When Will Placenta Takes Over?

The development of the organ placenta during pregnancy is a marvel on its own though it usually doesn’t get much attention when looking at the miracle of birth itself. For a pregnancy to be completed successfully, a proper balance of hormones needs to be maintained. This is done by the ovaries to begin with and the placenta then takes over the job of producing the necessary hormones that would ensure that the pregnancy is completed without any complications.

The main job of the placenta is to do everything needed to keep the baby health while in the womb. Once the baby is delivered, the doctor would also take out the placenta since the organ would become of no use once the baby leaves the body.

When Does the Placenta Take Over?

Placenta is an organ that starts to grow once the baby is conceived and gets fully functional after 12 or so weeks. While it may vary but the most probably answer to when does the placenta takeover is usually the 12th week of pregnancy. Once it gets functional, it can take full control of producing the hormones that are necessary for the sustenance of pregnancy. The organ takes over responsibility of arranging for both nutrients that would help the baby’s development and the means for waste disposal.

The mother actually keeps producing progesterone early in the pregnancy in order to keep the baby healthy. Once the placenta becomes fully operational, the placenta then starts to create the required progesterone. The taking over of placenta also could come with diminishing of pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness.

Where Does the Placenta Come From? How Does It Develop?

With learning when does the placenta take over, here’s more about its development:

  • During the third week of pregnancy, the ovary’s (from which the egg was released) follicle collapses. The collapsed follicle is known as corpus luteum and it starts creating progesterone hormone. It also starts to attain nourishment for the embryo. It continues to do all this for the pregnancy’s first trimester.
  • During the fourth week of pregnancy, a collection of cells move on to the uterus and attach onto the uterus wall. A few cells from this mass collection split and attach themselves in a deeper spot in the uterine wall. While other cells start forming toes and fingers etc., the cells that had split away create an organ that consists entirely of blood vessels. This organ, known as the placenta, will take over all responsibilities of keeping the fetus viable from the corpus luteum during the pregnancy’s second trimester.
  • For twins, the number of placentas can actually vary. For fraternal twins, there is a placenta for each baby. For identical twins, it depends on the time when the fertilized egg had split. If the embryo had divided into two after placenta’s formation, both babies will be sustained by one placenta. In case the embryo had separated earlier, there will be one placenta each for the babies.
  • For the next eight weeks of pregnancy, the placenta continues to grow. The smaller capillaries that were formed at the start develop into large blood vessels. This aids the organ in providing the baby more nourishment and oxygen. When the mother is in the middle of the twelfth week of pregnancy, the placenta has developed enough to completely take over. The organ doesn’t stop growing though and continues to grow with the baby until the baby is delivered.

What Other Moms Say

I was told by my doctor that it usually takes around 9 weeks when I asked about when does the placenta take over. However, in my case, the placenta became truly function after 12 weeks. Once the placenta takes over, the symptoms you get accustomed to at the start of pregnancy start to reduce. The placenta actually reduces some of the tasks your other body parts were performing and this leads to the reduction in symptoms.

I have become pregnant through In-Vitro fertilization and my placenta had fully developed in a scan I had during the twelfth week. The placenta actually didn’t take over in my case until the 13th week though it normally does after the 12th week. My doctor told me to lower the drug after the placenta had taken over.

I went to the hospital a couple of weeks back for a scan and was worried about my loss of symptoms after the 10th week. The midwife told me that it was completely normal as the placenta must have taken over by now.

There is no doubt that placenta is a wonderful organ. Apart from protecting the baby from all sorts of toxins and infections, it also puts in place a filtering scheme through which it takes the nourishment from the mother’s increasing blood levels. The nourishment helps in growing the little fetus properly. There is no clear answer to when does the placenta take over though it is usually during the 12th week or so. This is normally the time when pregnant ladies report that their morning sickness and other symptoms have subsided. It is not necessary though that the placenta would reduce all your symptoms as some ladies suffer from pregnancy related symptoms till the end even after the placenta takes over.

Possible Issues with the Placenta

Proper functioning and growth of the placenta depends entirely on your lifestyle during pregnancy. If you would adopt a healthy lifestyle and give up on smoking and illegal drugs, it would keep your baby and the placenta both healthy. However, even after following all instructions, there is still a chance that something might go awry with the placenta either because of genetics or just because of chance.

When then answer to when does the placenta take over is clear, one should know how to keep it healthy. There are a number of factors that can have an impact on the health of the placenta. The factors include:

  • Age of the mother
  • Blood pressure
  • Earlier pregnancies and cesarean sections
  • Carrying more than one baby

Vaginal bleeding, severe back pain, fast uterine contractions before reaching your full-term are all signs of placenta related problems and you should get in touch with the doctor right away in case you experience any of these symptoms.

Doctors usually monitor the health of the placenta on their own as well and use ultrasounds to make sure that there are no issues with the size and position of the placenta. The thing about the placenta is that it can work even if it’s slightly larger in size and not in its optimum position so even if the doctor finds something problematic with the size or position, he/she would just look to monitor it more closely rather than treating as a severe problem on its own.

Research is ongoing about placenta testing and whether it can give any early indications of conditions like preeclampsia, autism or other genetic diseases. Placenta testing may become more common as the result of these researches come out. 

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