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Placenta

The placenta is a fetomaternal organ that is formed after fertilisation when the zygote implants into the mother’s uterine lining. It has 2 main components: the fetal placenta, which develops from the zygote, and the maternal placenta, which grows from the mother’s uterine tissue.

The placenta grows throughout your pregnancy and at 40 weeks will be approximately 9 in./22 cm. long, 0.8-1 in./2-2½ cm. thick and weigh about 1 lb./2.2 kg. It has a dark-red or crimson colour, much like a very bad bruise and is disk shaped. Along with your baby and the amniotic fluid, the placenta spends your pregnancy in the amniotic sac.

The placenta has three main functions in the womb:

  1. Nutrient uptake
  2. Waste elimination
  3. Gas exchange

These functions are all carried out through the mother’s blood supply (that’s you mum!), but the placenta also separates you and your baby’s circulatory systems. The placenta is attached to your baby via the umbilical cord which transports all those nutrients, gases and waste. The placenta also has a few secondary, but very important, functions such as: providing your baby with necessary growth hormones, protecting your baby from bacteria (but unfortunately not viruses too) and during the later stages of pregnancy giving your baby some of your antibodies so he can fight infections after birth. Remember mum, everything you eat, drink and smoke your baby also eats, drinks and smokes. This means alcohol, cigarettes and drugs of any kind are a big no-no more than ever.

How do I deliver the placenta?

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