, or too thin. Or it may not be attached well to the uterus. If the placenta is not normal, your baby may not get the needed food and oxygen.

Placental insufficiency may cause your baby to grow more slowly or there to be less amniotic fluid around your baby. This can be related to high blood pressure in pregnancy and pre-eclampsia.

Your healthcare provider will watch your baby's growth and health carefully during your pregnancy. You may have ultrasound tests more often to give you and your healthcare provider information about your baby's growth and how much amniotic fluid there is. Your healthcare provider may advise you to follow a plan to help you have a healthy baby.

If your healthcare provider thinks that your baby's health is at risk, you may need to see them more often and, in some cases, they may recommend an early delivery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your healthcare provider or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Stay at a healthy weight during your pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much weight gain is healthy for you.
  • Eat a healthy diet that include vegetables, fruits, protein, and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Choose mostly water throughout the day. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your healthcare provider before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about when you can go back to your routine activity or light exercise.
  • Learn ways to cope with stress. This can help you and support a healthy environment for your developing baby (Mental Health During Pregnancy - Healthy Parents Healthy Children).
  • Take time every day to relax, rest, and get enough sleep—nap if you need to.
  • Cut down on caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, and energy drinks (Eating & Food Safety During Pregnancy - Healthy Parents Healthy Children).
  • Do not use tobacco or tobacco-like products, including cannabis, and other substances. They can harm your health. They also affect your baby’s growth, health, and the development of their brain and lungs. If you need help to use less or quit, talk to your healthcare provider, or go to the Alberta Quits website.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol affects everyone differently and may be a risk to your health. Alcohol passes through the placenta to your baby and can cause problems with your baby’s growth, health, and development.
  • In your third trimester, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about how often to count your baby’s movements. For information on how to count your baby’s movements, go to: Fetal Movement Count Chart (albertahealthservices.ca).
  • Pregnancy can be an emotional and unpredictable time. When you have complications in your pregnancy you may have more stress. This can lead to other concerns for you and your family. Talk to your healthcare provider about how you’re feeling and any concerns you have.

When should you call for help?

Share this information with your partner or a friend. They can help you watch for warning signs.

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.

Call your healthcare provider, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have any vaginal bleeding.
  • You have pain in your belly or pelvis.
  • You think that you are in labour or are having contractions of your uterus with or without pain (6 or more in 1 hour).
  • You have a sudden release of fluid from your vagina.
  • If you are in your third trimester and you notice that your baby has stopped moving or moves less than 6 times in 2 hours.
  • You have symptoms of pre-eclampsia, such as:
    • Headache that will not go away.
    • Sudden weight gain.
    • Sudden swelling of your hands and face.
    • Problems with your vision.
    • Very bad pain in your upper abdomen (belly).
    • Sudden, unexplained nausea or vomiting.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your healthcare provider, midwife, or nurse call line if you have any questions or concerns.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter I213 in the search box to learn more about "Placental Insufficiency: Care Instructions".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.