Curious about what it takes to get your placenta fresh from your womb into the much more manageable form of capsules? Wondering how we are able to get your placenta back to you 24 hours after pickup, or sometimes less? We thought you might be!
We explain it verbally all the time to our clients but sometimes it is most helpful to learn by seeing it with your own eyes. This is a 2 part post, check out Part 2 next!
Here it is, the beautiful placenta! We take it from your place of birth to our homes in a cooler with ice to make sure that the placenta stays at a safe temperature. We aim to get you placenta started as quickly as we can to optimize the benefits of all the nutrition your placenta has to offer. This picture here to the left is the placenta with the membranes pulled back so you can see the gorgeous vessel structure. The umbilical cord is winding down below it to show off what we call the "tree of life"- cord as the trunk and roots and blood vessels as branches.
The examination. We first check the maternal side of the placenta. This is the part that is attached to the wall of the uterus. Here all the blood capillaries are formed and the first point of exchange between mother and growing baby. The nutrients and oxygen travel through this side and the vessel structure of the placenta and out the umbilical cord into the baby's body. On the maternal side you see those round lumps called cotyledons, they are the lobes of the placenta that correlate to the vessel structure.
The examination of the placenta continues with the membranes. The membranes are the sack that encompass the environment that holds the growing baby and the amniotic fluid inside the uterus. What you see to the left here is the membranes stretched out to get a little simulated peak into what that environments might have looked like. The hole that my hand is inside is the place that was broken or opened on its own to let baby through during birth. When you hear people talking about "water breaking" this is what they mean. A place in the amniotic sack gets a small hole or tear in it and the amniotic fluid rushes or leaks out.
In this picture you see how the maternal side in facing out, that is where the placenta attaches on the uterus- like we mentioned in the previous picture. If you could see all the way inside this placenta you would find the umbilical cord resting inside. I'll show you the fetal/baby's side of the placenta next...
Examination of the fetal side of the placenta. This is the side that faces baby. The umbilical cord comes from the placenta to the "belly button" on the baby. It carried nutrients and oxygen in the blood like I said earlier, but is also carries blood away from the baby and back through the placenta to return to the mother's circulation.
In this picture the membranes are wrapped and tucked underneath to get a good visual of the shape from the baby's side.
Placenta examination continues and we take a good look at the umbilical cord.
The umbilical cord is made up of 1 vein and 2 arteries, the membrane encasing the arteries and vein and a substance called Wharton's Jelly. Wharton's Jelly is a thick jelly-like clear fluid that helps protect and lubricate the space inside the cord to protect it from damage.
The membranes end at the umbilical cord, you'll notice in this picture how they look pulled up when I stretch the cord out. You can also see some dark spots on the cord; this is where blood has pooled and clotted after birth, perfectly normal. You could actually milk the cord to move those clots through and out the open end of the cord if you wanted to. Lets take a look at the open end of the umbilical cord next...
Examination of the umbilical cord. This is the part that was cut near baby to detach him/her from the placenta. You can see the 2 arteries on the top and the 1 vein on the bottom. The arteries are bulging a little bit on this cord and the vein is a little sucked into the cord.
If you look closely you can see how the consistency of the blood on my gloves looks a little watery- this is the Wharton's Jelly that has come out of the cord.
Measuring the placenta. This is the longest diameter of the placenta. Its fun and good record keeping to make note of how big the placentas are that we come across.
Generally, the size of the placenta correlates with the size of the baby. This placenta was 20cm and the baby was 7 lb 4oz.
Measuring the placenta, thickness of the width. This placenta is an average to larger size, placenta width was 2.5cm, although it is hard to tell by this picture.
Measuring the placenta is wrapped up with the final measurement of the cord length. This cord was a little on the short side at 42cm. The typical length of the cord is around 60cm, or around 24 inches.
Sometimes a shorter cord means that at delivery your baby will be born and placed on your abdomen instead of your chest until the placenta is delivered or the cord is cut.
If you are expecting soon, make sure you do your research on the benefits of delayed cord clamping!!
Now onto the second phase which is cooking and encapsulation the placenta. Follow on to Part 2!