The wonders of the Placenta

Recently I was given the opportunity to take a tour of the placenta.  I’m shocked at my own interest to be honest.  When I delivered my first child I wanted nothing to do with the ‘gross’ parts of birth.  It didn’t bother me to have my baby put directly on my chest after he was born, but I didn’t need to touch him coming out, and I was mad at my midwife for grabbing my hand and putting it on his head, and when she offered to show me the placenta I told her just what I thought of that idea.  “EWW NO!”  and then focused on my new infant as my husband took a VERY active interest in the former home of our son.

Every birth since I’ve never really given the placenta my attention, it isn’t my job, my job is the mother… so when I was given the chance recently I jumped on it.  It isn’t as gross as I once thought.  I even took pictures as the midwife showed me the infants old bedroom.  Now I’ll share them with you!

This first image is of the umbilical cord.  This was taken quite awhile after the baby was born, but you can see the three vessels in this one pretty well.  they are the small red dots inside the round piece the midwife has in her hand.  all about the size of a pencil lead at this point since they have not been transporting blood to the baby in a while.

Umbilical cord
Umbilical cord

The next photo is of the baby’s ‘sac’.   This was baby’s home, the bag of waters that protected him/her during pregnancy.  It is amazingly stretchy, and when stretched out pretty transparent.  if you look you can see the midwives fingers through the stretchy material as she pulls it away from the placenta.  Also check out the umbilical cord.  it is limp and colorless at this point, but when baby was born it was blue and full of life blood.  I have an amazing picture of just how blue it is but don’t have ‘rights’ to it, however you can find plenty of examples on that if you look them up.

Amnitic sac
Amniotic sac

The next photo is of the placenta it’s self.  There are two portions of the placenta, the maternal side looks a lot like liver.  It is rough and textured, looks like raw meat, and was once fused to the inside of mama’s uterus so it is not really that smooth.

maternal side of placenta
maternal side of the placenta

This amazing organ provides everything a baby needs for development before it is ready to enter the world.  Nutrients, pass through this from mother to baby, and yet blood does not.  It is amazing that the mother’s blood and the babies are separate, but this is the only barrier between them.

Infant side of the placenta
Infant side of the placenta

This is the infant side of the placenta, as you can see the umbilical cord is connected here.  If you look closely you can see the veins that branch out from the three vessels that travel down the umbilical cord to the placenta and back up to the baby, they are amazing and if you look at the photo upside down you can imagine they form a tree… a beautiful life-giving tree.


I’m so glad that I took the opportunity to see this, to discover this organ, and to take the pictures.  I’m also thankful to the mother who graciously allowed me to take the photos and post them on my website.  Even if she remains nameless she is amazing and I’m so happy to have had the chance to do this!

Have a Cherished Birth!

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