Placenta: What Is It? Pregnancy, What Does It Do? And More

What Is Placenta?

The placenta is literally the “tree of life“, which comes from the Latin word, which is needed during pregnancy for the baby.

It is a temporary organ that forms in a pregnant woman’s uterus and is a highly complex machine.

The placenta is connected to the mother’s uterine wall to provide nutrients and oxygen to the baby through the umbilical cord.

The placenta is also known as “villous chorion“.

NOTE: Together the PL and umbilical cord act as a lifeline for the baby while in the womb.

When Does It Form?

The placenta begins to form, once the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall.

An ovulated egg is called a zygote, after a few days, the zygote completed many cell divisions in the fallopian tube.

Then the zygote reaches the uterus, where the zygote becomes a blastocyst, at this stage, some cells begin to form into the placenta and others begin into the form of the fetus.

At week 12, it is enough formed and ready to take over nourishment for the fetus (2)

However, it continuously grows throughout your pregnancy and is considered mature by 34 weeks.

When does the placenta take over?

Until the placenta is developed enough to provide nutrients, your baby receives nutrients from the lining of the uterus called the endometrium.

So how do babies get nutrients while in the uterus? here

At the early stage of pregnancy, the uterus lining secretes glucose, and it is the only source of nourishment for your baby.

At about 8 to 12 weeks into pregnancy, the placenta is developed enough that take over the further journey of your baby.

Check Out – How Do Babies Get Nourishment During Pregnancy? And More

What Does Placenta Do?

It is an important endocrine organ, that produces hormones and regulates both maternal and fetal health during pregnancy.

The villous chorion does several things that are important or needed for an unborn baby to grow which include:

  • Exchange oxygen and Co2
  • works as a digestive system
  • give baby proper nutrients, by absorbing all necessary nutrients for fetal development and growth
  • it functions as a kidney to remove wastes
  • behaves as an immune barrier that protects the growing fetus from antigen attacks from the maternal organ.
  • produces many hormones like estrogen, and progesterone and growth factors

Check Out – Monkeypox And Pregnancy: Relation, Symptoms, Risk, And More

However all, these works of normal work depend on normal pregnancy health and the placenta itself.

Insufficient or abnormal vascular development enhances the pregnancy risk in both mother and the fetus with complications.


A baby connected with placenta through umbilical cord
Placenta and Umbilical cord

What Normal Position of Placenta?

In most cases, the placenta position isn’t a cause of concern, however, there are some positions that need to know about are:

Posterior placenta – In this placenta grows on the back wall of your uterus, near your spine.

This is a completely normal position, it allows the baby to move into the anterior position just before birth.

Anterior – In this, your placenta is located closest to your abdomen in front of your uterus.

It is also a completely normal position during pregnancy (3).

Fundal – This type of this grows at the top of your uterus, it is also known as fundic, and fundus placenta.

However, this placenta tends to migrate towards the upper region of the uterus.

It is rarely a cause for concern unless accompanied by other symptoms or signs.

Lateral – This placenta grows on the right or left wall of your uterus (6)

The placenta position change is also common when the uterus stretches and grows In most cases, the placenta moves up until about 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Your healthcare, often checked your villous chorion positioning between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy using ultrasound.

What affects the health of the placenta?

There are many factors that affect its health during pregnancy including:

  • Age, especially after 40 year
  • smoking
  • abdominal trauma
  • uterine surgery
  • blood clotting disorder
  • high blood pressure
  • twins babies
  • previous placental problems

What Looks Like, How Big, And what Color is placenta be?

What is it look like?

It looks like a water balloon, which has lots of blood vessels, and these blood vessels spread like the root of trees.

The placenta is connected with the baby through the umbilical cord and branches throughout the placenta (5)

A red side (which is connected to the uterus) and one Gray or silver side (the side that faced the baby for all those months)

How big you can see it?

The average placenta is about 9 to 10 cm long (9 inches) in length and about 2-2.5 cm (0.8 -1inch) thick (7)

Also, the center is the thickest and the edges are the thinnest and weigh around 1 pound (0.45 kg) by the time when baby is born.

What about – Color?

It is dark reddish-blue or a little bit silver in color, and which connected to the fetus through the umbilical cord (length about 55-60 cm)

Complications of insufficient placenta

Insufficient development of it will compromise pregnancy outcomes these complications include:

  • Intrauterine fetal growth (when a baby in the womb does not grow as expected)
  • miscarriage
  • vaginal bleeding
  • preeclampsia (is one of the high blood pressure disorders that occur during pregnancy)
  • infection
  • rupture of membranes (7)
  • fetomaternal hemorrhage (when fetal blood enters the mother’s blood circulation before or during pregnancy)

How To Keep Placenta Healthy?

There is no specific thing or food that keeps your placenta more healthy, you just keep an eye on your diet, what do you do? like

Your baby’s health through the placenta is 80% dependent on your diet, so make sure to consume a healthy diet during pregnancy.

Food that must or you can consume during your pregnancy stage includes:

  • Dairy products
  • legumes
  • eggs
  • pulses
  • salmon fish
  • more fruits like avocado, oranges, etc
  • green vegetables
  • keep you hydrated with water
  • do pregnancy exercise like swimming, walking, stationary cycling, and yoga
  • whole grains
  • dried fruits

During pregnancy, your nutrients and vitamin intake are increased so focus on whole foods that give you higher amounts of the good stuff.

Make sure, to avoid these things that can easily trigger your baby’s health include:

  • avoid overeating, spicy and oily, and junk food
  • uncooked food
  • alcohol (goes your bloodstream to your baby through the placenta)
  • nicotine, tobacco
  • keep away from unprescribed medicine or illegal drugs
  • caffeine
  • unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice
  • sour food is considered unsafe during pregnancy
  • avoid rough and tough exercises like (running, hard gym, etc

Overall, avoid things that make you discomfort, and things that may lead to the risk of injury.

Is Placenta Still Important After Birth?

Placentas were once routinely disposed of or thrown away after birth.

But nowadays more parents are keeping the placenta after birth or many perhaps with good reason.

The placenta is rich in stem cells that can treat certain diseases and life-threatening conditions, which can be useful for another baby.

The doctor may check it for examining your baby’s health like fever, illness, infection, and more.

In addition, you have also heard that people eat the placenta, and that is true, after through process which converting it into tablets, etc

Some people believe that eating or swallowing the placenta can have several health benefits due rich in nutrients.

However, studies can not believe that and many are pending, so it may be harmful to you.

Down Line

It is a temporary organ that is connected to your baby through the umbilical cord and acts as a lifeline for the baby.

Look like a water balloon or cake which has lots of blood vessels, and these blood vessels spread like the root of trees.

The villous chorion has several functions including providing oxygen, behaving as an immune barrier, giving all nutrients, etc.


Hello, I'm Sahil bisht, I am a Mechanical engineer, As well as, aspiring blogger with an obsession for health. This blog delicate to people who want to learn in health.

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