Placental Lakes – Do They Affect Pregnancy?

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Dr. Deepinder Kaur (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)
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Placental Lakes - Do They Affect Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy is a time of joy, celebration and curiosity, and wonder and worry. A new mom-to-be can experience various uncertainties when she is unsure of the changes her body is undergoing. Even the slightest of aches can be worrying, and you can lose sleep over it, unless it is quickly verified by the doctor. Placental lakes is one such instance that can cause panic, and may seem quite intimidating till the time you find out what it exactly is.

What Are Placental Venous Lakes During Pregnancy?

The pools of blood that lie on the placenta surface or sometimes inside the placenta are known as placental lakes, and an ultrasound test can be used to locate these bleeds. During scans, they can be seen as a black mass on the front wall of the womb above the baby. Most women notice placental lakes in the third trimester, or before, when the ultrasound is carried out. They can be worried about its outcome. Fortunately, neither your pregnancy nor your baby will be affected in any way.

Are Placental Lakes Something Serious?

Placental lakes often do not lead to any kind of serious complications, but it is prudent to seek medical advice and keep your doctor informed. It is found that women with thick placentas are prone to developing placental lakes. The doctor will keep an eye on the baby’s development in case of placental lakes in the second trimester, since it can lead to a less-than-average fetus size.

However, if the placental lake covers more than 10% of the placenta and seems abnormally large, there is a minimal risk of placenta accreta. In this case, the doctor will ask for an ultrasound to be done, especially if there are multiple, large placental lakes. If the mother-to-be has had a uterine surgery in the past, or if the placental lake is abnormally close to the cervical os, it will need further diagnosis. The ultrasound will clear all doubts about its occurrence.

Women often think that placental lakes can lead to hemorrhage during childbirth, but this isn’t true. Most women have risk-free pregnancies, and their babies are born healthy, despite having placental lakes.

What Causes Placental Lakes?

Currently, no perceivable causes of placental lakes have been identified. Since we are unaware of the causes yet, there is little that can be done to prevent them from occurring. Any worries about smoking, or other habits increasing the chances of placental lakes, could be misplaced till the time the right causes are identified.

Are There Complications of Placental Lakes?

Are There Complications of Placental Lakes?

Placental lakes commonly do not lead to major complications. There are certain instances when pregnant women may face some problems, but they are not due to placental lakes. Let’s take a look at a few complications that can affect pregnant women, which may be mistaken to be caused by placental lakes:

1. Placental Abruption

This is a life-threatening medical condition which can lead to the death of the mother or baby, or both, in certain cases. Placental abruption is often caused by an anemic condition of the mother and multi-parity, but placental lakes are not even remotely connected to this condition.

2. High Blood Pressure or Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy-related problem, but is not caused by placental lakes. In fact, obesity, lesions in the placenta, or the body’s failure to process insulin effectively are primary causes of preeclampsia. High blood pressure can be caused by being overweight or due to stress, and is not connected to placental lakes.

3. Premature Labour

There can be severe health complications if the mother or the baby isn’t ready for delivery, but placental lakes are not directly responsible for any of them. In fact, premature labor or delivery can be caused due to high blood pressure or gestational diabetes in the mother.

Placental lakes may sound like an ominous medical term and cause worry amongst expectant mothers. It may so happen that your doctor may not even report its sighting during an ultrasound. Fortunately, you are not the only one to be detected with it, as most placentas can have one and sometimes even three placental lakes around the third trimester. Though it may not directly affect the baby or the birthing process, it is advisable to take medical advice if it is noticed during scans.

Also Read: Heartburn During Pregnancy

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