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What You Need to Know about Growing and Birthing the Placenta

What You Need to Know about Growing and Birthing the Placenta

 

The Placenta: What is it and What Does it Do? 

If you have a vaginal birth, shortly after your baby is delivered someone will prepare you to deliver the placenta. If you have not been told that there is something else that needs to come out of you, this might come as a shock. The placenta is a magical organ that forms to support your baby throughout pregnancy and birth. Yes, your body creates an additional organ to take care of your growing baby. Here we will look at what the placenta is, what the placenta does, and why it is such an amazing part of pregnancy and birth.  

What Does the Placenta Do?

The placenta grows as your baby grows. It is connected to your baby via the umbilical cord. Your baby receives nutrients from the placenta. It also removes waste products in order to protect your baby. So it is both a barrier and a provider. This magical organ nourishes your baby through his development inside the womb.  

How is the Placenta Delivered?

If you have a cesarean birth, your medical team will deliver the placenta with the baby. If you have a vaginal birth, you will need to deliver the placenta vaginally as well. Your body will continue to contract after your baby has arrived and assisted in delivering the placenta. You will be instructed to push or breathe out the placenta in the same way you did with your baby.  The placenta usually comes quickly. You may even be so distracted by getting to know your newborn that you do not notice much of the placenta delivery. Some women, though, indicate that delivering the placenta is uncomfortable. Personally, I do not remember delivering the placenta with my first birth. On the contrary, I had complications with delivering my placenta the second time and it was the only point birth that I utilized medication via IV. Like everything else with motherhood, each experience looks different, and being informed and prepared can help you in your own personal experience.  

Possible Placenta Complications

In most births, the placenta grows along with the baby, is delivered, and is complete with its’ duty. However, there are some complications that can arise with the placenta that you should be aware of.  

Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa (low lying placenta) can occur during pregnancy and can complicate birth options for women. This condition is when the placenta attaches to the bottom of the uterus. While it usually resolves during pregnancy, if the organ is still attached to the bottom of the uterus when it is time to birth, it may be covering the cervix. If the placenta is covering the cervix, a cesarean birth may be necessary.  

Placenta Abruption

This condition occurs if the placenta detaches from the uterus early. If this happens, it is cause for concern because your baby is no longer getting the nutrients and protection needed. Placental abruption can be cause for early delivery.  

Placenta Accreta and Retained Placentas

When you deliver the placenta after giving birth to your baby, it is important that the entire placenta is removed from your body. If any of the placenta is left behind inside the mom’s body, this can cause infection. If your placenta or a part does not deliver within 30 minutes, this is considered a retained placenta and a cause for intervention. This can happen if the entire or parts of the organ do not separate from the uterus and deliver before the uterus closes. This could impact the minutes and hours after birth, or it can impact more long-term if it is not caught and diagnosed. Placenta Accreta is a severe case when the placenta remains attached to the uterus because it has grown too deeply into the uterine wall.  

Personally, I was very surprised in my second pregnancy when my cervix began closing before my placenta was fully delivered. This required my medical provider to manually go in through my birth canal and retrieve my placenta in order to avoid abdominal surgery to remove it.  

Placenta Insufficiency

If at some point in your pregnancy, the placenta is unable to deliver sufficient nutrients to your baby, this is considered placenta insufficiency. This can cause growth restriction and development difficulties. This occurs if the placenta does not attach well to the uterus, restricting the necessary flow of oxygen and nutrients.  

Placenta complications may or may not impact your pregnancy and birth, but it is important to be aware of them and talk with your provider if you have any concerns.  

 

Things You Can Do with Your Placenta After Delivery

Once the placenta is delivered, the majority of women chose to discard it. The hospital will place it in an organ container and dispose of it for you. However, some families choose to save the placenta for other usages.  

 If you chose to discard the placenta after delivery, off it goes. You can be thankful for this incredible organ and send it on its’ way. If you want to preserve it, you will need to work with a professional to safely handle the organ.  

Placenta Encapsulation

Some people believe that the placenta remains rich in nutrients after delivery. They choose to have the placenta dried, ground, and encapsulated as a means of aiding healing after having a baby. Some believe this can be linked to decreasing rates of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. There are still very mixed opinions on using the placenta in this way. If you choose encapsulation, work with a professional who knows the safety protocol necessary.  

Planting the Organ

Another common way to thank the organ for its role in growing and delivering your baby is to plant the organ. Some people choose to plant the placenta along with a tree as a sign of life and growth. 

Another common way to thank the organ for its role in growing and delivering your baby is to plant the organ. Some people choose to plant the placenta along with a tree as a sign of life and growth.  

There is no doubt that the placenta is a fascinating and magical organ. It grows in order to nourish your baby and leaves your body once it is done with that role. Now you get to say that you not only grew a baby but an organ as well!  

About The Author

Chelsea Skaggs

Chelsea Skaggs is a postpartum advocate and coach who is committed to helping women kick the pressure to be "Pinterest Perfect" and have real, raw conversations to acknowledge and empower the postpartum experience. She provides small group coaching, eCourses, online communities and helps other women start motherhood-centered businesses. She believes that normalizing and empowering all the changes in life after baby can change the world and leads that effort at postpartumtogether.com

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