Why Having an Anterior Placenta is Stupid

At my 20 week anatomy ultrasound appointment I asked the tech where my placenta was located.  She said I had an anterior placenta, to which I replied, “that’s stupid.”

The ultrasound tech wondered why I said that, and maybe you wonder too.  This post is everything you need to know about why having an anterior placenta is stupid. 😉

What is an Anterior Placenta?

First, let me explain what an anterior placenta is.  Placentas typically attach themselves in the back/posterior of the uterus, but when your placenta is anterior it is right up front (placentas can also attach on the sides and top of the uterus).

So, if you came up to me when I was pregnant and rubbed my belly and started talking to the baby, you were in fact introducing yourself to my placenta and not the baby.  My placenta is in the front of my uterus, right in between baby and my belly button.

anterior placentaOk, so having an anterior placenta isn’t necessarily “stupid” but more annoying than anything.  And don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that I have a healthy placenta keeping my baby healthy.   I’m also grateful that the placenta isn’t low lying which can be dangerous if it’s covering my cervix, etc. (placenta previa).

However, one of the reasons why I am annoyed I have an anterior placenta is that it makes it really hard to hear fetal heart tones with a fetoscope in your second trimester.

What is a Fetoscope?

A fetoscope is like a stethoscope but used primarily to hear fetal heart tones.  It’s not invasive, doesn’t use ultrasound like a doppler does, so anybody could use it without having to have a medically indicated reason.

However, since my placenta is in the front it makes perfect sense that I have been unable to hear my baby’s heartbeat with my fetoscope… but instead can hear my own pulse loud and clear.  I have been hearing my placenta!

When Can I Hear My Baby’s Heartbeat With An Anterior Placenta?

Graham-Field-Ultrasound-Pocket-DopplerAnother reason an anterior placenta is stupid is because it may take your care provider while to find baby’s heartbeat with a handheld doppler in the first trimester and some of the second.  Nothing is worse than waiting for your care provider to try to find a heartbeat… and then to not be able to find it!  Typically, if this happens mamas go into “worse case scenario mode” and assume the worst at this point.  However, the inability to hear a heartbeat with a doppler in the first and some of the second trimester is not uncommon.

This exact scenario happened to me right around the end of the first trimester when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Instead of sending me on home and trying again the following month, my midwife was kind and sent me to get a quick ultrasound. To my relief I saw her AND heard her.  At that point I knew I was REALLY pregnant!  (Haha… if you’ve been there you know exactly how I felt!)

When Will I Feel Fetal Movement with an Anterior Placenta?

Another reason I was annoyed that I have an anterior placenta is that it typically takes longer for a woman to start feeling fetal movement and when you do feel movement it can be dulled compared to what other moms might be feeling.  With an anterior placenta you might not feel movement WELL into your second trimester.  All normal!

With my anterior placenta pregnancy I started feeling movement at 16 weeks and my husband felt baby girl kick at 19 weeks so I don’t think having an anterior placenta impacted feeling baby movement for me in this prengnacy.  I have noticed, however, that I only feel movement down low and to the sides, which makes sense because the placenta is cushioning any kicks I may have otherwise felt with a posterior placenta.

Will an Anterior Placenta make Labor Longer and More Painful?

Belly mapping workbook anterior placentaA third reason I was annoyed about my anterior placenta is I have been really looking forward to figuring out my baby’s position (aka belly mapping) and I would assume that an anterior placenta would make it a bit more tricky.  I went to the Spinning Babies website to see what Gail had to say about the anterior placenta and baby positioning and discovered that some people believe OP babies are more common with an anterior placenta.  Oy!

An OP baby is in the occiput posterior position which is head down and baby is facing mom’s front.  The optimal position is called occiput anterior which is head down and facing towards mom’s back.  Having a baby in the optimal position will make your labor shorter and less painful – a good thing!

Before my head started spinning, I read that whole page and became educated.  So, in conclusion, yes it can be more difficult to determine baby’s position, but no, it doesn’t necessarily mean baby will be OP more often especially if you follow the advice on the page: The 3 Principles of Spinning Babies

  1. Balance your uterus.  1-5 short inversions per day and the rebozo are your friend.
  2. Apply gravity using maternal positioning.  Couches and recliners are for wimps!
  3. Move the mother.  Pelvic rocks, swimming, and more inversions.

On that page it said that a good time to start implementing these things is around 20 weeks.  So, it looks like I need to start doing daily inversions, stretching, pelvic floor exercises, gentle prenatal yoga, psoas exercises, brisk walking, and swimming!

The Daily Essentials video by Spinning Babies is probably the best resource I’ve found to prepare you and your baby for a less painful and more empowered birth experience.

Update:  I gave birth to my daughter one day before her due date.  The labor was straightforward and I had no baby position problems or placenta problems.  Everything went great!

Will I Need to Have a Cesarean Birth Because of My Anterior Placenta?

