So, you’ve spent your pregnancy celebrating the tiny human that you are now single-handedly growing, feeding, sharing closely intimate space with. The big day of birth arrives. You birth your beautiful baby. Then your care provider starts pushing down on your uterus like a bread-dough maker telling you “Ok, it looks like your placenta is on it’s way.” Then, suddenly you feel this jelly, blob-like organ come out of your body like you just sneezed something overly large from the wrong part of your body. Not only did you grow a human, you grew an entire organ to provide for that human and then expel along with it. That organ is unlike any other organ in your body and it is pretty crazy amazing. I could have listed more than 10 amazing facts about it, but these were my top 10 for sure.
1. FOR EVERY NEW PREGNANCY, THERE IS A NEW PLACENTA.
The placenta is the only organ that gets rid of itself when it is no longer needed. For every pregnancy, a new placenta is grown to care for the pregnancy. At birth, the placenta will detach and expel itself. Each pregnancy brings a new, uniquely grown placenta.
2. THE PLACENTA WORKS HARD DELIVERING NUTRITION.
When you slurp on a delicious milkshake during pregnancy, that milkshake doesn’t slide down your throat and somehow go past your stomach and magically into your baby’s tummy. Your body works hard to breakdown that milkshake and deliver the nutritional proteins from it to your bloodstream which is then broken down by – that’s right, you guessed it – the placenta.
The placenta essentially checks in the nutrients that arrive at it from the bloodstream and it send the nutrients through the umbilical cord to the baby. This is why nutritional health is so important during pregnancy! Although you’re “eating for two” your portions don’t have to double thanks to the placenta.
3. THE PLACENTA ACTS AS THE BABY’S LUNGS AND KIDNEYS.
As if this one organ wasn’t amazing enough, the placenta even does the work of two other organs – the lungs and kidneys. As you breathe in, oxygen is passed through the bloodstream to the placenta. The placenta again “checks in” the oxygen and passes it through the umbilical cord to the baby. When baby is first born and left attached to the un-expelled placenta via the umbilical cord (delayed cord clamping), oxygen continues to flow to baby as they adjust to their new surroundings and begin to breathe in air for the first time. How amazing is that!?
The placenta also acts as the baby’s kidneys by filtering and replenishing the amniotic fluid daily.
4. THE BIRTH PERSON & BABY’S BLOOD PASS THROUGH THE PLACENTA, BUT NEVER MIX.
As the birthing person, your blood passes nutrients to the baby and baby has their own blood circulating, yet the two never pass and mix. If the two mixed, the birthing person would create antibodies and expel the baby as a foreign object trying to attack. There are separate arteries in the placenta keeping them separated for their own protection and amazing work process.
5. IT IS MADE FROM BOTH THE EGG & THE SPERM.
Just as the baby is from the egg & sperm, so is the placenta! When the sperm fertilizes the egg it creates a blastocyst. From that blastocyst, as the cell continue to multiply, both baby & placenta are created. How amazing!
6. THE PLACENTA EXPULSION STIMULATES MILK PRODUCTION.
As the placenta releases and begins to expel itself, hormones are rushed through the body to begin milk production and stimulation. So as the organ took care of the baby within the body, it’s “dying wish” is for your own body to continue taking care of that same baby.
7. BABIES CAN USE THE PLACENTA TO PROTECT THE BIRTHING PERSON.
The baby’s cells can transfer to the birthing person during pregnancy. Through research, these cells have been found in the skin, liver, kidney and bone marrow. They have also been found in women with diseases like hepatitis C and cervical cancer. Evidence suggests that these cells target compromised areas such as diseased tissues. Just as the birthing person protects the baby, so does the baby protect the birthing person? The placenta can also protect the baby from some minor infections that the birthing person may get during pregnancy by creating antibodies against the infection.
8. THE PLACENTA SECRETES IMPORTANT PREGNANCY HORMONES.
The placenta not only secretes hormones important to a healthy pregnancy, but also for milk production! It secretes hCG, the pregnancy hormone which in return stimulates the production of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen increases blood flow and uterine growth among many other beneficial things. Progesterone supports a healthy uterine lining for the pregnancy. The placenta secretes these hormones and others to create a healthy pregnancy and healthy birthing person & baby.
9. THE PLACENTA GROWS WITH YOUR BABY!
Just as your baby grows from those tiny cells, so does your placenta come from those tiny cells. The placenta continues to grow with your baby throughout your pregnancy. By the end of the pregnancy, a healthy placenta can weigh up to 2 pounds!
10. TWINS DON’T ALWAYS SHARE THE PLACENTA.
Identical twins can either share one placenta, from each of their own umbilical cords, or they can share the same placenta. The deciding factor is when the egg splits. If the egg splits before the placenta begins to develop, then each twin will have their own placenta. If the egg splits after the beginning development of the placenta, the twins will share!
Did you take photos of or get to see your placenta? Can you think of any other crazy amazing placenta facts that I didn’t list? Which one surprised you most?