Separation of the Placenta Before Delivery of the Baby (Abruption)
The placenta is the part of the uterus that supplies blood and oxygen to the baby during its development inside the uterus. In all deliveries, after the baby is delivered, the placenta will separate from the wall of the uterus and will then be expelled from the birth canal as the "after-birth."?
Once the baby is delivered, the placenta no longer has any function and it can be removed from the uterus without consequence. However, on some occasions, for reasons that are not completely understood, the placenta can separate, either partially or completely, before the baby is delivered. If the separation is complete, the baby has only minutes to be delivered before significant brain injury or death will occur. However, more often, the placenta will separate partially over some period of time, which allows the obstetrician or nurse to diagnose the condition and deliver the baby before there is any significant brain injury. When the degree of placental separation is significant, the fetus will show evidence of distress on the fetal monitor strip, and any delay in delivery will usually result in some brain injury. Often, the diagnosis of a placental abruption is not made until surgery when the obstetrician sees the placenta that is separated from the uterus after the baby is delivered.