 A diagnosis of an anterior placenta in and of itself is not a medically indicated reason for a cesarean section.  In English – No, you won’t need a cesarean because your placenta is anterior. Other placenta issues like placenta previa (where the placenta covers all or part of the cervix – not an emergency but you obviously cannot have a vaginal birth if the placenta is still covering the cervix at 40 weeks or full term), or placental abruption (where the placenta becomes partially or completely detached from the uterus – AN EMERGENCY!) would definitely be reason to have a life saving cesarean birth.

placenta encapsulation supplies 2Note: If you are interested in encapsulating your placenta for postpartum wellness please see my DIY Placenta Encapsulation Supplies list.

If you’ve read to the bottom of this article… thank you and well done!  You’re probably the type of parent who LOVES to do research and wants to make the best choices for you and your family.  Below are some of the best pregnancy books you will likely enjoy.

Also, please visit my sister site www.mybestpregnancybooks.com for lots of great articles and book recommendations.

If you’ve found this article to be helpful, please share the love and click the like button below.


  1. 1


    I have had anterior placentas with both kids… and I have to say, I felt PLENTY of movement, haha. Like you said, mostly sides and top, but I don’t feel like I was missing out at all (but maybe I didn’t know any better). :) Also… my son rotated from OA to OP in labor and my daughter rotated from OP to OA in labor! I felt that by the third trimester, it was very easy to use spinning babies to belly map my kids’ positions. At that point, the baby is big enough to feel butts/heads/feet around the comparatively small surface area that the placenta takes up. I also have a retroverted uterus (it’s tilted and flexed) so it looks like we’re uterus sisters. haha. Thanks for the interesting post, I have really been enjoying your blog. :)

  2. 5

    Amandine says

    I’m 20 weeks pregnant and found out last week that I too have an anterior placenta. I also have a low placenta. I was told it’s not dangerous, it just means a c-section might be required. Also it’s too early to tell, because sometimes it moves as the pregnancy progresses. I could feel little tickling way down on my right side from 17-18.5 weeks (around) and then it stopped. I was convinced the baby had died, but no, he was very active on the ultrasound last week. It’s my placenta that is preventing me from feeling it. I also had my first ultrasound at 7 weeks and the doctor had no trouble seeing the fetus and she got a strong heartbeat every time (7 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 18 weeks). Looking forward to feeling something, but it will come So women shouldn’t worry. It is true that no two pregnancies are alike! good luck ladies

  3. 6


    I agree, anterior placentas are stupid (but okay as long as they are doing their job, right?). I had all the same “symptoms” as you, not cool for a third baby when I thought I knew what to expect. I am really worried about having an OP baby, time to start Spinning Babies work!

  4. 8

    Amy Hood says

    Does having an anterior placenta mean that I am more likely to have back labor?

    This is my third baby. With my second I had anterior placenta and I had horrible back labor.

  5. 10

    Jennifer Maria says

    Thank you i am high risk and have an anterior placenta this is my forth pregnancy an all my babies have felt stronger than this one ive been a ball worries.

    • 11

      Lindsey Morrow says

      How far along are you? I’m 16 weeks and a ball of worries like you. I hate the first half of pregnancy because of all the unknown and waiting.

  6. 12

    Leanne says

    I’m 22 weeks with my 4th and have only felt occasional little flutters. I was fine with this because it’s what I experienced with my last pregnancy. But when my midwife couldn’t find the heartbeat on Tuesday with doppler (my placenta is anterior also), I’m driving myself crazy! I’m starting to wonder if I’ve even felt anything lately. The logical explanation is that I have a kick-absorbing placenta in the way, the baby is probably hiding deep inside, and within a couple weeks I will be fully reassured. But of course my mind is thinking the worst!

  7. 14

    cynthia says

    I am 13 weeks pragnant and I am overweight and I can hear the babt hb faintly on my dopplet at home but the plancenta in the way too so icant pick up the number

  8. 15

    laura says

    I found out yesterday at my 20 week ultrasound that I have an anterior placenta. And yes I agree that its stupid….. just because I want to feel my baby move. I’m jealous of other mammas that feel constant movement. This is my 3rd baby and first time having to wait so long to feel much movement. I have felt baby move a few times here and there, but they are dull movements and seem to happen maybe once a day or every few days. The ultrasound tech said it may be another 3-4 weeks before baby is big enough to be get more. Not great news for the worlds most impatient person lol.

  9. 16

    Leanne says

    April — I completely relate! I’m 23 weeks with my 4th, and I’m just now feeling more consistent, undeniable baby movements. But it’s either very low in my pelvis or in my ribs or in my hip area. I swear, that placenta truly is a pillow in there! I was planning to get an ultrasound this week to calm my paranoia, but the movements are finally detectable. Hang in there. I know how that can drive even an experienced mamma nuts!

  10. 18

    Tara says

    I had an anterior placenta with my last baby and with my current pregnancy. With my last baby I was very rarely able to feel him move. Even up until he was full term. It was quite concerning, honestly. And my husband was never able to feel his movements like he’d been able to with my previous pregnancies. This time around I am feeling more movement, I’m guessing that is due to the placenta being in a bit of a different location even though it is still anterior.

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