The placenta is a very important organ for the growth and protection of the fetus.
In this article, let’s take a look at the placenta, the organ that provides nutrients to babies. The placenta is an essential organ during pregnancy and an organ that only exists at this stage.
As the main function of the placenta is to deliver nutrients to the fetus for proper growth and development, this organ is an important link between the baby and the mother.
The word placenta comes from Latin and, as its shape suggests, means “flat cake”. As soon as the embryo is implanted into the wall of the uterus (within a week after conception), the placenta begins to form.
What Role Does the Placenta Play?
The placenta is a very important organ for the growth and protection of the fetus. Little is formed during the first few months, during which time the Endometrium is responsible for nourishing the embryo.
The placenta does not adopt a definitive structure until it begins to perform its functions at 18 weeks of gestation.
Promotes the Exchange of Nutrients and Hormones
It acts as the lungs of the fetus and supplies oxygen to the baby.
It acts as a filter to remove hazardous substances and waste. The placenta carries it into the maternal bloodstream where it is then removed through the kidneys.
Produces hormones, including human chorionic gonadotropin, that allow pregnancy to continue.
The placenta also synthesizes the female hormone estrogen. This hormone plays an important role in embryo implantation, breast development and placental lactogen. All of these hormones work together as a woman’s body undergoes the necessary changes during pregnancy.
How does the Placenta work?
The placenta communicates with the fetus through the umbilical cord. It consists of two arteries. One is to regenerate the blood flowing to the baby, and the other is to deliver waste products to the mother.
All these exchanges occur through the placental barrier. It is a membrane that selectively blocks many of the substances potentially harmful to the fetus.
Many microorganisms, such as bacteria, germs, and toxins, cannot cross the placenta. Thus, the baby is protected from an immature stage of the immune system. However, most viruses can cross or break this barrier, so it is very important to prevent infection in advance.
Composition and Location of the Placenta
The placenta is made up of several layers from the maternal component (the uterine membrane or mucous membrane transforms into part of the placenta) and the fetal component, the trophoblastic membrane. This fetal side also consists of hundreds of blood vessels.
The part of maternal origin is the outer part of the placenta. Because it is in contact with the uterine wall, it is also called the basal plate. It is also composed of a combination of embryonic and maternal tissues.
For location, the placenta is implanted and attached to the uterine wall. Usually, the placenta is in the anterior or posterior part of the uterus, without blocking the cervix where the baby will be born. When the placenta is located in the lower part of the uterus, we call it placenta previa.
Like any other organ, the placenta has biological processes. In other words, the placenta is born, grows, and dies. However, this institution is different from other institutions in that it lasts about 40 weeks, the same as the period of pregnancy.
Starting at week 41, the risk of placental dysfunction increases. This is known as senescent or mature placenta. This condition can form calcifications so that the placenta can no longer properly nourish the fetus.
At the end of pregnancy, the thickness of the placenta is usually 1.5~3cm, diameter of 15~20cm, and the weight is 450~550g. In the final stage, labor does not end until the placenta is released. There is still shrinkage at this stage.
It is important to ensure that the placenta is complete once it has emerged. If part of the placenta remains inside the uterus, complications can arise.
You can also monitor the health of this organ to get clues about your baby’s health and development.