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We have heard a lot about the placenta. Among them, that it is used to make cosmetic creams or that some people would be willing to try after delivery. But what exactly is the placenta? How useful is it during pregnancy? Is it always the same or does it evolve? And how true is the amount of properties What do they attribute to it?
The word 'placenta' comes from Latin, and it means 'circular cake'. The truth is that it is an organ with a viscous appearance, with a more or less circular shape that exists only and exclusively in pregnant women. That is, it grows during gestation and is expelled in childbirth after the baby is born. It measures about 25 centimeters in diameter, is 2.5 centimeters thick, and weighs about half a kilo.
The placenta is the most important organ for the baby, because it is the one that keeps him alive until his birth. Supplies you food, oxygen and facilitates excretion (eliminates the waste produced by the baby). It is housed on the inside of the uterus and is in direct contact with the blood of the mother.
But what is the placenta? How is it formed? The placenta is born from the same cells from which the baby will be born: the egg and the sperm. It begins to form from the second week of pregnancy and has two components: one of them is a portion fetal and the other is a portion maternal.
The placenta it is a changing organ. It evolves throughout pregnancy, from implantation (in the second week of pregnancy) to the end of pregnancy. It can be said that it is an organ that is born, grows and dies. The most obvious changes develop in the first four months of pregnancy, especially due to the gradual increase in size. From then on, the placenta will undergo very slight changes until the last month of gestation. You will get older and your ability to deliver nutrients to your baby will decrease.
The placenta receives all the nutrients that the mother's blood carries. But how does the baby receive them? Through the umbilical cord. It is the one that in turn unites the baby with the placenta. The umbilical cord is a vascular conduit through which nutrients and oxygen circulate from the placenta to the baby, and through which waste and carbon dioxide return from the baby to the placenta. At no time do the baby's blood and the mother's blood mix.
And you can say that the placenta It is an almost perfect organ due to the number of functions it performs during the pregnancy:
- It enables the circulation of oxygen, amino acids, fats Y glucose between mother and baby.
- Get to eliminate baby waste and purify your blood.
- Capable of generating hormones that transform the mother's metabolism to ensure the correct development of the pregnancy (Among the hormones it generates, there is the famous Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, the one that makes the pregnancy test positive).
- Get the immune system the mother does not regard the fetus as an 'intruder' to be eliminated. In other words, it protects you.
- Acts as a barrier to stop harmful substances for the baby, like the virus, parasites or bacteria. Although in the latter it is not perfect: there are other substances that manage to cross the placenta, such as the drugs, the tobacco, the caffeine or the alcohol. Or diseases like toxoplasmosis.
- They offer physical protection: together with the amniotic fluid bag, they offer the baby a cozy and safe place, with a constant temperature and protection against external shocks or sudden changes in temperature.
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