About 5 minutes after you give birth, when your partner and the nurses and anyone else who happens to be in the room are admiring your baby, your uterus will still be at work, squeezing out the placenta. After a few mild contractions, you'll deliver the placenta (also called the afterbirth, for obvious reasons).
The placenta is the organ that connects you and your baby. It develops from the outermost layer of cells on the fertilized egg. It takes oxygen and nutrients from the mother's bloodstream and supplies them to the fetus. It also removes the baby's waste products, depositing them in the mother's blood for elimination by the kidneys. The baby is connected to the placenta by the umbilical cord.
Watch for signs of placenta previa and placental abruption, two problems that can occur with this critical organ. Talk to your provider about any concerns you may have.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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