In a recent interview with C Magazine, Kim Kardashian reveals she had a pregnancy complication called placenta accreta during her first pregnancy.
She said she tried for a year to conceive her second child with husband Kanye West, and added, "I had so many complications. I had this condition called placenta accreta. There were a couple little operations to fix all that so that created a little hole in my uterus, which I think made it really tough to get pregnant again."
I'm not sure about you, but I'd never heard of the specific pregnancy complication—placenta accreta—Kardashian referenced. So I reached out to an expert to learn (and share) more about it.
Essentially, placenta accreta "is when the placenta grows so deeply into the uterus that it cannot be separated after delivery," said Nathaniel G. DeNicola, M.D., an ob-gyn affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. While there's a range of how deeply the placenta can grow, in the most severe cases it can grow completely through the uterus and even reach the bladder or other organs.
Such a condition can lead to infertility for two reasons, Dr. DeNicola explained. Often, the treatment for placeta accreta is the removal of the uterus at the time of delivery—a procedure called Cesarean Hysterectomy, sometimes abbreviated as C-Hyst. And while this obviously means that a woman wouldn't be able to carry a future pregnancy, fertility treatments like egg retrieval and surrogacy can be options, as the ovaries aren't usually removed. As for the second reason: "Even in cases where the uterus can be saved, the uterus may have significant scarring or otherwise be unable to carry a pregnancy," Dr. DeNicola says.
Beyond concerns about infertility, DeNicola said placenta accreta can be otherwise dangerous for women. "In addition to the likely need for a Cesarean Hysterectomy, women with placenta accreta are at risk for heavy blood loss during delivery, called postpartum hemorrhage." (That's a condition I personally suffered and wrote about here.) "It can be a scary diagnosis," he says. Indeed.
It's not all bleak, however: Placenta accreta is relatively rare, affecting roughly 1 in 500 pregnancies, according to Dr. DeNicola. Early diagnosis through prenatal care is key here, so that a team of doctors and nurses can be on hand at a scheduled delivery. "Fortunately, with these measures in place," he says, "placenta accreta is a manageable diagnosis."
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Alesandra Dubin is a mom to one-year-old boy-girl twins. She's also a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of lifestyle blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter.