1. The placenta acts as lungs for the baby.
When you breathe, your body provides oxygen to your organs and tissues. During pregnancy, the placenta does the same thing for the fetus. The oxygen passes through the placenta and the umbilical cord to be delivered into the baby’s bloodstream. The placenta also acts as the baby’s kidneys by filtering out waste.
2. The placenta can provide immunity to the baby long after birth.
During pregnancy, the placenta transfers antibodies from the pregnant person to the fetus that provide immune protection. These antibodies can provide three to six months of immunity for the baby after being born.
3. Both the pregnant person and baby’s blood passes through the placenta, but they don’t mix.
The pregnant person and baby exchange oxygen and nutrients through the placenta, but if their blood was to intermingle it could cause problems with the pregnancy. The pregnant person’s immune system would create antibodies to get rid of the baby’s blood and it could destroy the pregnancy. Instead, the blood passes through separate arteries. Incredibly, about 20 per cent of the pregnant person’s blood flows through the placenta every single minute.
4. Babies can send cells through the placenta that protect and heal the pregnant person’s organs.
Fetal cells can transfer to the pregnant person during pregnancy, and they seem to target sites of injury. These cells have been found in the skin, liver, kidney and bone marrow in healthy people as well as people with autoimmune diseases. They have also been found in people with diseases like hepatitis C and cervical cancer. There is evidence that the presence of these cells is increased in diseased tissues.
5. The placenta has spiritual significance in some cultures.
In different parts of the world, the placenta is seen as more than just a disposable organ. In Nepal, the placenta is considered a friend to the baby, in Malaysia it’s an elder sibling, a twin in Nigeria, and part of the baby itself in Hawaii.
Excerpt from "Placenta Facts: The 'Least Understood' Organ Is Pretty Freaking Amazing
The placenta is “the least understood human organ."
Kaylee Lambert, The Huffington Post
06/14/2016 03:38am EDT | Updated June 14, 2016