The female body continues to amaze me especially when it comes to our pregnant body. Can you believe that as soon as an embroyo embeds into our uterus we grow an organ?!! An organ that, for the whole of our pregnancy, nourishes our baby, enables oxygen to flow to the baby and removes waste and cardon dioxide from the baby. The name of this beautiful, intricate, life giving organ – the placenta.
How does this amazing organ work?
The placenta has lots of veins and arteries that carries our blood through the placenta creating a pool of maternal blood inside the placenta. The important role of the Umbilical cord now comes into play.
The umbilical cord is a long cord which attaches the placenta to our baby and is made up of an umbilical vein and two umbilical arteries. The vein is responsible for carrying our blood, filled with oxygen, nutrients and glucose, to our baby. The arteries carry all the waste and Cardon Dioxide from baby back to the placenta which is then transferred back into our blood and disposed of through our urine.
Photo by Meghan Joy Yancy
The placenta also produces important hormones which we need to have a healthy pregnancy for us as mums and the baby. They include:
Relaxin - that hormone which softens up our body ready for the birth of our baby.
Oxytocin - the love hormone, which has endless benefits, including pain relief to support us through labour and releasing our milk from our breasts.
Progesterone - which plays an important role in the development of the fetus.
Oestrogen – which helps our baby’s organ to develop.
Phew have you got all of that!! To sum it up this organ is blooming incredible and is the ‘tree of life’ between us and our baby!
When we birth our baby, we no longer need this organ. So, yep you guessed it, we need to birth our placenta, and this is known as stage 3 of labour, something we are often not aware of having to do! But worry not, after we have had bub and you are hopefully able (if there are no medical emergency’s) to have skin-to-skin with our baby, we wait for our contractions to start again (some mums do not even feel this and for others it can be quite intense) to detach our placenta from the uterine wall to be born. Job done!
This placenta has been a huge part of the life of our baby and pregnancy and has attached us to our baby for 9 months.
With all that in mind would it not be wonderful to honour this incredible organ? Here are some amazing ways to do just that: -
· Delayed cord clamping – wait until the umbilical cord is white so all the nutrients from your placenta is passed to the baby before the cutting of the cord.
· Take a look and a photo – once the midwives have examined the placenta to ensure all of it was birthed make sure you ask to have a look and take a picture.
· Create a piece of art – take a piece of card in your hospital bag and ask the midwives to place the placenta on the card. The blood will create a print of this amazing organ, tree of life, which you can frame and keep forever.
Image via Nomi Palony
· Placenta encapsulation – you can have your placenta dried and made into capsules; this is a Chinese tradition that believes the nutrients in the placenta can support your recovery.
· Placenta Smoothie – this might be a little harder to digest but OMG it is filled with goodness.
· Create a tree for life – take your placenta home and plant it and with a seed and your tree/plant will grow as your newborn grows.
Mamma, to end, you are simply and truly amazing and so is your body!