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Placentas! Unique tree of life

Do you know what your placenta is for? Well, it's a very important organ that supports the normal growth & development of your baby. The placenta begins to form after a fertilized egg implants in your uterus around seven to 10 days after conception. Oxygen and nutrients transfer from you to your baby, carbon dioxide and other waste products transfer from your baby through the placenta and to your blood supply. It's an organ, a filter and a source for nutrients and oxygen. What an amazing thing our body creates! Your placenta also secretes hormones that are vital for your baby. 

This includes hCG, commonly known as the pregnancy hormone, estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, and prolactin. These hormones are essential for your baby’s development, and everything going on in your body during your pregnancy, birth and in preparing you for breastfeeding. Lastly, your placenta acts as a blood reservoir for your baby and continues to transfer blood & vital nutrients even after birth. This is the reason to delay cord clamping after birth until it has stopped pulsating. Although it helps to keep your baby safe and healthy, it's also important to stay healthy by eating the proper nutrients, taking vitamins and drinking lots of water too.

This way your body and this magical organ are working together to grow a healthy baby. During pregnancy, you'll typically have an ultrasound done early in the pregnancy. Some providers recommend one or some ultrasounds at different stages in pregnancy. One that is always recommended is your Anatomy ultrasound which is done between 18-22 weeks. This is a level 2 ultrasound that is looking at a few different things. The technician will be looking at every part of your baby including all of their systems, growth and if you want to find out the sex this could be a time. They are checking your amniotic fluid and are also looking at where your placenta is located. This is important to note since your placenta is essentially the life source for your baby. So they want to ensure that it's not anywhere near the cervix where it would be blocking the exit for birth. The baby must come out first NEVER should the placenta be in front. The different variations of this would be, Anterior, an anterior placenta is when the placenta attaches to the front wall of the uterus (a normal variation). Posterior, posterior placenta attaches to the back wall of the uterus(normal variation). Marginal previa, also called low-lying placenta, is when the placenta is close to the opening of the cervix but doesn't cover it (abnormal variation). It may move and get better on its own before the baby is due. This would require follow up ultrasounds to monitor the location of the placenta for the safety of the delivery. Placenta previa which is the most dangerous of all variations is when the placenta partially or totally covers the mother's cervix. Placenta previa can cause severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery.

This can also affect delivery if it doesn't move out of the way before labor. Besides where the placenta is implanted in the uterus, the cord insertion is also checked and monitored. The umbilical cord insertion (or attachment) to the placenta is a key part of the maternal oxygen & nutrients to the baby. So during pregnancy your Placenta has a big job and when you give birth you can benefit from it too. Here's how, placentophagy! Which basically means to consume one's placenta. Many people do this in many different ways. Some choose to encapsulate their placenta, take a piece and put it in a smoothie, use a piece to turn it into a tincture or cook it and eat it. This is actually considered a survival instinct amongst mammals. If you look at all mammals after giving birth, they ingest their placenta. This is for the added benefits of nutrients and energy stores. It's been said that it can help prevent the prevalence of postpartum depression, help with energy, help with milk production and has been called by some moms, "the happy pill". In our experience, it's best to start taking pills, tincture etc. at least 5 days postpartum. This is to prevent any disruption or delay in lactogenesis (your mature milk coming in). If you choose not to ingest your placenta, you can bury it. Some people plant a tree or shrub on top of it, because it fertilizes and makes a visual memory for years to come. In Islam, the placenta is burried becuase it is beleived that "from the (earth) did We Create you, and into it Shall We return you". The Xhosa people bury the placenta in the kraal as they believe it will bring more fertility to the tribe. So whatever you choose to do with your placenta after, remember that this was an important vital organ & the lifesource also known as the tree of life for your pregnancy and your baby.

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