Importance of Placenta during Pregnancy
The placenta is nothing less than a miracle if you examine its importance during a pregnancy. It develops in the uterus and functions almost independently of your brain and the spinal cord.
What is a placenta?
It is your little one's life support system and plays a vital role in your baby's development during pregnancy. It is also called ‘afterbirth' as it comes out after the baby is born. It is about an inch thick in the middle and 8 or 9 inches across. It weighs a sixth of your baby's weight.
How is it formed?
Created from the embryo's cells and some of yours, it truly is a work of genius! It attaches to the uterine lining on one side and the umbilical cord on the other.
It all begins when the fertilized egg, also known as the blastocyst sets off on a quest to find the nutrients provided by your body. In search of the uterine wall, it wanders to the end of the fallopian tube and finally enters your uterus. This is the most dangerous race your little one will ever participate in.
In case the blastocyst does not implant itself within 7 days of conception, the lining of your uterus will shed and you wouldn't even realize you were pregnant. If the implant is successful, the placenta in the womb will start to flourish at the point of contact. It usually begins to develop at the very start of the first trimester, about a week after conception.
What does it do?
It serves the function of important organs like the lungs, liver, kidneys, as well as other organs until your baby develops. It supplies oxygen and nutrients and clears out waste products like carbon dioxide from your little one's blood.
Apart from nutrients, it constantly looks for immune and oxygen molecules present in the blood, which flows through your uterus. These are shuttled across the amniotic sac and into your baby's blood vessels via the umbilical cord that connects the placenta to your baby. Similarly, when your baby's body accumulates toxic substances such as carbon dioxide, it will pass these back to your blood.
The placenta is like a babysitter in your belly. One of its responsibilities is feeding your little one and this requires your help. Hence, what you eat during pregnancy is very important, so think twice before you take that bite. Put down that ‘pani puri' and instead consume nutrient-rich dairy products, legumes, whole grains, sweet potatoes, walnuts, Greek yogurt, and dark green, leafy vegetables. Eating healthy is critical to your little one's growth and development.
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