Giving birth is an experience, but once the baby’s out, everything’s pretty much done, right?
Just ask Ali Fedotowsky-Manno, who experienced some pretty unpleasant postpartum side effects first-hand.
Six months after giving birth to her son, Riley Doran, Ali underwent postpartum surgery to remove placenta that was still in her uterus, she revealed to People.
Oddly enough, the same thing happened with her first child, Molly, “but the placenta worked itself out with medication,” she said.
This time, Ali said her placenta was “a little sticky sucker, that it wouldn’t come out.” So, she went into surgery (a dilation and curettage procedure to remove tissue from the uterus) to “suck it out.”
But that wasn’t the end of Ali’s ordeal. After the procedure, Ali said she went through some hormonal changes. “I was feeling not myself—really sad and anxious,” she told People. Ali’s doctor confirmed that these feelings may have been caused by the procedure: “I talked to my doctor about it and she said after a surgery like that, big hormonal shifts can happen,” she said.
Can the placenta really get “stuck” after giving birth?
Yep—it’s actually called a “retained placenta,” and it’s not all that uncommon, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA).
Basically, a retained placenta happens when the placenta (or parts of it) remain in the womb after birth. The placenta is meant to expel from the uterus on its own, usually within 30 minutes of the baby’s birth. When this doesn’t happen, the mother is considered at-risk for blood loss and infection (a woman’s body will continue pumping blood to the placenta when it’s still inside the body), which can be life-threatening, according to the APA.
There are also three different classifications of a retained placenta, per the APA. There’s placenta adherens, which occurs when the placenta remains loosely attached to the uterine wall; a trapped placenta, when the cervix closes off before the placenta can be expelled; and placenta accreta, when the placenta attaches to the muscular walls of the uterus instead of the uterine lining.
If left inside a woman’s uterus long enough, retained placentas can also come with some pretty gnarly symptoms: fever, foul discharge, heavy bleeding, and pain, per the APA.
Mothers over 30 and those that prematurely deliver (before the 34th week), along with those who deliver a stillborn baby or who have had a retained placenta before, have a greater risk of having a retained placenta.
To treat the condition, doctors may attempt to manually remove the placenta, or prescribe medication that can relax the uterus to help expel the placenta (which apparently worked for Ali after her first pregnancy). Surgery is often a last resort because of associated complications.
Thankfully, Ali said she’s feeling a lot better these days. Here’s hoping her and her family stay happy and healthy.
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