top of page

10 Amazing facts about the placenta!

Many parents are unaware of the role of the placenta, what it does, how it's created or even what to do with it after birth, so here are 10 amazing facts about the placenta.

A placenta, with cord in a heart

#1 - THE PLACENTA IS A MULTIFUNCTIONAL ORGAN

While the baby is still in utero, the placenta performs the functions that the lungs, kidneys, and liver do for humans after birth. It supplies oxygen, nutrients, and antibodies to the baby, while filtering out waste and carbon dioxide from your baby’s blood.


#2 - THE PLACENTA HAS A MATERNAL AND FOETAL SIDE

This amazing organ has two distinct surfaces. The maternal side is attached to the uterine wall. The maternal side is dark red as it contains maternal blood.


The foetal side is shiny and grey in colour. It’s shiny because it’s covered by part of the amniotic sac. It’s also where the umbilical cord inserts, usually into the centre of the placenta.


With the umbilical cord and the blood vessels that branch out like roots, the placenta looks a lot like a tree, hence the nickname “Tree of Life”


#3 - THE PLACENTA IS THE ONLY DISPOSABLE ORGAN

Sure there are other organs that we can live without, but the placenta is the only organ that naturally expels itself. It’s created for single use. Once it has served its purpose it leaves the body. Each pregnancy grows a new placenta to support your baby


#4 - THE PLACENTA FUNCTIONS WITHOUT DIRECT CONTROL OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM

This incredible organ, developed like your baby from just a sperm and an egg, doesn’t contain any nerve cells. That means that it isn’t under the control of the brain or the spinal cord.


The placenta develops and functions all by itself without being connected to your brain.


#5 - THE BLOOD OF BOTH MOTHER AND BABY PASS THROUGH THE PLACENTA, BUT NEVER MIX

Every minute, around 20% of the parents blood (around 550ml) is passed through the placenta, but the baby's blood and parent's blood never mix.

If they did, the parent's immune system would create antibodies for the baby's blood in an attempt to get rid of it.

Instead, the baby's blood and parent's blood pass through separate arteries in the placenta.


#6 - IDENTICAL TWINS MAY OR MAY NOT SHARE A PLACENTA

There may be one shared placenta, or one placenta for each foetus depending on when the fertilised egg divides!

If the egg separates before the placenta is formed, there will be two, if it splits after, only one.


#7 - FOETAL CELLS CAN TRANSFER TO THE PARENT THROUGH THE PLACENTA

Foetal cells migrate into the mother during pregnancy. This probably occurs in all pregnancies and the foetal cells can be present for decades.


Foetal cells have been found in the skin, liver, kidney, blood and bone marrow of pregnant people. They may target and help heal injured areas, and there is evidence that they exist in higher quantities in diseased tissue. It could be that the transfer is a secondary symptom of pregnancy. Alternatively, it could be a mechanism by which the foetus ensures the parents fitness in order to enhance its own chances of survival.


Pretty amazing right?


#8 - SOME PEOPLE CONSUME THEIR PLACENTAS AFTER BIRTH

The practice of placentophagy (eating the placenta) is on record as far back as the 1500s, in traditional Chinese medicine.

There might not be large scale studies but anecdotal evidence shows that people who consume their placentas after birth reap numerous benefits, such as:

  • Balancing of postnatal hormones

  • Reduction of postnatal depression

  • Increase in energy levels

  • Replenished iron stores

  • Reduction of postnatal bleeding

  • An increase in milk supply

#9 - WHEN THE PLACENTA LEAVES, MILK PRODUCTION STARTS

The placenta isn’t responsible for producing breast milk, but it does play a big role.


The placenta produces a hormone that suppresses milk production in pregnancy. Once it has separated from the uterine wall, it triggers the production of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production.


If there is any retained placenta some parents have noted a poor milk supply.


#10 - THE PLACENTA GROWS AS YOUR BABY GROWS

Like your baby your placenta grows with it. By the time your baby is born, the placenta will be 8-9 inches wide, an inch thick in the middle and weigh on average 1.5lbs.



Placenta

Its pretty amazing what our bodies can do right?!

12 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page