The placenta is a new organ your body will develop during your pregnancy. It attaches to the lining of your womb, and it connects to your baby via the umbilical cord.
The placenta will grow over the course of your pregnancy, until it’s about 20cm in diameter and 2.5cm thick.
What Does the Placenta Do?
The placenta works to deliver everything your baby needs to grow and stay healthy. This includes oxygen, vitamins, glucose, and water. At the same time, it will produce the hormones that help your baby develop, and pass antibodies from your bloodstream to your baby that will protect them from infection.
When Does the Placenta Take Over?
In the early stages of your pregnancy, your baby will get all their nutrients from the yolk sac. The placenta will start developing after about four weeks of pregnancy, and the embryo absorbs the yolk sack after 10 weeks or so.
The yolk sac is membranous sac that develops inside your uterus, and it’s one of the first things doctors and nurses look for during prenatal ultrasounds to confirm your pregnancy.
The placenta takes over around 10 weeks into your pregnancy. From this point onwards, it will deliver all the essential nutrients your baby needs to continue growing.
Can You Bleed When the Placenta Takes Over?
As the placenta develops, it can cause light bleeding. In the early stages of your pregnancy, your ovaries will be responsible for producing the growth hormone progesterone. Between week five and eight, as the placenta gradually starts taking over, it will start producing these pregnancy hormones itself. And throughout this period of hormonal changes, you may experience some spotting, or light bleeding.
This bleeding may only last for three days or so, and it might be so light that you only notice it when you see spotting in your pants. Though vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is relatively common, in rare cases it can indicate a much more serious issue. So if you notice any bleeding, even if it’s just light spotting, and even if it stops, tell your doctor as soon as you can.
You should tell your doctor immediately if you notice heavy bleeding, or if the bleeding’s accompanied by stomach cramps or high temperatures.
Will I Feel Better When the Placenta Takes Over?
Many women experience some unpleasant symptoms in the early stages of their pregnancy, including nausea and tiredness. But you should start feeling better once the placenta takes over.
However, no two women are quite the same here. Some women will start feeling better around week 10, soon after the placenta’s taken over. But for other women, it may take up to 24 weeks for the nausea and tiredness to subside.
If you’re months into your pregnancy and you’re still feeling bad, talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to identify any possible underlying causes for the way you’re feeling, and they can also advise on some things you could try to alleviate your symptoms.
Further Support With Your Pregnancy
You’ll find lots of guides to help you through your pregnancy in our Real Parenting blog:
- When should you start buying baby stuff?
- What cheese can you eat when pregnant?
- How many scans will I get during pregnancy?
- When and how to start using a birthing ball.
- Tips for packing your hospital bag for labour.
- How to sleep better through your pregnancy.