Let’s talk about Placenta’s Science.
Placenta is so amazing that I don’t even know where to start.
However (go figure out), Placenta is not much loved in our hospital-centred-birth society. At the best, it gets an interested look at birth, at the worst, it is blamed for causing disruptive pregnancies. If it doesn’t get a disgusted “iiiiirk” when the conversion roll on the rumours of some hippies EATING THEIR PLACENTA, it’s not given much more consideration than trashes when it’s dumped in the bin.
So let’s give the Placenta the place of honour it deserves.
I’ll go from rational to spiritual step by step cause it is really interesting all the way long.
First, Science : Can it get more rational than that ?
Placenta’s science is growing every day. The more scientists look at it, and the more it feels that Placentas are the pregnancies’ brains !
Biologically, The baby and the Placenta are made from the same, Unique cell, that united spermatozoa and ovum. Just, let you 5 sec to reflect that : 1 Cell = 1 whole Baby + membranes + amniotic fluid + Placenta.
(if you’re as curious than me, go check out the Ninja nerd science video on embryology)
This ONE cell multiply quickly and after few days, sorts out the cells : 1 group for Baby + amnios and 1 group for the Placenta.
At the beginning, the Baby doesn’t need much oxygen so everyone grows at their own rhythm. The Placenta agenda is to be operational at the end of the first 3 months, when the baby will start an exponential growth and need more oxygen.
Placenta, the Ultimate pregnancy organ
From 3 months on, what the Placenta does is nothing more than being the Heart, the Lungs, the Bladder, the Stomach, the Kidneys, the Guts, the Liver, – and one could also say the Brain- of the Baby.
All the oxygen the Baby gets is coming through the Placenta, all the nutrients, all the cells of the immune system.
The Placenta sorts out what’s good and filters what’s not, it checks that everything comes at the right balance.
And if not, it will send a message to the maternal body to get more (this explain the pregnancy food craving or the raise of blood pressure in some pathology).
It also send all the waste products the Baby produces back to the mother whose body can handle it better.
You could imagine it a bit like this :
Placenta : Hey Chickpea, you’re ok, got everything you need ?
Baby : Could do with more sugar. And something nice, not like last time with this glucose thing.
Placenta : Ok, can it wait ‘til lunch or..
Baby : NOOOW !!
Placenta : Hey up there, we need Sugar! Fast! please.
Mother’s Brain : Sending signal for Chocolate, Ice Cream, Orange juice, whatever comes first ! Go Go Go!!
Placenta, the hormones maker
The Placenta is able to produce its own hormones.
The hCG, the one that is picked up by pregnancy test, is there to make sure the pregnancy can settle.
The other ones are coming a bit later to help the growth of the fetus and also influence the development of the maternal breasts.
Placenta, the brain of the pregnancy
That’s where the growing interest in science about placenta is really going on. It’s more and more believed that the placenta could be the brain of the pregnancy. Deciding how long it safe to carry on and when it’s the right time the start the birth.
Studying the internal weather, it can decide to precipitate the end of the pregnancy in case of, for example : the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen, doesn’t get enough food, there’s an infection going on that risks baby’s life…
Notice, the Placenta doesn’t care about the mother. That’s why in most of the pathology, it’s the mother’s health that pay the toll first.
One of the most widely spread pregnancy disease , pre-eclampsia, has all to do about Placenta. I’ll do an article about that soon.
So if you’re not yet amazed by Placenta’s science, wait for next time. We’ll look at legend, tradition and placenta.