What is an anterior placenta, the pregnancy complication Sue Radford is experiencing?

Sue Radford has revealed she is suffering from an anterior placenta in her 22nd pregnancy [Photo: Getty]
Sue Radford has revealed she is suffering from an anterior placenta in her 22nd pregnancy [Photo: Getty]

The mum of the UK’s biggest family, Sue Radford, has revealed she is finding her 22nd pregnancy “stressful” as a result of a the position of her unborn baby's placenta.

The mum-of-21 is 26 weeks into her pregnancy and has an anterior placenta, which means the placenta sits in front of the baby rather than behind.

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In a video shared to YouTube Sue revealed that despite the complication, which she’s experienced once before, she’s feeling well in her pregnancy, although she believes her bump is smaller than in her other pregnancies.

“I'm feeling really healthy, loads of energy. I've not got any back pain or anything, which I must say is down to the fact that I don't feel as big as I have done with the others,” she said.

“I definitely feel smaller,” she continued.

“I don't know if it's got anything to do with the anterior placenta because the placenta is at the front, but I had that with Bonnie and I still felt big with her.”

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The mum-to-be went on to explain that it could be the position of the baby as at her 20 week scan it was revealed the baby is in a breech position.

Sue also revealed that the pregnancy complication may have contributed to her feeling less movement.

“The anterior placenta has been a nightmare this time round,” she explained. “With Bonnie I felt loads of movement but with this time around I’m just not feeling much at all.

“I don’t like the placenta at the front, anyone that’s had an anterior placenta at the front, it is stressful,” she added.

What is anterior placenta?

According to My Expert Midwife co-founder and midwife, Lesley Gilchrist an anterior placenta is when the placenta attaches to the front wall of the uterus.

“An anterior placenta is not a condition or a problem during pregnancy, it is simply the place where the placenta has imbedded in the uterine wall,” she explains.

“Anterior means it is at the front. Posterior means it is at the back. Fundal means it is at the top.

“All these sites are normal not abnormal sites for the placenta to attach itself.”

Gilchrist says that an abnormal place for the placenta to imbed is low down, commonly called a 'low lying placenta' or placenta praevia and this is where is covers the cervix or exit of the uterus.

“This then can cause bleeding in pregnancy and complications for labour and birth, as the baby needs to be born before the placenta not vice versa, or their blood supply and oxygen would be cut off too soon. Most baby's with placenta praevia will be born via caesarean section.”

Though the front of the wall of the uterus is a normal place for the placenta to implant and develop, there are a few things to be aware of if you have an anterior placenta.

Sometimes, like Sue Radford may be finding, having an anterior placenta can make it a bit harder to feel your baby move.

That’s because your baby is cushioned by the placenta lying at the front of your stomach. 

“The only difference an anterior placenta can make during pregnancy is that the woman may not be able to feel her baby's movements as much, especially earlier in the pregnancy, due to the cushioning effect of the placenta at the front of her bump,” Gilchrist explains.

According to Tommys it is very important that you never assume that having an anterior placenta is a reason why you can’t feel your baby move.

The charity advises getting to know your baby’s movements and being aware of them throughout your pregnancy and if you believe your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed they suggest contacting your midwife or maternity unit immediately.

Milli Hill, baby expert at The Baby Show, agrees that pregnant women should be cautious of assuming that having an anterior placenta is the reason why you can’t feel your baby move.

“You should always be familiar and aware of your baby’s movement patterns and if they change or slow down or stop, contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately,” she says.

READ MORE: Mum gives birth to healthy baby boy 10 weeks after her waters broke

Sue Radford is 26 weeks into her latest pregnancy [Photo: Getty]
Sue Radford is 26 weeks into her latest pregnancy [Photo: Getty]

Tommys also says having an anterior placenta may also increase the chances of the baby being in a back-to-back (occipitoposterior) position. 

“This is when the baby’s head is down, but the back of their head and their back is against your spine,” the site explains.

While having a baby in a back-to-back position doesn’t necessarily rule out a vaginal delivery, it could increase the chances of having a longer and more painful labour, a caesarean section or an assisted birth.

Hill says it is also possible that women with an anterior placenta could experience some lower back pain.

“As Sue is finding, having an anterior placenta can feel a bit different to other pregnancies and might, as in Sue’s case, feel stressful.

“However, it shouldn’t be anything to worry unduly about. It can cause lower back pain, and it may cause your baby to adopt a ‘back to back’ position, which may or may not affect your labour - but overall, anterior placenta is not a cause for alarm.”

If you have any concerns about having an anterior placenta, talk to your doctor or midwife.

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