Placenta: Your Baby’s Nurturing Armor

3 min read

placenta
Anindita Bhuyan
Anindita Bhuyan, a graduate of BBA in International Business and a native of Assam. I crave to experience an odyssey and share that via words, that is where I have an eternal love for writing.

Hey there! Are you expecting a child? Are you feeling the normal twinges in your pregnant belly and are worried about your baby angel? Well then, we say you have nothing to worry about. Your baby is completely safe under the guard of your “Placenta”.

The female body is incredible. A woman produces all the necessary conditions and environment in her uterus for the development of the baby. The amniotic sac, umbilical cord and the placenta are the main components that support the growth and nourishment of your baby. The amniotic sac wraps up the baby and the umbilical cord connects the placenta with the foetus(baby). The placenta plays a major role here. 

You might be wondering what a placenta is? 

Meaning of Placenta:

Well, The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby’s blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus, and your baby’s umbilical cord arises from it. 

Placenta

The organ is usually attached to the top, side, front or back of the uterus. In rare cases, the placenta might attach in the lower area of the uterus. When this happens, it’s called a low-lying placenta (placenta previa). The placenta is the lifeline between your baby and your blood supply. Through all stages of pregnancy, it lets your baby eat and breathe — with your help, of course. The connection is also why consuming substances such as alcohol and caffeine can impact your baby.

Function of placenta

The placenta intermediates the transfer of nutrients between mother and fetus. To grow, your baby needs water, oxygen, antibodies against diseases, and a way to get rid of unneeded waste like carbon dioxide. The placenta provides all of these. As your blood flows through your uterus, the placenta seeps up nutrients, immune molecules, and oxygen molecules circulating through your system.

It shuttles these across the amniotic sac — through the umbilical cord that connects the placenta to baby — and into your baby’s blood vessels. Likewise, when your baby builds up carbon dioxide or other things he or she doesn’t need, the placenta passes these back to your blood.

The placenta also acts as a barrier, since it’s vital that germs in your body don’t make your baby sick and also that your body doesn’t reject your baby as foreign material. So at the same time the placenta allows blood cells and nutrients through, it keeps most (but not all) bacteria and viruses out of the womb. It also prevents many of your baby’s cells from entering your bloodstream, where they might set off alarms. 

Types of placenta

In humans the types of the placenta are:

  • Decidual placenta: It takes a part of the uterine mucosa when it is expulsed. 
  • Allanto-chorial placenta: The choral placental circulation is connected with the fetal allantois. 
  • Hemo-chorial placenta: A placenta in which the maternal blood is in direct contact with the chorion. 
  • Discoid placenta: A single placenta is formed and is discoid in shape. Within this, the cotyledons are the approximately 15-25 separations of the decidua basalis of the placenta, separated by placental septa. Each cotyledon consists of the main stem of as chorionic villus as well as its branches and sub-branches. This is also called Pseudo cotyledon placenta. 

Development of placenta:

A baby goes through several stages of development, beginning as a fertilized egg. The egg develops into a blastocyst, an embryo, then a fetus. At the end of the 8th week after fertilization (10 weeks of pregnancy), the embryo is considered a fetus. 

Placental development starts with the first contact of the outer shell of a developing blastocyst with the uterine mucosa. This occurs almost around 6 to 7 days after fertilization. The 32-64 cell blastocyst contains two distinct differentiated embryonic cell types: the outer trophoblast cells and the inner cell mass. The trophoblast cells from the placenta. 

Placenta

With the beginning of the process of gestation, placental stem cells are formed. These are known as progenitor cytotrophoblast cells. These cells differentiate or change, to form the placenta. Some of the cells from the outer layer of the placenta while others form the inner layer. The outer layer cells turn into a form of the epithelium, almost like skin cells, that function to transport gases, nutrients, and wastes.

They also make hormones that guide fetal, placental, and maternal systems throughout the pregnancy. The cells begin penetrating the lining of the uterus to connect the blood supply of the mother. The inner layer of stem cells turns into arteries and muscle cells that later turns into Uteroplacental arteries and veins that will connect blood supply between the mother and the baby. 

As the placenta develops, it extends tiny hairlike projections (villi) into the wall of the uterus. The projections branch and branch in a complicated treelike arrangement. This arrangement greatly increases the area of contact between the wall of the uterus and the placenta, so that more nutrients and waste materials can be exchanged. The placenta is fully formed by 18 to 20 weeks but continues to grow throughout pregnancy. At delivery, it weighs about 1 pound.

It is on a mother’s part to take care of herself for the proper healthy growth of her baby. It is always advised to avoid the use of alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoking, this might have a serious impact on a baby’s health. Visit your doctor regularly. 

If you deliver your baby vaginally, you’ll also deliver the placenta vaginally — during what’s known as the third stage of labour. You might be asked to push one more time to deliver the placenta. If you have a C-section, your health care provider will remove the placenta from your uterus during the procedure. Your health care provider will examine the placenta to make sure it’s intact. Any remaining fragments must be removed from the uterus to prevent bleeding and infection. 

If you’re interested, ask to see the placenta. In some cultures, families bury the placenta in a special place, such as their backyards.