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Placenta Previa Seen at the 20 Week Ultrasound

One of the most common problems spotted at the 20 week ultrasound is placenta previa. Placenta previa is where the placenta is nearby, or actually covering some or all of the cervix. It’s a potentially dangerous condition because if the placenta covers the cervix, it blocks baby’s way out, requiring a cesarean section to deliver the baby. And more seriously, as the cervix dilates towards the end of pregnancy, the placenta can be torn and bleed, which can be life-threatening to mom and baby.

Complete or partial placenta previa, where the placenta covers at least a quarter, or even all of the cervix, occurs in around 1 in 200 pregnancies, and requires careful monitoring by your doctor.

And more common is a marginal placenta previa, where the placenta is close by, or touching the cervix, but not actually covering it.

At 20 weeks, when the placenta is relatively large compared to the size of the uterus, many women appear to have placenta previa. The ultrasound technician will note the position of the placenta, so your doctor is aware and can discuss it with you. The doctor will probably tell you to avoid intercourse, heavy lifting, and strenuous activity. Your husband will be thrilled that he has to do the vacuuming instead of sex.

Several moms I know, including me, had marginal placenta previa at 20 weeks. At my next obstetrician appointment, the doctor explained what it was. The position of the placenta is largely random, but there are risk factors to placenta previa, including previous cesarean sections, a history of placenta previa, and it’s more common in older moms. Apparently, smoking or using cocaine also increases the risk, my doctor told me, raising one eyebrow. What? I’ve never smoked and the only kind of coke I know comes in a red can with a swirl on it.

The good news is that for most women who have marginal placenta previa at 20 weeks, as your uterus grows, the placenta gets further from the cervix and you’ll likely be given the all-clear to get back to normal activities by 24-28 weeks. Your doctor will schedule another ultrasound to check the position of the placenta at that time. If the placenta is now clear of the cervix, then vaccuming, etcetera are back on.

I had another ultrasound at 25 weeks, and like 90% of moms with marginal placenta previa at 20 weeks, my placenta was in a normal position, and the rest of my pregnancy went smoothly, except for having to think of other excuses to not vacuum.

If you are pregnant, and experience any vaginal bleeding, get checked by a doctor asap. If you have been told you have, or may have placenta previa, it is important to let the doctor who examines you know, as they will need to take extra precautions when they examine you to avoid causing any damage to your placenta.

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28 Comments on "Placenta Previa Seen at the 20 Week Ultrasound"

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Ledz Sotto
4 years 1 month ago

Thank u ladies for giving me hope
i was diagnosed with complete placenta previa at my 10 weeks and i was worried about it. I was not bleeding too.My doctor didnt ask me to have a bed rest. Should i take a second option?

[…] did notice was that Baby A’s placenta is partially covering the cervix. This is considered partial placenta previa, but it is not clear if this will become a problem until later on in the pregnancy. As my uterus […]

5 years 3 months ago

It’s good to know and be aware of Placenta Previa. This will be our first baby and I’d certainly like to be able to discuss this with our gynecologist just to make sure that I’m not into that kind of situation .. or if I am, to know exactly what needs to be done.

5 years 8 months ago

I was told I had complete placenta previa at 18 weeks. My doctor advised me to not do any heavy lifting and absolutely no sex. They said you can cause bleeding of the placenta. My doctor had me do another ultrasound 4 weeks later which then they said it had moved 4 cm away from the cervix what a relief so happy. Don’t stress out cause as your baby grows it moves up.

