Placenta: 7 vital functions for your baby

Placenta: 7 vital functions for your baby

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The placenta, it is him will ensure for nine months the exchanges between your future baby and you. He breathes for him, feeds him, protects him ... in short, he fulfills essential functions during pregnancy. Zoom on his role.

1. He is the link between you and him

  • At the precise moment when the egg has just been nested in your uterus (nesting), its outer envelope sends many filaments into the uterine lining. These filaments, called villi of the placenta, are like tree trunks. In a few weeks, they are divided into branches, which subdivide themselves into secondary "twigs". These "twigs" are bristling with dozens of small clumps (the terminal villi) that constitute the organ of communication between you and your baby. They are bathing in a kind of blood lake, yours.
  • The blood of the fetus brought by the umbilical cord circulates in these villi. But, contrary to what we often think, your two bloods never get mixed up. The exchanges are made only through the membrane of each villus. Eventually, all this blood network set up by the placenta can reach fifty kilometers!

2. He breathes for him

  • The lungs of your future baby being drowned in pulmonary fluid, it's up to the placenta to work in their place. It will transmit oxygen to your baby through the wall of its villi and take care of recovering its carbon dioxide in the other direction. This carbon dioxide is then eliminated at the same time as yours ... If nothing comes to stop the mechanics. Indeed, the good oxygenation of the fetus depends in particular on your blood flow in the uterus and the placenta: close to the term, this rate is 600 milliliters per minute. However, for a smoked cigarette, for example, this flow is greatly reduced for a quarter of an hour. Consequence: during this quarter of an hour, the fetus receives less oxygen ...

3. It feeds it

  • The digestive tract of your baby is not working, the placenta eats and assimilates in its place. To provide your baby with all the nutrients he needs to grow, all the raw materials that will be used to make newborn tissues and cells, the placenta uses highly sophisticated "transportation aids" tailored to each substance. .

Here are some examples:

  • Your baby needs glucose, which provides nearly 50% of the energy it needs: to accelerate the spread of this vital substance from the maternal blood into the blood of the fetus, the placenta uses a carrier molecule . This is called "facilitated transport".
  • But the placenta can do even better, with the "active transport", used in particular for iron (a substance also essential for your baby to the extent that it allows him to increase his blood supply) or calcium ( which allows him to mineralise his bones). Thanks to this active transport system, iron and calcium are literally "captured" in the maternal blood by a "transporter" that drives them from one side of the membrane to the other. This "carrier" sees only the interest of the fetus, so that when your contributions in iron and calcium are insufficient to cover your needs to both, it is you who suffer: the "carrier" does not care absolutely not your health, only the comfort of your baby interests him. That's why we warn you against the risks of pregnant anemia! On the other hand, thanks to this system, maternal malnutrition often has only a limited effect on the baby's growth.

4. He eliminates for him

  • We have already seen that the placenta is responsible for eliminating the carbon dioxide present in the blood of the fetus. It acts the same with urea. And also with bilirubin that the liver of the fetus can still take care of and "detoxify" for lack of maturity. Moreover, at birth, the liver of a baby is still often immature. This explains the jaundice which newborns suffer quite frequently. Because after birth, the placenta is no longer there to take over.

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