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Along with the little one growing inside your uterus that matures over nine months of your trimester, there is the placenta of the baby too which is responsible for keeping the baby alive. What does this placenta do? Is it a sign of a healthy pregnancy? You’ll find the answers to these questions below:
What is the placenta?
The placenta is perhaps the lifeline between the baby and your blood supply that carries oxygen and nutrients to the baby. It helps and allows the baby through all the stages of the pregnancy, letting them eat and breathe too. This is also why the consumption of alcohol and caffeine are perhaps limited or neglected as it could impact the baby.
What makes the placenta helpful for the baby?
- The placenta provides nutrients, water, oxygen, antibodies against diseases, and to get rid of wastes like carbon dioxide, etc, for the baby.
- It extracts the need from the uterus as the blood flows, with it seeping up the nutrients, immune molecules, and oxygen molecules circulating in the system.
- It helps shuttle across the amniotic sac via the umbilical cord connecting to the placenta into the baby’s blood vessels.
- The placenta also carries the waste products out of the baby to the blood of the mother.
- The placenta also acts as a barrier between the child and the mother as it avoids the germs and also for the mother not to reject foreign materials from the baby.
- The placenta allows the blood cells and nutrients, keeping the bacteria and viruses out of the womb, and preventing the baby(s) blood cells from entering the mother’s bloodstream.
Aside from all these, doctors and scientists have also seen the placenta have more functions. While it is a passive bridge between the mother and the baby, the placenta also produces hormones that signal molecules like human placental lactogen (HPL), relaxin, oxytocin, progesterone, and estrogen. All of this is necessary during pregnancy as most molecules encourage the production of new blood vessels between your body and the placenta and also between the placenta and your baby, carrying oxygen to the fetus. It also helps the mother to prepare milk, also prevents lactating before you give birth, also boosts your metabolism, and helps supply energy to both of you.
How is the placenta formed?
In the 3rd week of pregnancy as post the egg has been released to fertilize, the follicle in the ovary collapses that comes along called the corpus luteum. It starts to produce the progesterone hormone, providing nourishment and support to the embryo throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.
The mass of cells that is the earliest form of an embryo gets implanted in the wall of the uterus in the 4th week of pregnancy post the sperm fertilizes an egg. These cells then go through a mass split away, burrowing deeper into the uterine wall forming the destined form of placenta unlike preparing the fingers, toes, and the brain like the other embryo’s cells. These are shaped like a disc organ, chock-full of blood vessels, taking over the corpus luteum in your second trimester.
In cases of fraternal twins, they will each have their own placenta and for the identical twins, it depends on when the fertilized egg splits. If the placenta has already been formed when the embryo split in two with one placenta sustaining both the twins with the umbilical cord linking in a shared placenta. And, if it splits earlier, there are two placentas for each baby with no linking of the umbilical cord.
However, it is only by the 12th week of pregnancy that the placenta develops with the little capillaries turning into larger vessels, providing oxygen and nutrients to the baby. They form structures to step in for the corpus luteum and sustain the baby for the rest of pregnancy, weighing almost a pound by the 40th week of pregnancy.
What are the potential problems that one needs to monitor with the oxygen and nutrients offering placenta?
A placenta just like the child needs the right pace of functioning and a healthy lifestyle. However, even if you are following all the rules for a healthy pregnancy, things could take an en route due to genetics. Or, other factors like age, blood pressure, past C-sections, and having multiple babies.
The problems that could occur with the placenta:
- Enlarged placenta
- Anterior placenta
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
- Placenta accreta spectrum
Other than this, if you face vaginal bleeding or another severe abdominal, back pain, rapid uterine contractions (when not in full-term), you need to contact your health care provider as they could signal a placental problem.
Nonetheless, the health care provider will be in check for any abnormalities in the position and size of the placenta during your ultrasounds, as they will be for the baby and the baby(s) blood.
According to scientists, the placenta shares genes with your baby and it could show molecular properties of early signs or conditions including preeclampsia, premature birth, genetic diseases, and even autism.
Delivering the placenta with the help of the health care provider
The placenta that remains inside your uterus is perhaps the last thing on your mind once you finally give birth to your child. But with the baby entering the world, the umbilical cord is cut, which means the placenta has no work left. Therefore, post delivering the baby, women with birth the placenta also known as stage three of childbirth.
This also means you will continue to have contractions as the health care provider speeds up the placenta delivery by gently pulling the umbilical cord or massaging your uterus. Perhaps you choose to throw it away as waste, place it safely, bury the placenta, plan on eating the placenta, etc, it all depends on you.
That’s all folks! This was all about the placenta of the baby and the problems it may bring along like the placenta accreta with safety measures, the placenta grows and forms, and the practice known to the doctors. However, do you also want to know about the mucus plug during pregnancy? Simply click and explore!
The placenta of the baby is perhaps one of the most important parts of the pregnancy that needs to be taken care of as well as delivered just like the baby, be it via normal or c section. The content/article above has every piece of information you’d need as parents while you’re in your pregnancy with health and problems well guided.