What is the placenta?
The placenta is an organ in a woman's body that is formed as a result of a pregnancy and for nine months binds the mother and fetus organisms together. To the kid, located in the mother's tummy, the placenta serves and lungs, and kidneys, and stomach, and intestines. Moreover, the placenta provides the child with the necessary nutrients and oxygen. This organ is located in the uterus. It is fixed, as a rule, along its back wall. But there are cases of attachment to the anterior wall of the uterus. By the end of the 15th week of pregnancy, the placenta is already fully formed. Visually, it looks like a flat disk of circular shape.
Basic functions of the placenta:
- gas exchange, during which oxygen from the mother's blood penetrates to the fetus, while carbon dioxide from the baby comes in the opposite direction;
- the fruit of the nutrients that it needs for timely growth and proper development;
- ensuring the immune protection of the unborn child;
- the development of hormones that are simply necessary in order to keep the pregnancy, and the fetus grew and developed. By the way, it's important to remember (and who does not know - to know) that nicotine, alcohol, drugs, medicines and viruses quite easily penetrate the placenta and can have a negative impact on the fetus.
What are the degrees of maturity of the placenta?
The maturity of the placenta is one of the main indicators of its condition. During the nine months of pregnancy, when a woman is carrying a baby, various changes occur with the placenta. In particular, its thickness and structure change. This is due to the maturation and "wear" of the placenta.
The nature of the changes, occurring with the placenta at a certain period of pregnancy, their compliance with a given period, pathological changes - all this is established with the help of ultrasound. They are determined by the method of studying the echogenic structure and density of the placenta. That is why doctors call this parameter "ultrasound".
The degree of maturity of the placenta is the structure of this organ at a certain stage of development of pregnancy.
In this connection, four main degrees of maturity of the placenta are distinguished:
- Zero. If no problems with the health of the woman occurs and the pregnancy proceeds normally, before the 30th week the placenta will be at zero degree of maturity. At this time, the placenta membrane is straight and smooth, and its structure is uniform.
- First. At this time, the chorionic membrane of the placenta is slightly wavy, and in its structure separate echogenic inclusions appear. Normally, the first degree lasts until the 34th week.
- Second. Allowed up to 37 weeks of pregnancy. At this time the placenta is already thinning in some places, begins to be covered with calcareous (salt) deposits. Nevertheless, this does not interfere with its functions. Especially if everything goes on time. At this degree of maturity of the placenta, the indentations in the membrane have already increased. But they still do not reach the basal layer. In addition, multiple linear echogenic zones are viewed.
- Third. In this degree of maturity, the placenta should normally remain from the 37th week of pregnancy and up to the time of delivery. At this time, the placenta structure becomes lobed, and the depressions reach the basal layer. Echogenic zones in the structure are large and partly fused.
What is premature aging of the placenta?
Immediately before birth, the physiological aging of the placenta occurs, which is accompanied by a decrease in the area of ??the placenta exchange surface, as well as the deposition of salts. But if the signs of a single degree of maturity are manifested in the time frame in which they should not appear, they speak of premature aging of the placenta. For example, if the verdict "second degree" is rendered by a specialist-ultrasound at the time of 32-33 weeks of pregnancy, then you need to take control of the situation. As a rule, in such situations, a woman is sent for dopplerography and begins to observe the utero-placental blood flow.
With premature aging of the placenta, doctors, in most cases, it is recommended to go to a hospital where to undergo the appropriate treatment. There will be measures to reduce the hypertension of the uterus, which will allow the child to extract nutrients more easily, as well as to improve blood circulation. To avoid intrauterine hypoxia of the fetus (oxygen starvation), future mothers are advised to breathe fresh air as much as possible. If premature aging of the placenta is observed, but the blood flow is not disturbed, the woman will be prescribed preventive treatment to improve the functions of the placenta.
Rapid aging of the placenta, among other things, indicates that during the period of pregnancy the woman repeatedly suffered various infectious diseases or has bad habits (smoking, drinking alcohol). You also need to know that, if a woman is diagnosed with such diseases as diabetes, intrauterine infection, and if the pregnancy is complicated by Rh-conflict between the mother and the fetus, then the maturity of the placenta may exceed the permissible values.
There is also a later maturation of the placenta, although such cases are much less common than premature. Sometimes this indicates a congenital malformation of the fetus.
Based on the above, we can conclude that the degree of maturity of the placenta is a very important indicator. Therefore it is very important to visit a doctor and carry out ultrasound on time in order to avoid problems with the health of the baby. Let him safely develop and be born healthy!