What Is an Anterior Placenta?

A common occurrence in which the placenta attaches to the front of the uterus

An anterior placenta is one that is attached to the front of the uterus (womb). This is a common occurrence and usually does not pose any risk to you or your fetus. It may make it harder to detect early kicks and fetal heart sounds, however.

An anterior placenta is not a medical condition, but simply one of several possible locations the placenta—also called the afterbirth—can develop.

a pregnant woman holding an ultrasound scan result

 Karl Tapales / Getty Images

How Do You Know If You Have an Anterior Placenta?

A standard ultrasound is typically performed at 18 to 22 weeks of pregnancy and can detect an anterior placenta. (Ultrasounds completed in the first trimester are not considered standard because it is too early in the pregnancy to see the full details of how the fetus is developing.)

Standard ultrasounds provide information such as:

  • Position of the placenta
  • Size estimation, position, movement, and heart rate of the fetus
  • Amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus
  • Number of fetuses

You will not be able to tell if you have an anterior placenta without an ultrasound.

How It Affects Your Pregnancy Experience

Having an anterior placenta can change your pregnancy experience at a few stages, making fetal movement harder to detect and exams a bit more difficult to conduct.

Delayed Detection of Fetal Movement

Women are typically expected to begin feeling fetal movement and kicking between 18 and 24 weeks. With an anterior placenta, this may take longer.

An anterior placenta essentially acts like a cushion that sits between your uterus and belly. This can muffle movements, making them more difficult to feel and even recognize as what they are.

Often, those with an anterior placenta don't begin to feel kicks until later on in pregnancy, when the fetus is larger.

When you start to feel your baby kick can vary based on the size of the fetus, its location in the uterus, and if you've been pregnant before.

More Challenging Exams

Physical exams are completed during the final trimester by your practitioner feeling your abdomen for the position your fetus is in.

An anterior placenta makes it a bit more difficult for your healthcare provider to identify the position and the different body parts of your fetus.

In addition, an anterior placenta can also impact the following tests used to monitor a pregnancy:

Fetal Doppler Ultrasound

A fetal doppler ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to check your baby’s heartbeat. A placenta that is in the front of the uterus can muffle these sound waves, which means your practitioner may need to spend more to get a result.


An amniocentesis (amnio) is a procedure that uses a needle to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus test for testing or treatment. It is an optional test that is only recommended in certain situations.

An anterior placenta can make an amnio a bit more complicated because the needle may need to pass through the placenta in order for a sample to be collected. Given this, a practitioner may need to make a few attempts. This can also lead to some blood mixing in with the fluid.

Anterior Pregnancy and Normal Delivery

Having an anterior placenta usually doesn’t affect labor and delivery. You will likely still be able to have a vaginal delivery, as long as the placenta is not blocking the cervix and you do not have any pregnancy complications.

If you need a C-section and have an anterior placenta, your healthcare provider will be able to use an ultrasound to determine the safest location for the incision.

Some research shows that avoiding cutting into an anterior placement reduced the risk for mothers needing a blood transfusion—which is used to replace lost blood—following a C-section.

Risks of an Anterior Placenta

An anterior placenta doesn’t usually cause complications during pregnancy. However, some research suggests that an anterior placenta location could make it more likely to experience one of these pregnancy complications:

Other Placenta Positions

Aside from an anterior placenta, it's also possible for the placenta to be in any of these positions:

  • Posterior: Back of the uterus (toward the back of your body)
  • Fundal: Top of the uterus
  • Low-lying: Bottom of the uterus; can sometimes partially or fully cover the cervix
  • Lateral: Left or right side of the uterus

A placenta may also shift locations during pregnancy as the uterus and fetus grow.

An anterior position is common, but the most common locations for the placenta to attach tend to be either toward the top or the back of the uterus. It's believed that this is because there are more blood vessels in those areas, making it easier for the placenta to transport nutrients to the fetus.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

With all pregnancies and placenta locations, you should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Severe back pain
  • Pain, tightening, and cramping in the stomach
  • Uterine contractions

These are not necessarily signs of an issue with your placenta, but they do warrant evaluation.


The placenta is a vital part of a healthy pregnancy, and it can nourish your baby from any spot in your uterus. With an anterior placenta, you are just as likely to have a healthy pregnancy as any other placenta location. You may not feel your baby’s kicks as earlier or as strong, but other complications are rare.

Follow up regularly with your healthcare provider for normal prenatal care to be sure that you are having a healthy pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns, contact your provider to answer your questions and monitor the health of you and your baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is an anterior placenta good for pregnancy?

    An anterior placenta does not usually affect your pregnancy. The only real impact of an anterior placenta is that you may not feel your baby kick right away, and certain tests may become more challenging. For example, your healthcare provider may have more trouble finding your baby's heartbeat during an ultrasound.

  • Does an anterior placenta mean you're having a girl or boy?

    According to some theories, an anterior placenta means you're having a girl. There is limited evidence suggesting you may be more likely to have a girl if you have an anterior placenta, but it is by no means conclusive. One study found that out of 103 fetuses with anterior placentas, 72.8% were girls and 27.2% were boys.

  • What is anterior placenta previa?

    Anterior placenta previa is an anterior placenta that is also covering part or all of the cervix. You are not more likely to have placenta previa if you have an anterior placenta; this condition can also occur with a posterior placenta. Most of the time, the condition resolves on its own. If not, you may need to deliver via C-section.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Special tests for monitoring fetal well-being.

  2. Verspyck E, Douysset X, Roman H, Marret S, Marpeau L. Transecting versus avoiding incision of the anterior placenta previa during cesarean delivery. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015;128(1):44-47. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2014.07.020

  3. Zia S. Placental location and pregnancy outcome. J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2013;14(4):190-193. doi:10.5152/jtgga.2013.92609

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Placental abruption.

  5. Jafari RM, Barati M, Bagheri S, Shajirat Z. Fetal gender screening based on placental location by 2-dimentional ultrasonography. Tehran Univ Med J. 2014;72(5).

By Ashley Braun, MPH, RD
Ashley Braun, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian and public health professional with over 5 years of experience educating people on health-related topics using evidence-based information. Her experience includes educating on a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, HIV, neurological conditions, and more.