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Get to know the 11 functions of the placenta for the fetus, pregnant women must know

The function of the placenta for the fetus is very important because this organ provides oxygen and nutrients, and helps remove waste products from the fetal blood. See an explanation of other functions of the organ which is popularly known as the placenta in the following review.

Get to know the 11 functions of the placenta for the fetus, pregnant women must know

Various Functions of the Placenta During Pregnancy

The placenta is an organ attached to the uterine wall. These organs are usually attached to the top, side, front, or back of the uterus. Following are some of the important functions of the placenta for the fetus, including:

1. Helps Exchange Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide

The fetal lungs do not participate in gas exchange while in the uterus, so the placenta is solely responsible for the to-and-flight transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide to the developing fetus. The placenta also prevents the possibility of the fetus inhaling the amniotic fluid.

2. Filtering Hazardous Substances

Another main function of the placenta is to provide adequate nutrition for the fetus. Before reaching the fetus, blood from the mother passes through the placenta and then into the umbilical cord. This blood contains oxygen, glucose, and a series of other nutrients.

Before blood flows to the fetus, the placenta works like a kidney to filter harmful substances while allowing good substances to pass through.

3. Protect the fetus from infection

The placenta removes waste products and carbon dioxide from the fetal blood back into the mother’s blood, it keeps the maternal and fetal blood separate. This situation helps keep some bacteria and viruses out of the uterus, so that the fetus avoids infection.

4. Producing Progesterone Hormone

Another function of the placenta is to produce the hormone progesterone. Besides functioning to maintain pregnancy and embryo development, this hormone functions to regulate the menstrual cycle by controlling the growth of uterine lining tissue (endometrium).

5. Producing Estrogen Hormones

When a woman is declared pregnant, her body will produce more estrogen. The role of this hormone during pregnancy is very important because it can support the formation of new blood vessels and help the fetus develop.

6. Releasing Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a natural hormone whose function is to make the uterus contract. This hormone is used to strengthen labor contractions. In fact, this hormone can also be used to stimulate uterine contractions in women who are at risk of miscarriage.

7. Producing Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

This hormone produced by the placenta instructs the body to continue producing progesterone to prevent menstruation. This is useful so that the fetus that has developed in the womb continues to be protected.

In general, a drastic rise in hCG levels will occur within the first 14 or 16 weeks after your last menstrual period.

8. Producing Human Placental Lactogen (hPL)

This hormone, which is also known as human chorionic somatomammotropin, has the function of preparing the nutrients the fetus needs and stimulating the mammary glands in the breasts. In addition, hPL also increases blood glucose levels so that the fetus gets extra nutrition.

9. Helps Remove Dirt

Another benefit of the placenta is cleaning waste products, such as urea, creatinine, and uric acid from the fetus (excretion). When the placenta removes metabolic waste from the fetal circulation to the mother, it protects it from possible infections.

10. Protects the Fetus from Xenobiotics

Xenobiotics are compounds found in food additives (sweeteners, dyes and preservatives), drugs and environmental pollutants. The organ that plays a very important role in the metabolism of xenobiotics is the liver. However, because the function of the fetal liver is not fully developed, it is replaced by the placenta.

11. Produce Enzymes

Placenta is capable of producing different enzymes such as diamine oxidase and oxytocinase (enzymatic). Diamine oxidase is a digestive enzyme produced in the kidney, thymus, and intestinal lining of the digestive tract.

Its main function is to break down excess histamine in the body. Histamine is a natural compound that helps regulate specific functions of the digestive, nervous and immune systems.

Meanwhile, enzymes oxytocinase regulates hypothalamic hormone levels aminopeptidase. Under the influence of the gestational enlargement of the uterine cavity, the mother’s hypothalamus produces an increased amount of hormones; which in turn induces increased synthesis oxytocinase in the placenta to prevent hormones in the blood from reaching levels that can cause uterine contractions.

NowThose are the various functions of the placenta that pregnant women must know.

Various Factors Affect Placenta Function

Here are some factors that can affect the placenta during pregnancy and make the mother vulnerable to certain risks, including:

  • Age. Women who become pregnant after the age of 35 are more likely to have placental problems.
  • Twin pregnancy. Carrying more than one fetus tends to develop a weak placenta. This can increase the risk of premature detachment of the placenta.
  • Premature rupture of membranes. If your water ruptures or leaks before delivery, you may be at risk for infection of the placenta (chorioamnionitis) and placental abruption (premature separation of the placenta from the uterus).
  • Blood clotting disorders. Blood clots due to genetic susceptibility, obesity, increasing maternal age, medical illness, to prolonged immobility. Sometimes this condition can cut off the blood supply and harm the baby.
  • Abdominal trauma. A fall or any kind of blow that causes abdominal trauma increases the risk of placental abruption.
  • Prior placental problems. If you’ve had placental problems in a previous pregnancy, you may develop them again.
  • Previous uterine surgery. Like a C-section or surgical removal of uterine fibroids, it can increase the risk of placental conditions.
  • Blood pressure. High blood pressure can affect the function of the placenta.
  • Substance abuse. If you smoke or do drugs, you may be at risk for placental disorders.

If you have had problems with the placenta during a previous pregnancy and are planning another pregnancy, consulting a doctor is necessary to reduce the risk of experiencing the same condition. Also, tell your doctor if you have had surgery on your uterus in the past.

  1. Anonymous. Pregnancy week by week. (Accessed December 11, 2020).
  2. Bisits, Andrew. The Role Of The Placenta In Pregnancy. (Accessed December 11, 2020).
  3. Griffiths, Sarah K and Jeremy P Campbell. 2015. Placental structure, function and drug transfer. (Accessed December 11, 2020).
  4. Lindberg, Sarah. 2020. What You Need to Know About the Placenta. (Accessed December 11, 2020).
  5. Malachi, Rebecca. 2020. Placenta During Pregnancy: Functions, Factors, And Related Problems. (Accessed December 11, 2020).

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