Placenta Previa Nursing Care Plan & Management



  1. The placenta implants in the lower uterine segment, near the cervical os. The degree to which it covers the os leads to three different classifications.
    • Total placenta previa occurs when the placenta completely covers the internal os.
    • Partial placenta previa occurs when the placenta partially covers the internal os.
    • Low-lying or low-implantation placenta previa occurs when the placental border reaches the border of the internal os.
  2. The incidence of placenta previa is three to six per 1,000 deliveries.


Predisposing factors include:

  1. Multiparity (80% of affected clients are multiparous)
  2. Advanced maternal age (older than 35 years in 33% of cases)
  3. Multiple gestation
  4. Previous cesarean birth
  5. Uterine incision
  6. Prior placenta previa (incidence is 12 times greater in women with previous placenta previa)
  1. Pathologic process seems to be related to the conditions that alter the normal function of the uterine deciduas and its vascularization.
  2. Bleeding, which results from tearing of the placental villi from the uterine wall as the lower uterine segment contracts and dilates, can be slight or profuse.
Assessment Findings
  1. Associated findings. In cases of suspected placenta previa, a vaginal examination is delayed until ultrasound results are available and the client is moved to the operating room for what is termed a double-set-up procedure. The operating room is needed because the examination can cause further tearing of the villi and hemorrhage, which can be fatal to the client and fetus.
  2. Common clinical manifestations include:
    • Bright red, painless vaginal bleeding
    • Soft, nontender abdomen; relaxes between contractions, if present.
    • FHR stable and within normal limits.
  3. Laboratory and diagnostic study findings. Transabdominal ultrasonography confirms suspicion of placenta previa.
Nursing Management

1. Ensure the physiologic well-being of the client and fetus.

  • Take and record vital signs, assess bleeding, and maintain a perineal pad count. Weigh perineal pads before and after use to estimate blood loss.
  • Observe for shock, which is characterized by a rapid pulse, pallor, cold moist skin, and a drop in blood pressure.
  • Monitor the FHR.
  • Enforce strict bed rest to minimize risk to the fetus.
  • Observe for additional bleeding episodes.

2. Provide client and family teaching

  • Explain the condition and management options. To ensure an adequate blood supply to the mother and fetus, place the woman at bed rest in a side-lying position. Anticipate the order for a sonogram to localize the placenta. If the condition of mother or fetus deteriorates, a cesarean birth will be required.
  • Prepare the client for ambulation and discharge (may be within 48 hours of last bleeding episode).
  • Discuss the need to have transportation to the hospital available at times.
  • Instruct the client to return to the hospital if bleeding recurs and to avoid intercourse until after the birth.
  • Instruct the client on proper handwashing and toileting to prevent infection.

3. Address emotional and psychosocial needs.

  • Offer emotional support to facilitate the grieving process, if needed.
  • After birth of the newborn, provide frequent visits with the newborn that mother can be certain of the infant’s condition.



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Nursing Care Plan

Deficient Fluid Volume

Fluid volume deficit is a state in which an individual is experiencing decreased intravascular, interstitial and/or intracellular fluid. Active blood loss or hemorrhage due to disrupted placental implantation during pregnancy may manifest signs and symptoms of fluid vol. deficient that may later lead to hypovolemic shock and cause maternal and fetal death.


Patient may manifest: 

