All About Placenta
The placenta is a temporary organ that forms inside of your uterus during pregnancy. It helps to nourish your baby and flushes out excess wastes that form throughout the three trimesters of pregnancy.
Often referred to as the afterbirth, the placenta is formed out of the same cells that your baby forms out of.
The placenta is flat and shaped like a pancake, and has two sides: one side (known as the maternal side) attaches firmly to the inside wall of your uterus; the other side (the fetal side) faces the baby and provides him with nourishment through the umbilical cord.
What does the Placenta Do?
The placenta has a number of different functions throughout pregnancy:
Nutrient and Oxygen Supply
The main function of the placenta is to support your baby throughout the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy. Without the placenta, your baby would not be able to receive the oxygen and nutrients that she needs to ensure healthy development.
The fetal side of the placenta is made up of thousands of crisscrossing blood vessels. These blood vessels contain your baby's blood and waste products. The maternal side of the placenta is made up of pools of your blood, which contain the oxygen and nutrients that your baby needs to survive.
The placenta acts as transfer agent, helping to transfer the oxygen and nutrients from your blood to your baby's blood vessels. Meanwhile, your baby's waste is transferred from her blood vessels into your bloodstream. At no time does your blood ever mix with your baby's blood.
The placenta also offers hormonal support throughout your pregnancy. It releases estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) into your bloodstream. These hormones help to ensure that your body goes through the proper changes during pregnancy.
In order to make sure that your baby doesn't absorb any waste or chemicals from your blood, the placenta acts as a filter to keep these things out of your baby's system. However, the placenta does not provide complete protection from all dangerous products: cigarette smoke, alcohol, and certain medications can cross the placenta.