Placentas: 8 Amazing Facts About the Placenta That Expectant Parents Will Appreciate by Jessica Acree
Experiencing pregnancy is one of those mind-blowing miracles that you can't quite grasp the gravity of, even as you trust your body to take over and create life. The placenta is a critical part of that process. The organ begins forming within days of conception and fully takes over, umbilical cord and all, around week 12 as you begin your second trimester, according to What to Expect.
The placenta does it all. It provides oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and more to your unborn child. It's essential and fascinating and commonly the least misunderstood organ. Let's give the placenta a moment to shine with eight interesting facts:
- Immunity: Antibodies transferred from the mother to the fetus can provide three to six months of immunity for the baby after birth.
- Hormones: The placenta functions as a gland, secreting important hormones during pregnancy including the one (hCG) responsible for stimulating estrogen and progesterone production.
- It Takes Two: The placenta, though housed in the womb, is created by both Mom and Dad. The cluster of cells that is formed when the sperm fertilizes the egg, becomes the placenta and the baby.
- Healing Fetal Cells: They can be transferred to the mother and seem to target sites of injury. Evidence also shows the presence of these cells is increased in diseased tissues.
- Cancer Insight: The placenta develops in the body without being attacked. This allows researchers to learn more about how tumors can grow without intervention from the immune system.
- Disposable: Sure we can live without our appendix, but the placenta literally ejects itself when its mission is complete. A new one is formed with each pregnancy.
- Edible: Don't be so quick to toss it aside. Some mothers choose to ingest their placenta believing in big benefits. The most common way is through encapsulation. Some studies show it helps balance hormone levels, increase energy, boost milk supply and reduce postpartum bleeding.
- Spiritual Benefits: In some cultures, the placenta is considered a friend to the baby or even an elder sibling or sacred twin. A “Lotus birth” involves leaving the placenta attached until the umbilical cord naturally falls off. (See a beautiful photo of a Lotus birth.)
I distinctly remember the moment I "birthed" my daughter's placenta the evening of July 5, 2014, but confess that I didn't give it much thought or the respect it deserved for playing such an important role in her arrival. If she ever gets a sibling, that mighty little organ and I may need a moment together. What a little miracle worker!
What fact surprised you the most? Did you take part in a Lotus ritual or encapsulation after childbirth We've love to hear your story!
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