Can Pushing on Your Belly Hurt the Baby With Anterior Placenta?

If you have an anterior placenta in pregnancy, it means that the placenta, which nourishes the baby throughout pregnancy, has implanted on the side of the uterus closest to your abdominal wall. An anterior placenta might make it harder for you to feel the baby move and also harder to hear the heartbeat through the abdominal wall. Pushing on your belly gently will not hurt the placenta; after all, the baby is kicking on it from the other side. Never push hard enough to cause discomfort at any time during pregnancy.

Smiling pregnant woman laying on the couch. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Causes

Differing reports indicate that the placenta implants on the anterior of the uterus in anywhere from 26 percent to 52 percent of cases, author Kurt Benirschke reports in "Pathology of the Human Placenta." The placenta often migrates during pregnancy, implanting in one location and shifting as the uterus grows. A placenta that implants anteriorly early in pregnancy might shift to the more posterior position as your pregnancy progresses.

Potential Problems

An anterior placenta causes no problems during pregnancy. If you need a cesarean section for delivery, an anterior placenta could make incision placement more complicated and result in slightly more bleeding during the delivery. If you need an amniocentesis -- removal of a small amount of amniotic fluid for testing during pregnancy -- needle placement might also be slightly more complicated. The location of the placenta does not increase the risk of damage to the fetus or the placenta during normal pregnancy activity, including pushing on your belly to get the baby to move.

Protection of the Placenta

Although an anterior placenta might seem more vulnerable to damage because it's closer to the surface of your abdomen, it's still protected by the abdominal fat, abdominal muscles and the thick wall of the uterus.

Caveats

Regardless of where the placenta has implanted, if someone pushes very hard on your belly or you fall on your belly while pregnant, the placenta could be damaged, leading to fetal death. A September 1993 article published in the "Journal of Forensic Sciences" described three cases in which the placenta separated from the uterine wall, causing death of the fetus after hard blows to the belly. If you receive a hard push to your belly, call your doctor. If you experience any vaginal bleeding or cramping, go to the emergency room.

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