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Taking Care of Your Placenta During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, your placenta and the umbilical cord are your baby's life line. A healthy placenta will ensure that your baby gets all the nutrients and oxygen your body has to deliver and that all waste products are removed efficiently. Considering that it has such important duties, your placenta needs to stay healthy, attached and functioning during your entire pregnancy.

The placenta begins to form soon after the implantation of a fertilized egg in your uterus. Until your placenta is fully developed and functioning, the corpus luteum on your ovary will produce the necessary hormones to help sustain your pregnancy.

To keep your placenta healthy, you need to first make sure that you eat a healthy diet. You need plenty of protein from lean meats, plenty of vegetables, fruit, dairy, whole grains and healthy fats. Protein is especially important for proper functioning for the placenta. In addition, you need to be properly hydrated so be sure you’re getting at least eight glasses of water each day.

If you smoke, try to stop as quickly as you can. Or, if you drink alcohol, you should stop until after your baby is born and you have stopped breastfeeding. In addition, if you use illegal drugs – especially cocaine – stop immediately, as the chemicals in these substances can cause serious harm to the placenta. Finally, if you’re addicted to opioids, talk to your health care provider – the use of Methadone during pregnancy is usually safe.

Another important way to take care of your placenta is to take only medications that have been approved by your physician as safe for you to take. Don’t take any over the counter medications or herbal medications unless your health care provider has told you that they are OK to take. Even “natural” herbal supplements can be dangerous for your placenta.

Next, when you sleep, lie on your left side, which helps improve the circulation to your uterus and placenta. You should especially avoid lying on your back after your first trimester, as this can restrict blood flow to the placenta.

You should also make sure that you don’t receive any strikes or blows to your stomach during your pregnancy, as this can sometimes cause a placental abruption – a separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. This condition can be minor or very serious and potentially fatal for your baby – possibly even for you. If you do experience any blows to your abdomen, seek medical care immediately. Your health care provider will probably want to admit you to the hospital for monitoring. The most serious risk for abdominal blows is an automobile accident. Make sure you wear your seat belt across your hips and under your belly any time you’re in a car.

Having high blood pressure can also cause problems with your placenta. Your blood pressure will be monitored regularly throughout your pregnancy and if it becomes elevated, your health care provider may recommend that you rest more frequently, avoid stress or even take medication. If you are prescribed medication for high blood pressure, be sure to take it as directed. Doing so will help to prevent injury to your placenta and your baby.

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