I get excited about placentas. I can't help it! They are amazing, cool, life giving and an organ. A woman's body grows a child and a placenta in 8-9 months! The placenta is what protects, nourishes, and supplies the baby. While I don't expect most people to get as excited as I do about placentas, I thought I would share some really cool facts to at least get you interested.
-The placenta is also called "tree of life" due to the fact that is literally gives life to the fetus/baby (via blood, nutrients, oxygen, etc) and because of how it looks. If you look at the picture above, the umbilical cord is the trunk of the tree and all the veins are the branches.
-Every minute about 20% of the mother's blood supply flows through the placenta. Every minute!
-The placenta grows 32 miles of capillaries (any of the fine branching blood vessels that form a network between the arterioles and venules).
-Spread out, the tissue formed to exchange oxygen and nutrients would cover 120 to 150 square feet.
-The mother's blood and the baby's blood never mix! Thanks to the placenta.
-Trophoblasts cells (from the outer layer of the embryo) create the placenta and pave the way for the placenta to gain blood supply. They are very invasive and will even "pave" themselves over the pathways of the mother in order to create a pathway for the placenta.
-The placenta plays the role of many organs while supporting the baby/fetus in the uterus, including liver, kidney, endocrine system and the respiratory system.
-The placenta has also been called the "chronicle of intrauterine life" (by scientists) because it tells a story of what has gone on in the life of the fetus/baby during development (especially if something goes wrong).
-The placenta acts as a gland - secreting numerous hormones that are essential for baby's growth, labor, and to establish breastfeeding. Some of the hormones include: estrogen (responsible for increasing blood flow and stimulating uterine growth), progesterone (helps to maintain the uterine lining), relaxin (responsible for causing the mother's joints and muscles to relax and stretch in preparation for labor/birth), and the Human Placental Lactogen (responsible for increasing mother's metabolism).
-The placenta has cells from both the Mom and the Dad (from the sperm).
-The placenta provides some immunity and infection protection for the fetus/baby.
- The placenta does not contain any nerve cells, so it cannot be under the direct control of the brain or spinal cord. The placenta develops and functions without being connected to your brain — how amazing!
-The placenta is the only disposable organ. It comes out when it has done it's job (and what a fine job it does, too!)
Grady, Denise. "The Mysterious Tree of a Newborn's Life: The Push to Understand the Placenta." The New York Times [New York]. 14 July 2014 The New York Times Web. 28 May 2016
Pyanov, Maria. "What is a Placenta? 10 Amazing Placenta Facts" BellyBelly 25 January 2015. Web. 28 May 2016.
There has been a lot of media coverage and panic over the Zika virus. Kaiser Permanente even called their pregnant mamas in California and played a prerecorded message about the Zika virus, A lot of the information was from the media and not really helpful. Where do you turn when there is so much panic about this seemingly new virus? Are you parents, friends, or family calling you and freaking out? Have you cancelled any and all trips?
I have some good news. The Zika virus has been around for 70 years and has never thought to be a public health risk. Most people who contract the Zika virus have no symptoms, or think they have a mild case of the flu. Over the decades it has infected tens of thousands of people without any cases of microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads and corresponding learning and developmental problems) being reported.
Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH puts together a great article on the Zika Virus combining all the science and facts that we know this far. In it, she explains why there is a sudden link between Zika and microcephaly.
"There was a Zika outbreak in Brazil in 2015, with between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Brazilians getting the virus (FRAMEWORK, S. R. 2016). At the same time, local health officials in northern Brazil noticed that there was a sharp increase in rates of microcephaly. Brazil usually sees about 150 cases of microcephaly each year, but in 2015 that number was above 3,000, a massive increase (FRAMEWORK, S. R. 2016). Researchers began to suspect, due to the fact that the Zika outbreak happened at the same time as the increase in microcephaly cases, that perhaps contracting Zika during pregnancy might be the cause of microcephaly in the fetus. What they don’t know, and may never know, is how many of the babies with microcephaly were exposed to Zika in utero. This may never be possible to measure, as Zika does not stay in the bloodstream for more than about 12 weeks (FRAMEWORK, S. R. 2016).
Regarding the suspected link between Zika infection and microcephaly, it is very important to know that this is a suspected link, not a proven one. In fact, experts from the World Health Organization are being very careful to say that the link between Zika virus and microcephaly is a suspected one, but has not been confirmed in any scientific study. Microcephaly has historically been known to have multiple non-Zika causes, including Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders, exposure to toxic chemicals, smoking in pregnancy, maternal malnutrition and some severe maternal infections. Further cause for caution in assuming a causative link comes from Colombia, where they have had more than 3,000 cases of Zika but no increase in microcephaly rates."
We do not know that Zika causes microcephaly. There have not been conclusive studies or evidence found that actually prove that Zika causes microcephaly. Studies are being done by the CDC. Scientists are working to discover the link, if any, between the two. As of right now, pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant should be careful, but there is no need to stay inside and cancel all travel plans.
