How your placenta works

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They say when you’re pregnant that you’re eating for two, but how do all those extra nutrients get to baby? Also, how can baby breathe in the womb? Let’s introduce you to your new friend, the placenta.

What does it do in the womb?

Think of the placenta as the middle-man between mom and baby. It exchanges oxygen-depleted blood and waste products from baby for oxygen rich cells and nutrients that baby needs. It’s like a constant swap meet going on in your uterus.

When the placenta begins to form, it attaches to the uterine wall where it grows as baby gets bigger. At full size, the placenta will weigh about one sixth of baby’s weight – usually around a pound. Identical twins will often share a placenta, whereas fraternal twins will typically have their own.

The placenta is an organ that is created solely for the purpose of nourishing baby — a physical link between your body and your little one.

Where does it go?

There are three stages of labor: pre-labor (when your water breaks and contractions start), delivery (when you push baby out), and afterbirth (the delivery of your placenta). Once baby gets here, the placenta separates itself from the uterine wall, which usually takes about five to thirty minutes. One good push is usually all it takes to then deliver the placenta once it has released.

The umbilical cord will almost always be clamped, then cut, before the placenta is delivered. New research suggests that delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord, for about a minute and a half to three minutes, can be beneficial for baby. It’s more time for baby to absorb nutrients from the placenta and return stem cells to their bloodstream. It’s called delayed cord clamping, and you may want to talk with your doctor about it before delivery.

What do you do with it?

Some cultures promote eating the placenta, as it contains nutrients and stem cells. In the United States, there are chefs who will cook it for you and services that will actually put it in pill form. However, there currently isn’t much science supporting the benefits of eating your placenta.

One interesting idea for discarding the placenta involves planting it in the ground underneath a sapling. The growing tree will be nourished by the nutrients that mom and baby shared.

As it is full of valuable stem cells, there are also some possible medical applications for the placenta. If you’re considering banking your baby’s cord blood, you might also want to consider placenta tissue banking. Your placenta contains a special kind of stem cell that is actually a match for you, and so may one day be used in beneficial medical procedures for you or your child.

Our partners at Americord have a number of innovative technologies that allow them to capture far more stem cells than the industry standard. If you’re interested, you can request an info kit by tapping here, or read more about placenta tissue banking here.

Stem cell research is an ongoing science, with lots of exciting future possibilities. Americord will store your baby’s stem cells for twenty years, ensuring that you can take advantage of any future medical advancements.

Tap the button below to request an information kit and learn more about banking your baby’s stem cells.

Request more information

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