What is the placenta? What functions does it perform?

The placenta is a temporary organ that looks like a disk firmly fixed in the uterine mucosa. Through the walls of the capillaries of the placental villi, various substances exchange between the mother’s body and the fetus. From mother to fetus, nutrients, water, mineral salts, vitamins, antibodies, oxygen come. From the fetus to the mother – excess water, carbon dioxide and other end products of metabolism. The blood of the mother and the fetus never mixes.
From the 13th week of pregnancy, the placenta, in addition to performing gas exchange, trophic, excretory and protective functions, also begins to fulfill the endocrine function. Hormones secreted by the placenta ensure the normal course of pregnancy, and also prepare the body of the expectant mother for childbirth and lactation (milk production).
A few weeks after the onset of the fetal period, the placenta remains connected with the embryo only with the umbilical cord, or with the umbilical cord, which is up to 40 cm long. After the baby is born, the placenta, together with the fetal membranes (the so-called afterbirth), leaves the genital tract of the woman.

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