Reasonable Steps to Avoid Zika
(from Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH)
Rebecca Wheeler goes on to say in Part 2 that she does not think it likely that the Zika Virus and microcephaly will be found to be linked. She says "there are factors about Zika that make it unlikely to be a frequent risk, and that also point to a very small likelihood of it causing microcephaly in most cases:
I hope this has helped to put your mind at ease. While pregnant women have to be careful about and avoid so many things, I do not think the Zika Virus should not be at the top of the list, especially for women in the US.
To read the full articles by Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH, visit Science & Sensibility - Part 1 and Part 2.
It is hard to know just what your new baby is saying. New babies do communicate through facial features, actions and crying. Usually, and with a little practice, you can figure out what your baby needs before your baby is crying hysterically. Below is a helpful info-graphic to help you learn the ropes of just what your baby is trying to say! :) Enjoy!
More studies are showing that women should be able to eat during labor. This makes logical sense and I'm glad to see the science is catching up (after all, you need energy for all the hard work you are doing). Check out the newest study here. Below is a list of good, & healthy snacks to bring for your labor/birth. You will want protein and energy. Coconut water, if you like it, is a great way to keep hydrated. Protein bars and applesauce are also great ideas, and honey sticks. While you are packing for yourself, you will also want to put in some easy and protein filled snacks for your partner. I hope these ideas help. Enjoy!
This is a fun list of things that usually go along with pregnancy. Feel free to comment with some of your own "you know you're pregnant when..." times.
You Know You're Pregnant When...
A great article by Cristen Pascucci:
“If you’re reading this, it’s because I care about you, and I want you to rock your birth. I believe you deserve the best. If “rocking your birth” sounds like something other people do, and you just want to “get through it” with a healthy baby--girl, raise your expectations…”
-Read the rest of the article here!
A very encouraging article by Ashlee Gad:
“You just had a baby.
I know your jeans don’t fit. It sucks. I know you tried on 17 pairs at Nordstrom Rack last week and almost cried in the dressing room. I know you went to Gap after that and tried on 14 other pairs and almost cried in thatdressing room. I know the only thing you bought that day was a pair of sweatpants and a loose white T-shirt. It’s OK.You just had a baby…”
–Read the rest of the article here!
A tear-jerker article by Jessica Dimas:
“You won’t remember the way I stood in the bathroom late that night in labor with you, fearfully and excitedly gazing up at the moon, knowing I was going to bring you into the world soon and whispering to you, “We can do this.”
You won’t remember the way you looked at me right after you were born, or the way I pulled you up next to my heart and marveled “Hi, baby” in your ear…”
-Read the rest of the article here!
A honest and touching look at being needed by Megan Morton:
“I have to stop dreaming of “one day” when things will be easier. Because the truth is, it may get easier, but it will never be better than today. Today, when I am covered in toddler snot and spit-up. Today, when I savor those chubby little arms around my neck. Today is perfect. “One day” I will get pedicures and showers alone. “One day” I will get myself back. But, today I give myself away, and I am tired and dirty and loved SO much, and I gotta go. Somebody needs me…”
-Read the rest of the article here!
An article on the “warnings” of pregnancy and having a child by Jenny Studenroth Gerson:
“They should’ve warned me that becoming a mommy would absolutely change every single thing, but that I would never want to go back and visit the “old” me, not even for a second. They should’ve warned me that my life was about to become so rich and beautiful and fulfilling, that I’d look back on what it was before and think, “Poor me. I didn’t know her yet…”
-Read the rest of the article here!
“To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.”
This is a powerful read. I see the complete truth in this article during labor and births, and even during pregnancy. I think one of the most powerful quotes of the whole article is by Wolf – “The way in which any given culture treats the vagina — whether with respect or disrespect, caringly or disparagingly — is a metaphor for how women in general in that place and time are treated.”
I think everyone should read this article and really think and ponder what she is saying. Women are complex creatures, and so are our bodies, When you negatively affect one area – you negatively impact others. There is a lot more cause and effect than we think, or admit.
Click to read the article –> The Science of Stress, Orgasm and Creativity: How the Brain and the Vagina Conspire in Consciousness
So, how do you treat the vagina? How do you see it? Do you have slang-terms you use when you refer to the vagina? How are you respecting women? How will this impact your labor and birth?
The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recently released a committee opinion on the safety of water births. (Read it here) This opinion was met with some concern from the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) who say “the document has the potential to introduce inappropriate fear about the safety of water birth for families, providers, facility administrators, insurers, and others who want to make informed decisions regarding immersion in water for labor and birth.” The AABC have collected and analyzed 3998 water births and the outcomes over the period of January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2010 and have found the following:
As with all aspects of pregnancy, labor and birth, make sure you:
Doula Rachel has put together a blog of resources, info-graphics, and articles, with an occasional self-published blog. Enjoy!