Anterior Placenta: How Does It Affect Pregnancy and Childbirth?

An anterior placenta may or may not cause trouble during labor and delivery. Find out how to have the natural birth you want.

An anterior placenta may or may not cause trouble in your labor and delivery. Find out how and what to do to get the best natural birth outcome.

At your last prenatal check-up, your doctor or midwife may have discovered you have an anterior placenta. If so, you’re probably wondering what this means. Or: why me? But above all, you’re probably wondering what an anterior placenta means for your birth plan and your baby.

What is an Anterior Placenta?

An anterior placenta is a placenta that has attached to the front of the uterus. It is diagnosed during an ultrasound.

The placenta (the organ that nourishes baby through pregnancy) typically attaches to the uterus in the back (posterior), though it can attach anywhere, including the sides, top, bottom (also known as placenta previa), and the front (anterior).

What Is an Anterior Placenta? Difference between an anterior and posterior placenta

How Common is an Anterior Placenta?

An anterior placenta is relatively common—in fact, research suggests up to 52 percent of women have an anterior placenta. Interestingly, further research shows an anterior placenta appears to be more prevalent in women with O-positive blood; another found that your sleep position during conception may have something to do with it.

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Are There Risks and Complications Associated With an Anterior Placenta?

Though having an anterior placenta isn’t a problem for the most part, there are some things that can be a bit… annoying. An anterior placenta can make those little things that help connect you with your baby in utero harder to uncover. Here are some of the things that can be more difficult with an anterior placenta:

1. Fetal heart rate: It takes longer to hear baby’s heartbeat

If you’re concerned about risks associated with doppler ultrasound (used to find baby’s heartbeat in the second trimester), you may have decided to wait until a fetoscope could be used, around 18-20 weeks. But with an anterior placenta, it may be even longer, because the placenta is between the fetoscope and the baby.

Even with a handheld doppler, it may be difficult to hear baby’s heartbeat in the early part of the second trimester.

2. Fetal movement: It takes longer to feel kicks

In general, women with anterior placentas feel baby kick later than those with posterior placentas. They may even feel more muted movement, though many feel plenty of movement on the sides, top, and on the bladder!

3. Fetal position: It can be harder to determine baby’s fetal position

Many natural mamas find belly mapping to be a useful tool to bond with baby, to be keenly aware of baby’s position, and to be able to take steps to change the baby’s position if needed. With an anterior placenta, it may be difficult to tell where exactly the baby is, because the placenta cushions any movements in the front.

4. Placenta previa

Sometimes anterior placentas may grow down toward the cervix instead of up, potentially causing placenta previa, a common but more serious concern when it comes to labor and delivery.

Will an Anterior Placenta Change During Pregnancy?

Though the placenta does migrate as the uterus grows, it’s not going to move so much that it’s no longer anterior. The migration is more of an upward one, so a placenta that is near the cervix early in the pregnancy is likely to move to a safer place before delivery.

Will an Anterior Placenta Affect My Baby or My Delivery Plan?

For the most part, having an anterior placenta will have no affect on delivery or your natural birth plan. In most cases, baby is born without any problems at all. In, fact many women never even know about, or notice, their anterior placenta, because it never causes any concerns.

Though not necessarily cause for concern, there are a few things to be aware of:

Difficult labor

There does seem to be a correlation between anterior placentas and babies in occipital posterior (OP) positioning, meaning baby’s face is pointed toward mom’s front instead of toward her back, called occipital anterior (OA).

Some midwives believe that babies with an anterior placenta are more comfortable in an OP position and that’s why that correlation exists. In any case, an OP presenting baby is not an emergency, but could cause back labor or a slightly longer, more difficult labor.

Greater risk of c-section

In some cases an OP presentation may require more interventions, like a c-section.

What to Do If You Have an Anterior Placenta

Having an anterior placenta is usually nothing to worry about, but if you’re concerned about some of the possible issues we’ve discussed here, there are some things you can do:

  • Choose a handheld doppler instead of a fetoscope to hear baby’s heartbeat, and remain calm if it takes a while to find it. It may take a few extra weeks to hear the heartbeat.
  • Try belly mapping. It may be more difficult to do, but if you can figure it out, you’ll be happy to see that your baby is indeed in OA position. Even if the baby is facing a different way, you can try some exercises for moving him or her into a better position.
  • Sleep on your back if you’re trying to conceive. One study found that sleeping on your back was the best way to get a posterior placenta.
  • Keep a positive mindset. If there’s ever a time in your life to believe in the power of positive pregnancy affirmations,  it’s during pregnancy and labor! Be prepared, of course, but expect the best, too.

How About You?

Did you have an anterior placenta? Did it affect your birth at all?

