How do they grow? Answers to all your questions about your baby's support system
Soon after a baby is conceived, a support system, comprised of the placenta and umbilical cord, begins to develop. These two structures are essential for sustaining a healthy pregnancy, explains Donald Davis, an obstetrician in Medicine Hat, Alta., and past president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
What are the placenta and umbilical cord?
The placenta provides all the oxygen, water and nutrients the baby needs to grow in the uterus, and transmits fetal waste and carbon dioxide from the baby to the mother’s system for excretion. It also produces hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), the hormone considered necessary to establish a healthy pregnancy.
The placenta is attached to the fetus through the umbilical cord, the lifeline between mother and baby. It contains one vein, carrying oxygenated blood from the placenta to the baby, and two arteries, bringing deoxygenated blood from the baby to the placenta.
How do they grow?
When an egg is fertilized, it divides into two components — one becomes the embryo, which develops into the fetus, and the other becomes the placenta, which grows along the lining of the uterus. The umbilical cord develops from embryonic tissue and will grow about 60 centimetres long.