The placenta is an organ attached to the lining of the mother’s womb during pregnancy. It is a temporary organ that connects the developing fetus through the umbilical cord to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, thermoregulation, and elimination of waste and exchange of gas by the mother’s blood supply. The placenta plays a pivotal role in pregnancy.
1. Source of food for baby
Your growing baby needs nutrients, oxygen, water and antibodies to fight against any disease. The placenta provides all of these to your baby. As the blood flows to the uterus in your body, the placenta takes up all essential nutrients, oxygen and antibody molecules and provides it to your growing baby.
The placenta shuttles these components across the amniotic sac through the umbilical cord that connects the placenta to the baby and then enters into the baby’s blood.
2. Elimination of waste
All waste products from your baby’s body are taken out and eliminated through the baby’s placenta. When your baby builds up carbon dioxide or other things he or she doesn’t need, the placenta passes these back to your blood.
3. Act as a barrier
The placenta acts as a barrier in preventing not all but a few bacteria and virus away from reaching your baby’s body. It also prevents the baby’s cell from entering your bloodstream as it will then be treated as a foreign body.
Recent studies have shown that placenta is not just a passive bridge between you and your baby, the placenta also produces hormones and signaling molecules, such as human placental lactogen (HPL), relaxin, oxytocin, progesterone and estrogen, which are necessary for both of you during pregnancy.
The placenta is a crucial organ in pregnancy and in order to remain fully functioning and growing at the right pace, a placenta requires the same healthy lifestyle as your baby. You need to avoid smoking and use of any illegal drugs is banned. Eat healthily and be hydrated. Avoid being stressed and take proper care of your body.
Sometimes even after following every rule for a healthy pregnancy, things can go wrong with the placenta due to genetics or just by chance. There are other factors that can influence placental health which includes-Maternal age – age of the woman while pregnant, blood pressure, previous C-sections and being pregnant with multiples.
Potential Problems with the placenta are as follows-
If you experience any discomfort like vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal or back pain, or rapid uterine contractions before your due date, consult your doctor. These could be signs of placental problems.