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

23 Comments

  1. Interesting article! I’ve had anterior placentas witg all 3 pregnancies! I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to get kicked directly in front, or see my baby’s movements more clearly. I usually didn’t feel kicks before 16-18 weeks, which I don’t think is much different than most moms to be. However, I never heard that an anterior placenta can cause labor complications. My first two got stuck and I pushed 5 1/2 hours and 3 1/2 hours respectively without meds🥴 My first was delivered via vacuum and my second was an unplanned csection. For my third, I saw a chiropractor for the last trimester, and had a much easier time, only pushing an hour and no intervention.

  2. Hi this is my first pregnancy I’m 16 weeks with an anterior placenta! Just wondering when did everyone start to feel the baby move or kick?

  3. I’m pregnant with my 4th baby and this is the 2nd time I a row I’ve had an anterior placenta. (I most often sleep on my left side with my belly towards the bed, btw.)
    My first labor with an anterior placenta went pretty well. Labor started naturally at 39 weeks and labor was about 13 hours long. Pushing was about 10 minutes. It was pretty painful and I got very exhausted but I’m not sure if it was considered back labor.

    Something that wasn’t mentioned is that having an anterior placenta can put VBAC mommas slightly more at risk. The concern is that the placenta might have attached to the scar and become embedded in too deeply.
    Thankfully my VBAC didn’t have complications.

    • Hi there! I’m 20 weeks pregnant with an anterior placenta after 2 c sections, attempting my first VBAC. Did you have to deliver at a hospital? I will have too. Any additional advise you could give geared toward ensuring the VBAC? Thanks! And congrats!!

    • Never heard that either about vbacs. My VBAC was successful also despite an anterior placenta. And I would’ve loved to only push 10 minutes! You’re so lucky!!

  4. I am currently pregnant 35 weeks with Baby #2 (Girl) with an anterior placenta. Baby #1 (Girl) was posterior placenta and total of 8 hours of labor from water breaking at home that triggered contractions short after to delivery in a no medication birth at the hospital birth center. I am O+ and a side sleeper. Baby is harder to feel kicks I feel elbow jabs in my lower left and feet kicks in my upper right which tell me through baby mapping her head is down but not sure if OP or OA. I get my 36 week ultrasound next week to determine if baby is down and everything looks good. Eating the dates, drinking the tea, and will start taking primrose oil at week 37 to help with a faster labor. I am crossing my fingers for a faster labor this time around as this is my second And last baby but plan to do unmedicated in the birth center again if there are no complications.

  5. I have an anterior placenta and didn’t feel movements until I was around 21 weeks. I’m 38+5 weeks now, trying to figure out what position baby is in! Last two midwife appointments I had, baby was head down but in the OP position which now makes sense! The kicks and bumps are in my sides and just under my ribs so I’m super confused. Before pregnancy, I always slept on my back so that didn’t help me to get a posterior placenta! Haha. My blood group is O positive though, so that’s pretty cool to read that there has been some correlation! No back pains at all so far, so i’m wondering if I’ll get bad back pain when I’m in active labour.

  6. Thank you for such a great article and to everyone else for sharing your comments! It was very reassuring for me. I’m currently about 24 weeks with baby #2 and we have an anterior placenta this time. I delivered our first son vaginally so I’m hoping to do the same with this one. My biggest concern right now is on the off-chance that I would have to have a c-section and the placenta is in the way of my baby. I’m wondering if they go around it or have to cut through? My doctor was a little vague and very matter-of-fact and just said they need to move more quickly because it’s the baby’s life support.

    • How did things work out for you? I just found out I have the same issue and I am a repeat C-section.

  7. Oh what a relief to read this article! I am a first time mom, 24 weeks and just learned I have an anterior placenta, I am O+ but I have been feeling baby movements since week 12 or 13. I do notice that my baby has always hung out on my right side. And yes I have been sleeping on my left side for weeks!!! Baby’s placenta may be on the anterior towards the left side of my body. I will hold on to faith and declare that my labor will be amazing, my baby will be born at home, no complications in Jesus name. I choose to expect only good things. I can’t begin to express how much believing God’s word and declaring it daily out loud has helped me overcome the negativity. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”. Philippians 4:8 NIV

    • Hi how did your birth go with having anterior placenta?

    • Amen 🙏

  8. Loved reading all these comments! This is my first pregnancy and I have an anterior placenta (stomach sleeper, but B+ blood type). I’ve been a little worried about the baby being in the right position come birth time, but feel better after hearing everyone’s experiences.