6 years 2 months ago
I’m pregnant with my first child at 19 weeks and really worried something isn’t right. I haven’t felt the baby move yet even though at my 12 week scan the baby was perfectly healthy! My 20 week scan is in 1 week and it just seems too long to wait as I’m worrying so bad. My cousin had a stillborn birth at 28 weeks and I’m worried the same may happen. Also I have been smoking up until today! Yes I know I shoildnt smoke as this child is all I want but its easier to judge! I had some… Read more »
7 years 15 days ago


7 years 3 months ago
This has been very informal. I was diagnosed with complete previa at 19 weeks and it scared me. I was already dilated 2 cm and effaced 75%. The doctor prepared me for the worst by telling me everything that could go wrong, including bleeding to death. I am now 21 weeks and only have marginal previa and looks as though in a couple weeks I’ll be out of the woods. Looks as though ill be having a normal delivery instead of a c-section without any further problems. My advice to mommy’s to be that have been diagnosed is don’t stress… Read more »
7 years 5 months ago
Hi, thanks for all this information Ladies & Gentlemen! I was diagnosed with Partial Placenta Previa when I noticed spotting after work at my 14 week mark. I am not going on 17 weeks, when i went to the doctor last week they did an ultrasound on me and I still had the previa, and after the doctor I spotted for another 2 days. I have worried myself to death, but that is the last thing I need to do. I went from smoking a whole pack a day to cutting down to 2 a day. So I am assuming… Read more »
7 years 6 months ago
i have placenta previa catorgry 3 i was diagnosied with it at 19 weeks and 3 days ago i just had servere cramping and spotting for 1 hr but i didnt go hospital i rang them up let them know they put it on my records. but when i went to doctor the next day she put me on complete bed rest and i am not aloud to look after my 4 children i had to put them in other care untill futher notice and my husband does everything and all i do now is lye down so my pelvic… Read more »
7 years 8 months ago

I had complete placenta previa during my first pregnancy. I was never put on bed rest.I delivered by emergency c-section at 35 weeks due to bleeding. My baby did great and so did I. Now with my second pregnancy, I again have placenta previa (partial this time) at 20 weeks. My doc has so far not put me on any restrictions, I just try to be careful of course. God bless to all of you ladies and your babies!!!!

7 years 8 months ago
I recently had a u/s and they told me that the placenta was low but did not put me on any restrictions said we would do another one around 28 weeks. The responses on here worried me because I have had no bleeding but a lot of spasms that I call braxton hix I had them early with both of my other children. From what else I have read online it is not that serious. I am not sure how I feel about my doctor yet. This pregnancy in general has been very complex. High blood pressure ( from my… Read more »
Faith D
7 years 8 months ago
I am 16 weeks today. I went to the emergency room at 11 weeks with spotting and was told that I had a complete placenta previa. I was also told that at such an early stage that it could be a false positive. The hospital I went to also told me that they specialized in heart trauma and did not have all the specialized equipment for pre-natal as those that hade a specific pre-natal ward. They suggested I go to my doctor for further instructions. My doctor told me it could be nothing to worry about and thatr many women… Read more »
7 years 11 months ago

I’m in your same boat Elaine, I was diagnosed with placenta previa 2 weeks ago (18 weeks)and they told me that I can continue living a normal life. She dindn’t say anything about no sex. She even allowed me to continue with my pre natal yoga classes. I’m also wondering if should I ask a second opinion..
I’ll have an U.S. in 2 more weeks (at 22 weeks) to see if the placenta has moved. Fingers crossed! because I have to fly back to my home country in september (a 10 hours flight)
Good luck to all you ladies!

8 years 25 days ago

I was just diagnosed with complete previa at 20 weeks, and they didn’t put me on any restrictions, and told me they would do another ultrasound at 34 weeks. They don’t seem concerned. Reading about all these other women put on bed rest at 20 weeks with no bleeding makes me concerned, though- should I be getting a second opinion?

