I had heard about “birthing” a placenta. I mean, my childbirth class talked about it. But after I gave that final push and heard my precious baby crying - I completely forgot about it. Then all of a sudden, when the nurse told me to flip over so they could deliver the placenta, I remembered and thought “uhh what? I need to push something else out?”
Luckily, pushing the placenta out didn’t hurt (except for the deep tissue massage the nurse was giving my abdomen). The nurse placed it in a bowl and inspected it - it’s important to ensure the placenta is intact. If it’s not, the retained placenta can cause a hemorrhage. Mine was intact, and she tipped the bowl over and asked - “want to look?”
What I saw was beyond words. It was a mixture of disgusting and amazing - and I kept going back and forth between both those feelings. I was in awe that what I was looking at completely nourished my baby for 9 months. I was also a little grossed out to see an organ that was inside of me all the sudden not inside me anymore. But this whole experience gave me a whole new appreciation for placentas.
With this new appreciation, I decided to do some research. What I found was AMAZING, so I thought I’d share.
8 INCREDIBLE Facts About Placentas
- There are 32 MILES of capillaries (branches of blood vessels) in a placenta.
- 20% of the mother’s blood filters into the placenta every minute.
- The placenta plays the role of the lungs, kidneys, liver, immune and endocrine systems for the developing baby.
- It will dispose of itself when it is no longer needed, and is the only organ to do so.
- The placenta acts as a gland and secretes hormones to produce extra blood and needed nutrients.
- It has two different textures on either side - one side is full of veins and arteries, and the other side is rough and almost meaty in texture.
- The umbilical cord attaches the growing baby to the placenta, and is made up of three blood vessels: two smaller arteries which carry blood to the placenta and one larger which returns blood to the baby.
- Women have eaten the placenta (or encapsulated it) for centuries - anecdotal evidence says that doing so can help level out hormones and ward against depression. A recent study has refuted this, though.
Let’s give an air-five to the mysterious organ that develops and sustains life! Let me know in the comments below - if you’ve had a baby, did you get to see your placenta? What were your thoughts, if you saw it? I’d love to hear.
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