What does the placenta do? Learn about the placenta!

What is the placenta?

What is the placenta exactly?

The placenta is frequently talked about during pregnancy, but do you know what it is?

It’s an organ! The placenta develops when you become pregnant as a way to protect and nurture your developing baby. It then leaves your body through the birthing canal following the birth of your baby. It’s actually essential that the entire placenta leaves your body following birth, otherwise you may experience bleeding or an infection. So, if you were wondering if you always have a placenta your whole life, the answer is you don’t! It only exists during a pregnancy.

What is the purpose of the placenta?

Think of it as the organ of life. The mother’s placenta is connected to her baby through the umbilical cord. Through this connection, the placenta is able to filter and deliver important nutrients to the developing baby, including oxygen. The placenta also keeps your baby’s body safe and healthy by removing waste products from your baby’s blood. Amazingly, the placenta enables the support, nourishment and protection of the baby, all without the mother’s and baby’s blood mixing, preventing infections in the baby.

Where is the placenta?

It is attached to your uterus’ wall at either the top, side, front, or back.

Can there be issues with the placenta?

A condition known as placenta previa occurs if the placenta attaches to the bottom of the uterus. This condition usually resolves itself as the pregnancy progresses, but if the placenta is covering the cervix during labor, a caesarean section will be necessary.

Placenta accreta occurs if the placenta does not attach to the uterus or is improperly attached, which may result in heavy bleeding and can be life-threatening.

If you experience a placental abruption, it means the placenta has become detached from the uterus prematurely, before labor. This condition will impact the delivery of nutrients to the baby and may require an early delivery of the baby.

What can I do to keep my placenta healthy?

To keep your placenta and baby healthy, be sure to go to all your regular pregnancy check-ups with your obstetrician. This can ensure routine monitoring of your body and pregnancy so that any possible issues can be detected early.

Abstain from alcohol and any drug use, including smoking cigarettes.

Notify your doctor of any medications or supplements you are taking and also be sure to inform them of any prior placenta issues you may have had with previous pregnancies.

If you have further questions about placentas and/or pregnancy, we encourage you to ask your healthcare provider, or schedule a consult with on of our pregnancy expert Garden OB/GYN Obstetricians.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/placenta/art-20044425

https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/what-is-the-placenta

 

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