When you are pregnant, you not only grow a tiny human being, but YOU ALSO CREATE AN ENTIRE ORGAN to help you grow your baby. The placenta has a huge job to do. It is responsible for getting your little one nutrients and basically acts as baby’s lungs while in utero by supplying oxygen and then filtering out the waste. It also acts as a barrier to protect against nasty, harmful bacteria and viruses. #NBD
It even produces its own hormones to help communicate with the pregnant person’s body! #Boss.
The placenta is attached to the uterine wall on one side, and then is attached to the baby on the other side, via the umbilical cord (which can be up to 23 inches long!!!). The baby lives in the amniotic sac, which is filled with fluid for extra protection. The amniotic sac is also attached to the placenta.
Check it out!
The placenta detaches from the birthing person via the vagina- that’s right, just when you think it’s over, you still gotta push out the placenta! The good news, though, is that this part can bring huge relief (finally, you’re all empty!) and isn’t so painful. Since, as the placenta isn’t made of bones, so it comes through the vaginal canal with ease. The placenta typically comes out between 5 and 45 minutes after baby is born. When baby comes earthside, she will start using her lungs instead of the placenta to breathe for the first time.
When you cut the cord, you are detaching baby from the placenta.
The birth of the placenta signals the body to start its whole new job: making milk for baby and shrinking your organs back to a non-pregnant state. #novacay
How on earth do I grow a whole organ?!
After Sperm meets Egg and they DO IT (aka fertilization), this newly formed blastocyst implants itself on the uterine wall where its inner cells develop into an embryo and its outer cells, the placenta. The placenta grows from the same blastocyst that also develops the fetus and grows throughout pregnancy right alongside the baby! The placenta is fully formed by 18 to 20 weeks but continues to grow throughout pregnancy. At delivery, it weighs about 1 pound and can be the size of a dinner plate (and an inch thick too!).
Why we love it:
We love this powerhouse organ because it is what connects you to baby and is responsible for growing and supporting an entire new being.
There is nothing else biologically that has a more intimate connection. The placenta is also one of the most mysterious, least understood temporary organs. Simply the concept of a temporary organ blows us away.
Fun things people do with their placentas:
- Eat it in a smoothie
- Dehydrate it and take it as a pill
- Make a tincture and save it for menopause
- Leave the placenta connected to the baby for multiple days (so no cutting the chord). This is called a lotus birth.
- Bury it
- Bank it. The umbilical cord tissue is very rich in stem cells and we are currently exploring their potential future use in regenerative medicine.
Crazy cool facts about the placenta:
- One part of the placenta is genetically and biologically part of the pregnant person, and the other, part of the baby.
- Some identical twins share a placenta!
- Babies can send cells through the placenta that may protect and heal the pregnant person’s organs!
- It transfers antibodies from the pregnant person to the baby!
Research and Contributions by: Megan Runge, an earthy girl who loves everything reproductive health-related from IL.