Anatomy And Physiology

Breathing for the Fetus

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"Breathing for the Fetus"
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The placenta is the organ that attaches the mother and the baby in the womb. It is essentially the unborn baby's life support system. It forms from the same cells as the embryo and attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. Understanding how the placenta organ works gives a clear picture of how the fetus receives the nutrients needed to grow and develop.

First lets examine the way the fetal heart works.

The blood come from the placenta and enters into the the chamber on the right upper side of the heart, the right atrium. Most of the blood then flows through to the left side. About one third of the blood does not immediately pass, but pools in the hear and circulates later through the pulmonary artery. It passes through the foramen ovale, an opening design for the blood to flow between the left and right side of the fetal heart.

The blood then passes into the lower chamber of the heart. From there is goes through the aorta. The aorta is the largest artery that comes from the heart. From there the blood is transferred to the head and upper extremities. After it circulates through leaving the nutrients needed for tissue growth and life sustaining fuel, the blood goes through the superior vena cava back to the heart.

Notice that the fetus does not use the lungs at for the exchange of gasses. All the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide are handled through the lungs of the mother as the blood goes back through the placenta into the mother's circulatory system. It is essential that mom has strong lungs.

So why is this information so important? One of the reasons is that it gives the mother a more clear picture of why it is important to watch what she may take in. Anything in her blood stream is going directly to the fetus, where there are no real developed filters. It is a straight shot.

A mature placenta is circular and flat. It weighs about 1 pound. Sometimes there are issues with the pregnancy because of some problems with the placenta. The common of these is called placental abruption. This is when the placenta simply peels away from the uterine wall before delivery. Mild cases where there is still some connection can be handled with bed rest

Severe cases deprive the fetus of oxygen and nutrients. It can also cause the mother to bleed out as the blood going to the placenta does not return into the circulatory system. The main symptom is vaginal bleeding and should be taken seriously.

Eat,drink, and breath healthy and so will the child.


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