If you read that title and said, what?, you’re not alone! That was my reaction the first time I was told my placenta was calcified. And I’ve now been told this 2 times. So let me back up and explain.
When I was about 32 or 34 weeks pregnant with MJ I was told my placenta was calcified. What does that mean? It means my placenta was aged. Instead of it looking like a 32 or 34 week placenta it looked older, it looked like it was starting to not work properly. This was the first time I had heard or experienced this. At that appointment I was told I’d have to be induced at 38 weeks because MJ wasn’t putting on enough weight, likely due to the calcification of my placenta. I then had to have a growth ultrasound scan every 2 weeks to check his weight.
After I gave birth to MJ my placenta was sent to a lab for testing and the results came back fine. There were no real issues with it other than the fact that it aged quicker than it should have. I didn’t experience any of this with my first pregnancy and my OB couldn’t really tell me why it happened. The doctor in maternal fetal medicine, who was checking my ultrasounds every 2 weeks said it was due to my high blood pressure. I developed high blood pressure some time after my first pregnancy. I started taking medication for my blood pressure right before I found out I was pregnant with MJ. So it’s my opinion that the blood pressure medication although safe for pregnancy had something to do with calcifying my placenta.
This was the only thing that had changed health wise for me since my first pregnancy. I can formulate this opinion because the same thing happened in my third pregnancy.
In my third pregnancy at 38 weeks I was told my placenta was beginning to look calcified and I should be induced. At this point I was 2 weeks away from my due date. My placenta began to calcify towards the very end of my pregnancy, which some calcification is normal. So what caused it to calcify later in my third pregnancy than my second? I was still on blood pressure medication. However, around 26 weeks I began feeling lightheaded from the blood pressure medication, so I dropped a dose as instructed by my doctor and felt fine and my blood pressure was great and remained that way through the end of my pregnancy.
In one pregnancy calcification started early while in another it was towards the final weeks. What changed? The only thing I can attribute to this is that in my 2nd pregnancy I took the blood pressure medication less, when my pressure started dropping too low. I’m no doctor and don’t hold a medical degree but this is what happened to me.
Below is some information on placenta calcification.
Flo Health states that, “A calcified placenta occurs when small, round calcium deposits build up on the placenta, causing it to deteriorate gradually. The process occurs naturally as you get closer to the end of your pregnancy. However, if placental calcification occurs before your 36th week, it could cause complications for you and your baby. Complications such as fetal growth restriction and fetal distress are four times more likely in cases of preterm placental calcification.”https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.flo.health/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/complications/calcified-placenta-in-pregnancy
Some possible causes for developing a calcified placenta are
-Placental abruption (when the placenta becomes dislodged from the wall of the uterus) -Certain bacteria in the placenta
-Environmental factors including exposure to radiation or low-frequency sound
-Reactions to medication (antacids) or vitamin supplements (excessive calcium)
If your placenta is deemed to be significantly calcified prior to 36 weeks than your doctor may recommend inducement or a c-section to
reduce the risk of complications such as
-Low birth weight
-Low Apgar score