The placenta is an organ that attaches to the wall of your uterus during pregnancy, and plays a crucial role throughout the pregnancy journey. Your baby’s umbilical cord arises from it, and it performs essential functions that help maintain the pregnancy and your baby’s growth, while supporting the changes in your body in preparation for birth.
When does your placenta structure finish developing?
By 12-13 weeks of pregnancy, or the beginning of the second trimester, the placenta structure is now complete.
It will of course continue to grow in size through the remainder of your pregnancy.
Functions of the placenta
Your placenta is now your baby’s life support system, performing a variety of essential functions that help your baby keep developing. It:
- Supplies a filtering system that allows your baby yo eat, breathe and excrete waste; it provides oxygen and nutrients to your developing bub, while also removing waste products from your baby’s blood
- Is responsible for producing higher levels of hormones that help maintain your pregnancy, while signalling the changes in your body to prepare for birth and breastfeeding
- Forms a sort of ‘protective barrier’ helping to shield your baby against most infectious agent (some microbes can cross the placenta – consult your physician for more information)
Successful functioning of the placenta
Good blood supply to the arteries in your uterine wall will help the successful functioning of your placenta.
Actions, events, health problems or disorders that affect blood flow to the placenta can affect the functioning of the placenta and may impact your baby’s growth. This includes:
- Smoking and substance abuse
- High blood pressure
- Previous surgery on your uterus
- Blood-clotting disorders
- Having twins or multiple pregnancies
- Abdominal trauma
If you would like more information or have concerns regarding any of the above, please consult your physician.