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  • Niamh

Circumvallate Placenta…

Circumvallate Placenta…

No, I’d never heard of it before either. I’d never heard of another mum having it and as I was to discover, it is in fact an extremely rare condition occurring in about 1%-7% of pregnancies, but last week on my 20 week scan, my consultant told me I may have this condition.

He very calmly told me that he wasn’t 100% sure that’s what I have, but nevertheless it was clear enough to the sonographer who was doing the 20 week scan to mark it on my report as a possible problem.

It can affect the baby’s growth, he told me. He explained that how normally the placenta is a flat organ, much like a pancake and it sticks to the side of the uterus. In the case of Circumvallate Placenta, it turns in on itself, making it constrained, which means the baby may not get enough nutrients, which can impact on the growth… among other things. Those other things I only found out when I Googled them the second I left the building, which of course he’d told me not to do.

‘I’m not 100% convinced it is this, he added calmly. ‘But if it is, it can have very serious consequences. We’ll monitor the baby’s growth much more closely,’ he added matter of factly.

I left his office in a daze.

Had this just happened?

I was shaking as I typed in the long latin name I was having trouble pronouncing. Tears running down my face, hidden by my sunglasses as my husband drove the car out of town, both of us in a state of shock.

Increased risk of placental abruption

Restricted foetal growth

Pre-term birth


I felt sick as I read the list of complications. I couldn’t get the words out as my breath left me and I could feel the panic rising. All I could hear was the raging thump of my heartbeat ringing in my own ears.

Only an hour before, we had seen a 3D image of our babies face, the features looking so familiar, just like those of the babies big brother.

Was this real? Had I misheard him?

What did this mean? Why was this happening?

Despite days passing and the news slowly sinking in, I’m still not sure. In reality I now play a cruel waiting game. I literally have to wait until the next scan to find out if the baby has grown as expected. If so, then perhaps this is not Cirumvallate Placenta after all. If not, then I’m looking at very scary and uncertain outcome.

Either way, I’m powerless. There’s nothing I could have done or can do to prevent this condition. I can’t take a pill or make a lifestyle change or eat more of this or less of that. There’s no reason why this happened to me and not someone else. The doctors can’t do anything to change it. The only thing that can be done is to manage the terrifying list of complications no one would ever want to face.

I feel like I’m in limbo. The next four weeks will be a particular kind of slow torture, where I have to paint on a smile and get on with being normal mammy to my toddler, while inside my anxiety, worry and sadness goes off the scale, driving me crazy and I run upstairs to try and contain the tears that threaten to break the barriers or my tired eyes at any moment. I can’t curl up in a ball and shut out the world.

The world keeps turning and life has to go on. Mammy has to get on with things and keep her worry to herself.

Every mum hopes to come out of her 20 week scan with a clean bill of health for her baby and in many ways we did. The sonographer checked all the usual things, the heart, brain, organs etc. and she said it was all normal and healthy.

It is in fact MY body that is causing the problem. It’s MY body that’s failing this baby. MY placenta with the possible abnormality. And it’s the worst feeling in the world. To feel like a failure before this baby is even here. To know I’ve let it down before I even begin. To know I can’t do a God damn thing about it, expect sit here and wait for the next scan.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

It’s funny. I remember when I was pregnant the first time around, I spent the time up until my 20 week scan in a state of anxiety, convinced there’d be something wrong with the baby. Then we were told everything was as normal as it could have been. I remember leaving the scan feeling so relived. I literally floated out of the building and really enjoyed the rest of the pregnancy.

This time it’s the reverse. This time I’ve been too laid back up until now. This time, I’ve come out of the 20 week scan completely anxious and wrecked with worry… and I’ll be that way until I have this baby.

Try not to worry, they say. It’s what I’d say if the roles were reversed.

But not to worry is an impossibility.

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