Chrissy Teigen Reveals Placental Abruption Led to Her Pregnancy Loss—Here's What That Means
"I absolutely knew I needed to share this story."
Chrissy Teigen ended her social media hiatus Tuesday—nearly one month after suffering a pregnancy loss on September 30—with a long, heartbreaking Medium essay and Instagram post, detailing what the last month has been like for her and her family, and sharing an official diagnosis of what led to the loss of her son, Jack: partial placental abruption.
"I didn't know how to come back to real life so I wrote this piece for Medium with hopes that I can somehow move on but as soon as I posted it, tears flew out because it felt so....final," Teigen, 34, wrote in the Instagram caption. "I don't want to ever not remember jack (sic)."
She went on to thank "everyone who has been so kind," including friends, family, their entire household, and "the incredible doctors who tried so hard to make our third life a reality." She also thanked her husband John Legend "for being my best friend and love of my life," and points out that while many people focus on the mother after pregnancy loss, the father is suffering too.
In her essay, Teigen explained that she has always had placenta problems, and had to deliver her son Miles, now 2 (little brother to 4-year-old Luna), a month early because her placenta wasn't delivering him enough nutrition. However, this was Teigen's first experience with the more serious medical issue of a partial placenta abruption.
"We monitored it very closely, hoping for things to heal and stop," she wrote. "In bed, I bled and bled, lightly but all day, changing my own diapers every couple of hours when the blood got uncomfortable to lay in." True to form, Teigen manages to inject humor into her recollection: "I actually became an adult diaper expert for my own personal entertainment, truly appreciating the brands that went out of their way to not make me feel like an actual shitting baby. Some were blush colored, with drawn delicate flowers. I got to the point where I was actually like, 'hell yeah, throw me the pink ones!'—something I never thought I'd be excited for. But there we were."
Teigen was being seen by her doctors at home, and still hoping for the best, when her bleeding got "heavier and heavier" and the fluid around Jack was so low "he was barely able to float around." After being hospitalized and receiving multiple blood transfusions, Teigen's doctor told her it was time to say goodbye—that Jack wouldn't survive and if it continued, she might not either.
"Late one night, I was told it would be time to let go in the morning," Teigen wrote. "I cried a little at first, then went into full blown convulsions of snot and tears, my breath not able to catch up with my own incredibly deep sadness. Even as I write this now, I can feel the pain all over again."
In spite of her family's devastating loss, Teigen had no doubt that she wanted to talk—and write—about it. "I absolutely knew I needed to share this story," she wrote, also not apologizing for the photos she posted when she first shared the news. "I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos. How little I care that it’s something you wouldn’t have done," she wrote. "I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me."
She concluded her piece, "Jack will always be loved, explained to our kids as existing in the wind and trees and the butterflies they see. Thank you so much to every single person who has had us in their thoughts or gone as far as to send us your love and stories. We are so incredibly lucky."
What is placental abruption?
Typically, the placenta—which connects the fetus to the mother's uterus, delivering it nutrients, blood, and oxygen; and helping to get rid of waste—separates from the uterus during the last stage of labor, and contractions help push it into the birth canal and out of the body.
But with a placenta abruption, or placental abruption, the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before a baby is born, according to the US National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus resource.
The condition usually happens in the third trimester, but can happen anytime after the 20th week of pregnancy, per the American Pregnancy Association (APA). But it's rare: Only about 1% of all pregnant women experience a placental abruption—most of which can be successfully treated, depending on the level of separation.
There are two main types of placental abruption: partial, in which the placental only partially separates from the uterus, and complete—and those classifications will also dictate treatment.
What are the symptoms of placental abruption?
The main symptom of placental abruption is vaginal bleeding, per MedlinePlus—and that amount of blood depends on how much or how little the placenta has separated from the uterus. That blood can also collect inside your body, between the placenta and the uterine wall, so you may not see any outward signs bleeding at all.
The APA notes that other symptoms of placental abruption include:
- Uterine tenderness
- Rapid contractions
- Abdominal pain
- Fetal heart rate abnormalities
All of those symptoms during pregnancy—especially bleeding your third trimester—warrant an appointment with your ob-gyn, who will perform a physical exam, perform an ultrasound, and check the fetal heart rate.
What can cause placental abruption?
While it's not entirely clear what leads to placental abruption—and though you can't prevent it—doctors believe risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes diagnoses. Tobacco, alcohol, and cocaine use can also increase the risk of a placental abruption, per MedlinePlus.
According to the March of Dimes, you may also be at a higher risk of placental abruption if you're age 35 or older, have had a previous placental abruption, your belly is harmed from a car accident or other injury, or if you have an infection in your uterus.
What's the outcome of placental abruption?
That really depends on the severity of the placental abruption. MedlinePlus says if the separation of the placenta from the uterus is small, then your provider may put you on bed rest to help stop the bleeding.
With a more moderate separation, the pregnant person may be admitted to the hospital, where doctors can monitor the baby's heart rate, and keep an eye out for any signs of distress. A blood transfusion may also be necessary to help with excessive bleeding.
In the most severe cases—usually a complete placental abruption—the baby may have to be delivered right away, most often by C-section. The APA says any type of placental abruption can lead to premature birth and low birth rate.
About 15% of severe placental abruptions will result in fetal death. Placental abruption overall is linked to about 10% of premature births, per March of Dimes, and those babies are more likely to have health problems during the first weeks of life and lasting disabilities than babies born later in pregnancy.
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