8 Incredible Facts You Never Knew About Placentas

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

  1. There are 32 MILES of capillaries (branches of blood vessels) in a placenta.

  2. 20% of the mother’s blood filters into the placenta every minute.

  3. The placenta plays the role of the lungs, kidneys, liver, immune and endocrine systems for the developing baby.

  4. It will dispose of itself when it is no longer needed, and is the only organ to do so.

  5. The placenta acts as a gland and secretes hormones to produce extra blood and needed nutrients.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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