8 years 27 days ago

My wife and i went for a scan at 20weeks and the doctor said we had a marg. previa and that it may change as it progresses we were afraid cos we had our first issue through C\S. on reading this article our hope is restored. goodluck to all mothers

8 years 1 month ago

At about 17-18 weeks i had an ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby. At 20 weeks I was diagnosed with partial placenta previa, my midwife asked me to take it slow no intercourse no heavy lifting, but I am allowed to continue working. I’m worried I hope my baby is able to be born strong & health 🙁

8 years 2 months ago

I am currently going on my 21st week of pregnancy. Today at my doctor appointment, the doctor tols me that I had previa. He also instructed me not to have intercourse and not to lift anything more than 10 pounds. After reading several articles trying to educate myself, I am finiding myself in distress. Hopefully all is well. He will be keeping a close eye on me and I am scheduled for an exam in two weeks. I do understand the fear and distress for all the parents experiencing it.

8 years 3 months ago


My wife had vaginal bleeding and the doctor (in US) did ultrasound to confirm marginal previa. The ultrasound was done in conjuction with detailed fetal anatomy ultrasound. The insurance provider didn’t want to cover the ultrasound.

Now my wife is scheduled for a follow up ultrasound on the previa evaluation. I wonder if insurance provider should cover it this time?

Anyone has problem with utlrasound for previa insurance coverage in the US?

8 years 4 months ago

Thank you for the good article!
I am in Tanzania, and my work involves too much travelling..
I am now 21 weeks pregnant and on my 20th week scan my doctor told me that I have a placenta previa but I shouldn’t worry about it now, But I am worried. I will be going for my next scan on 28th week. I hope everything will be normal again cause I really want to have my first baby in a more natural vaginal birth. This article has given me hopes..

8 years 5 months ago


I had bleeding during 10th and 11th week of pregnancy and diagnosed with placenta previa at 17th week.After shedding lots of tears, I am currently on bed rest hoping and praying to be normal after 24th week when my next scan is scheduled.

8 years 6 months ago

Hello I started spotting at 12 weeks and went to the doctor she told me I had placenta previa too. Iam so sad n scared bc I dnt want to loose my baby. But Ive been on bed rest ever since and my next appointment is in a month I really hope that my placenta corrects itself. I think its only covering some part of my cervix but still better safe than sorry. Good luck to everyone!

8 years 9 months ago

I was diagnosed with marginal placenta previa at 22 weeks. I went back for a scan a month later and my placenta had not moved. I am having another scan in a few weeks to check if it has moved. I am on a lot of bed rest, no strenuous activities, no long car drives or lifting. I am really hoping this will have resolved in the next few weeks as it is a pain in the butt. I am normally so active.

8 years 11 months ago a bit relaxed..i was diagnosed with a complete placenta previa at my 17th week..thanks God that things may change..i hope they will..thanks for the good has greatly helped..

9 years 3 months ago

thanks for this article. My wife who is on 20t month did her US scanning and she was told that there is marginal placenta praevia, she called me before she see her doctor and i was bit tensed but after reading this I am feeling ok.. thank you so much again

9 years 6 months ago

I had vaginal bleeding and was diagnosed with complete placeta previa at 17 weeks. My cervix was in the center of my placenta. After 3 weeks of bed rest and lots of worry i went in for an ultrasound and it had migrated, and corrected itself. So even the worst possible case can resolve itself. There is hope.

9 years 10 months ago

Your article sets my mind at ease… im in China a long way from home (Australia) and was told I had placenta previa at 25 weeks…. to be honest I was scared beyond measures until i read this article. So thankyou and prayers for my next ultra sound tomorrow (at 28weeks) I hope things have changed! But at least i know what to look out for and be aware of.

[…] developed the condition called placenta previa. This condition occurs when the placenta is attached to the uterine wall sometimes covering the […]

10 years 15 days ago

Thanks alot for sharing this article!yesterday I had my ultrasound at 21 weeks and I was diagnosed as placenta previa!I don’t know which kind!but I know my placenta is in 2 cm of my cervix!I am so scared and terrified!I have a long(13 hours) flight at my 31 weeks!I don’t know how to deal with it!reading this article helped me to be relax!as you mentioned as the uterus grows, the placenta gets further from the cervix by 28 weeks!thanks

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