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The main symptom of placenta previa is sudden, painless vaginal bleeding that often occurs near the end of the second trimester or beginning of the third trimester. In some cases, there is severe bleeding, or hemorrhage. The bleeding may stop on its own but can start again days or weeks later.
There may be uterine cramping with the bleeding. Labor sometimes starts within several days after heavy vaginal bleeding. However, in some cases, bleeding may not occur until after labor starts.
Your health care provider can diagnose placenta previa with an ultrasound exam. Most cases of placenta previa are identified by routine ultrasound during pregnancy.
Francois KE, Foley MR. Antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics - Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2007:chap 18.
Houry DE, Abbott JT. Acute complications of pregnancy. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 177.
Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al . Obstetrical hemorrhage. In: Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al, eds. Williams Obstetrics. 22nd ed. New York, NY; McGraw-Hill; 2005:chap 35.
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