  • Bleeding episodes (amount, duration)
  • Abdomen soft/hard when palpated
  • Manifests body weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Fetal heart rate less than normal (120-160 bpm)
  • Decreased urine output
  • Increased urine concentration
  • Pale, cold, clammy skin
Nursing Diagnosis
  • Deficient Fluid Volume r/t Active Blood Loss Secondary to Disrupted Placental Implantation
  • Patient will maintain fluid volume at a functional level possibly evidenced by adequate urinary output and stable vital signs.
Nursing Interventions Rationale
Establish Rapport To gain patient’s trust
Monitor Vital Signs To obtain baseline data
Assess color, odor, consistency and amount of vaginal bleeding; weigh pads Provides information about active bleeding versus old blood, tissue loss and degree of blood loss
Assess hourly intake and output. Provides information about maternal and fetal physiologic compensation to blood loss
Assess baseline data and note changes. Monitor FHR. Assessment provides information about possible infection, placenta previa or abruption. Warm, moist, bloody environment is ideal for growth of microorganisms.
Assess abdomen for tenderness or rigidity- if present, measure abdomen at umbilicus (specify time interval) Detecting increased in measurement of abdominal girth suggests active abruption
Assess SaO2, skin color, temp, moisture, turgor, capillary refill (specify frequency) Assessment provides information about blood vol., O2 saturation and peripheral perfusion
Assess for changes in LOC: note for complaints of thirst or apprehension To detect signs of cerebral perfusion
Provide supplemental O2 as ordered via face mask or nasal cannula @ 10-12 L/min. Intervention increases available O2 to saturate decreased hemoglobin
Initiate IV fluids as ordered (specify fluid type and rate). For replacement of fluid vol. loss
Position Pt. in supine with hips elevated if ordered or left lateral position. Position decreases pressure on placenta and cervical os. Left lateral position improves placental perfusion
Monitor lab. Work as obtained: Hgb & Hct, Rh and type, cross match for 2 units RBCs, urinalysis, etc. Scheduled for ultrasound as ordered. Lab Work provides information about degree of blood loss; prepares for possible transfusion. Ultrasound provides info about the cause of bleeding

Decreased Cardiac Output

Placenta Previa is the development of placenta in the lower uterine segment partially or completely covering the internal cervical os. Placenta Previa causes bleeding. Due to large amounts of blood lost, the heart tries to pump faster in order to compensate for blood loss. As a result, the heart pumps faster with lesser blood pumped.

  • dysrhythmias
  • prolonged capillary refill
  • cold clammy skin
  • Dyspnea
  • restlessness
  • variations in BP reading
Nursing Diagnosis
  • Decreased cardiac output r/t altered contractility
  • Patient will participate and demonstrate activities that reduce the workload of the heart.
  • Patient will manifest hemodynamic stability.
Nursing Interventions Rationale
Establish Rapport To gain patient’s trust
Monitor Vital Signs To obtain baseline data
History taking To determine contributing factors
Assess patient condition To assess contributing factors
Review lab data For comparison with current normal values
Monitor BP & Pulse frequently To note response to activity
Provide information on test procedures To gin pt’s participation
Provide adequate rest & Reposition client To promote venous return
Encourage relaxation techniques To alleviate stress & anxiety
Elevate HOB To promote circulation
Encourage use of relaxation techniques To decrease tension level

Ineffective Tissue Perfusion

Placenta Previa causes painless and continuous bleeding. With bleeding, there is decreased Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to different parts of the body. If there is decreased hemoglobin there is a failure to nourish the tissues at the capillary level.


Patient may manifest

  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Manifest Body Weakness
  • Capillary refill more than 3 sec
  • Oliguria
Nursing Diagnosis
  • Ineffective tissue perfusion r/t decreased HgB concentration in blood & hypovolemia
  • Patient will demonstrate behaviors to improve circulation.
  • Patient will demonstrate increased perfusion as individually appropriate.
Nursing Interventions Rationale
Establish Rapport To gain patient’s trust
Monitor Vital Signs To obtain baseline data
Assess patient condition To assess contributing factors
Note customary baseline data (usual BP, weight, lab values) For comparison with current findings
Determine presence of dysrhythmias To identify alterations from normal
Perform blanch test To identify and determine adequate perfusion
Check for Homan’s Sign To determine presence of thrombus formation
Encourage quiet & restful environment To lessen O2 demand
Elevate HOB To promote circulation
Encourage use of relaxation techniques To decrease tension level