During pregnancy, the placenta plays a key role in the development of your baby. Yet, it is something we often do not think about because we are focusing on our baby growing. However, it is helpful to have an understand the placenta’s role in protecting and developing the fetus.
So, when does the placenta take over? The short answer is around 12 weeks into pregnancy. There is much more to understanding the role of the placenta and how to protect it and your baby.
What is the Placenta?
The placenta is an amazing part of pregnancy and its role in the development of your body is crucial. The placenta is essentially an organ that develops during pregnancy to deliver the hormones that are necessary. It does everything that is necessary to keep the fetus healthy while in the womb until birth.
How is the Placenta Formed?
The placenta starts to form and grow as soon as the baby is conceived and it continues growing along with the baby until delivered. During the 3rd week of pregnancy, the ovary’s follicle collapses and is now known as corpus luteum. This starts adding in nourishment for the embryo.
During the 4th week of pregnancy, some cells begin to attach to the uterus wall. Some of these cells will attach themselves to a deeper place in the uterine wall forming an organ consisting entirely on blood vessels. This organ is known as the placenta.
The placenta will take over for the corpus luteum during the second trimester fully taking over responsibility.
When is the Placenta Ready?
The placenta continues to develop after the 4th week of pregnancy. By the 12th week of pregnancy, the placenta is fully functional and takes over providing nutrients, oxygen, waste management, and more.
According to What to Expect, “By week 12 of pregnancy, your placenta has all the structures it needs to step in for the corpus luteum and sustain your baby for the rest of pregnancy — although it will continue to grow larger as your baby grows. By the time you’re full-term at 40 weeks pregnant, your placenta will, on average, weigh about a pound.”
Signs the Placenta Has Taken Over
If you are pregnant, you may be wondering how you can tell the placenta has taken over. There are a few signs. Many women notice a lessening of morning sickness symptoms. Many women notices changes in their breasts. Your breasts may be more sensitive and may feel sore.
Role of the Placenta During Pregnancy
We have already touched on some of the crucial roles the placenta plays in pregnancy, but let’s discuss these in more detail. The placenta provides nutrients and oxygen to your baby through the umbilical cord. The placenta also plays a critical role in allowing oxygen to transfer from the mother’s bloodstream to the fetus.
The placenta produces the hormones necessary for pregnancy and also for the formation of blood vessels and organs in the fetus. The baby will need these organs after exiting the womb, so the placenta is necessary for helping prepare the baby for life outside the womb. Furthermore, the placenta also works as a barrier protecting the baby from germs or other harmful substances.
What Happens to the Placenta After the Baby is Born
The placenta continues to grow along with the baby until it is born. After your baby is delivered, you will then deliver your placenta. This is known as the third stage of labor. The doctor helps deliver the placenta by gently pulling the umbilical cord and massaging the uterus.
The placenta is removed by the doctor after birth because it is no longer needed. You may have heard that some woman consume the placenta to gain more nutrients. This is an option, as well as keeping the placenta to bury. While it is not practiced in the West frequently, some cultures see its importance.
During pregnancy, your doctor will monitor your placenta along with your baby. Doctors use ultrasounds to check size and position. There are different placenta issues the doctor may discover on ultrasound: anterior placenta, placenta previa, enlarged placenta, placental abruption, or placental accrete.
If a doctor notices one of these conditions, you will be closely monitored. In addition, if you have vaginal bleeding, severe back pain, and fast uterine contractions, you should seek medical help as it may signify placenta related problems.
To Wrap Up
The placenta plays a prominent role in the development and protection of the fetus. By the 12th week of pregnancy, the placenta should have completely taken over providing nutrients and more. It will continue to grow throughout the pregnancy and will be delivered by the doctor after your baby is delivered.
After reading this article, do you have any questions? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.