  9. I’m on baby 4. Every single one of my pregnancies I have had an anterior placenta. I didnt really find it different than other pregnancies because its all I have known. I didnt realize it wasnt typical until number 4 when I got an ultrasound and the tech was having problems. My cervix has always been in the anterior postion even when not pregnant so I dont know if that adds to it. I am a side sleeper and I am O pos so I have those things that the article mentions. All 3 pregnancies I had the baby in the op postion or sunnyside up. The 3rd one I was able to flip right before delivery. I wont know about baby 4 for another 2 months but it seems to be the same. My deliveries went faster after each one; 6hrs, 5hrs, and 3hrs. I assume 4 will be fast too. The first one was the hardest I pushed for 4 hours with him and that was cuz I was lying down. The other two was a few pushes and was done in a birthing chair and I think that makes all the difference. I never experienced back pain. So I say dont be scared, your body knows what to do even if its awkard from the norm, just dont fight it. I look forward to number 4 and see if its like the others.

    • Hi mam, I am 23 week pregnant but my ultrasound showing anterior placenta I had spotting I am taking tab duphastone 10 mg and progesterone. Suppository, now I am in Saudi can I travel to india by flight

    • Thanks for the reassurance. ?

  10. So interesting! My two boys were anterior, little girl was posterior and 9 weeks with baby #4 and another anterior placenta. None of my babies were OP position. One of my boys was face presentation however and the other had a prolapsed cord on the side of his head. My blood type is A+, not O and we didn’t have any problems hearing the heartbeats. The movements were a little more muffled than my daughters, though.

  11. I really enjoyed this article! I’m pregnant with our second and don’t know if the placental placement yet. With our first I had an anterior placenta and he was OP positioned which caused me to have a lot of back labor (that I was not expecting) however I had planned to go the all natural route after taking the Bradley method class and was successful! So to all those mamas out there with anterior placentas, just like the article said, no reason to be nervous but had I known ahead of time I would have liked to try some exercises to get him to be OA. Hoping and praying I don’t have back labor with this next one though and I’m interested to find out where the placenta is placed as well and to see how that affects my labor.

  12. This article is very helpful and it really eases my worries about labor and birth. I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant with my little boy and having an anterior placenta didn’t affect hearing his heartbeat at all but his movements are muffled. I was 12 weeks when I had my first ultra sound (maybe that’s why) but we heard his strong little heart beat loud and clear. He does like to kick (or punch, i can’t tell what it is) me in the sides a lot or he really enjoys pushing on my bladder. I’m so excited to meet my little man!

  13. Another mama here with an anterior placenta and OP labor. I always wondered if there was a correlation! What is your source on this? 🙂

  14. This is a really good article and even though my baby is 15 months old now, I still appreciate reading this! I also had an anterior placenta and experienced all of the above. We didn’t want to use Doppler or ultrasound unnecessarily but I couldn’t hear the heartbeat until the second trimester. I eventually decided on a 20 week ultrasound (I’m in Canada) and the moment I saw my little girl was amazing. Up until that momen I hadn’t really been able to connect with her because I couldn’t feel her or hear a heartbeat most times during my check ups.
    It wasn’t until after 24 weeks that I could feel kicks or movements and even then they were always faint and far between right up until my delivery.
    I had a home birth and it was perfect. I was in active labour for less than three hours, she came into the world with no problems at all. It didn’t effect the birth at all but I do feel like I missed out on a lot of the physical joys of feeling a baby move around while pregnant.

  15. This was so helpful to read! I’m currently 39 weeks pregnant with my second baby and have learned some new things this go around from my first. My first pregnancy, I had an anterior placenta and many of these symptoms were my reality. And being a first time Mama it can be a bit nerve racking. It took until 24 weeks to feel my daughter’s first kicks, throughout the rest of the pregnancy I had to be religious about doing kick counts every night because there were days I wouldn’t feel her at all because her movements were absorbed so much by the placenta. She also stayed in “sunny side” up position the last trimester of my pregnancy and I labored with her that way as well. Only 45 min. before I delivered her was when she naturally rotated her body and I delivered her in the right position. My labor was 17 hours from start to finish and i had a lot of back labor. But I loved my birth story because I knew no different. I had a completely natural no pain medication delivery and delivered her in a birth center. However, I’ve thought this whole time there were things I had done that caused her to be in the wrong position, that she just didn’t move much as a baby in my womb, etc. Reading this blog post helped so much to see how much was just naturally correlated to an anterior placenta! My second pregnancy has been night and day! I have a posterior placenta and this baby I swear is the most active child in the world! I felt butterfly flutters at 6 weeks! It’s amazing to be able to belly map and she’s been in the right position all of third trimester. I’ve had absolutely no back pain! With how amazing my pregnancy has been, im looking forward to my labor that’s just around the corner! Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Thank you so much for posting this. 31wks, first time mom and I can’t feel most of the kicks. Sometimes I’ll feel side kicks but for the most part they are muffled. It is so nerve raking and it’s nice to know it’s more common than not. I just hope all is okay in there!


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