The placenta is among the main factors for the healthy development of the pregnancy. In fact, a pregnancy cannot go forward without a healthy placenta. But how does the placenta develop? What exactly is its role? What placental issues can appear? A lot of women don`t really know that much about this mysterious but very important part of the pregnancy.
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What Is the Role of the Placenta?
The placenta is one of the main players during pregnancy. Actually as mentioned above, a pregnancy cannot develop without a healthy placenta.
The placenta is the organ which “feeds” the fetus with oxygen, water and essential nutritive substances, as well as a way to eliminate all the residual fetal products, such as carbon dioxide.
The placenta produces a series of hormones and other essential factors for maintaining the pregnancy.
The placenta grows along the uterus`s mucosa and is attached from the fetus through the umbilical cord.
This indispensable organ is partially fetal, partially maternal. The fetal part is made of extremely specialized cells from the outermost embryonic membrane, which forms projections that contain fetal blood vessels. These projections are named chorionic villi. The maternal part is this uterine mucosa.
Practically, the placenta is formed from a combination of cells from the mother, the interface between the mother and the baby.
The placenta ensures a metabolic exchange between the fetus and mother during pregnancy, without allowing the direct mixing of fetal and maternal blood.
How Does the Placenta Develop?
The placenta usually grows on the superior part of the uterus, although sometimes can grow on its inferior part and cover the cervix. This is known as placenta previa. Almost 90% from all cases of placenta previa diagnosed in the second trimester can be corrected until the end of the pregnancy.
The umbilical cord of the child forms on the placenta`s side that is closest to the baby, attaching him to its life source. Maintaining a healthy placenta requires the same care as of a healthy child, an optimal diet and prenatal vitamins. Smoking isn`t something that can help a placenta to grow healthy, so it`s best if it would be avoided.
4 Medical Conditions of the Placenta during Pregnancy
Most women won`t have any problems with the placenta during pregnancy. There are some specific placental medical conditions about which mothers should be aware.
- Placenta previa – This can lead to maternal hemorrhage which in turn can lead to premature birth. All babies with placenta previa are born through C-section. Your doctor can determine by ultrasound if you have this condition. The blood vessels from the umbilical cord can pass above the cervix, when talking about the placenta. These are known as vasa praevia and can cause fetal bleeding if these vessels break when the water breaks. However, this situation is extremely rare.
- Placental abruption – The placenta can start to separate from the uterus prematurely. This is known as placental abruption. This can cause maternal bleeding and in case that the separation is serious enough and the oxygenation of the fetus is prevented, there might be issues that can appear which will involve the baby. Risk factors related to placental abruption will include smoking, consuming drugs and hypertension.
- Placenta accreta – This condition appears when blood vessels at the placenta`s level develop deep in the interior of the uterine wall. As a result, placenta accreta can determine an important vaginal bleeding during the third trimester of pregnancy or severe blood loss immediately after birth. Treatment can require performing a C-section followed by surgical removal of the uterus, known as hysterectomy.
- Placental retention – It appears when the placenta isn`t eliminated 30 – 60 minutes after birth. This may happen when the placenta becomes trapped due to a partially closed cervix or the placenta is still attached on the uterine wall – either weak (placenta adhesion) or deep (placenta accreta). If untreated, the placenta which remained in the uterus can cause a severe infection or a serious bleeding which may put the mother`s life in danger.
Symptoms of Placental Problems
Get to your doctor immediately if during pregnancy you experience:
- Vaginal bleeding;
- Abdominal pain;
- Severe back pain;
- Frequent uterine contractions.
How to Reduce Risk of Placental Medical Conditions
Lots of the placental medical conditions cannot be prevented directly. Still, the following advice can help you have a healthy pregnancy:
- Visit your doctor regularly during your entire pregnancy; – Read more;
- If you have any chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, your doctor needs to know and check it;
- Don`t smoke or consume drugs;
- Avoid doing a C-section if not necessary.
If during previous pregnancies you had a placental issue, talk to your doctor about it to be aware of the preventive measures you need to take to reduce the probability for that medical condition to come back. Your doctor will supervise your pregnancy during the entire 9 months.