Pregnancy Week by Week

Get a window on what’s happening in your pregnancy, week by week. From week four to week 42, your baby is experiencing a miraculous transformation from a clump of cells to a fully formed (and totally cute) newborn. Just imagine, as early as five weeks, your baby is already starting to form major organs (heart, stomach, liver, and kidneys) and systems (digestive, circulatory, nervous). By eight weeks, your raspberry-sized womb-mate is moving her arms and legs. At the beginning of your second trimester (week 14), your wee one is sucking his thumb. By week 28, the first week of the third trimester, baby (now as big as an eggplant) is prepping for breathing, developing his eyesight and packing on pounds in anticipation of life outside the womb. Each week is a new miracle. Less miraculous is how a mom-to-be may feel. Pregnancy Week-by-Week charts your baby’s development but also lets mom know what she might be feeling during each week of her pregnancy. Pregnancy week by Week includes everything mom needs to know to feel a sense of control over her pregnancy. Each week offers a complete guide to what you might feel, your must-do’s, your nice-to do’s, and answers and advice on everything pregnancy-related. Plus each week’s guide offers tips on maintaining a healthy and comfortable pregnancy from strategies on coping with pregnancy symptoms (morning sickness anyone?) to ideas for healthy eating, and pointers on talking to your OB. Let us guide you along your pregnancy, week by week.

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Q&A: What does the placenta do?

Where does the placenta come from? What exactly does it do?

Re: Where does the placenta come from? What exactly does it do?

The Bump Expert

Once you're officially pregnant, your future baby consists of a little ball of swiftly multiplying cells in your uterus. Some of the cells in this bundle will grow into the embryo (which will soon start forming baby-parts), and others will grow into the placenta. So essentially, the placenta comes from the same roots as your child (perhaps explaining why some cultures refer to it as baby's "twin").

And what of this placenta? Well, it's got a pretty big role -- it is the vital connection between your body and baby's. Its full functions are complex, but basically, it takes goodies like oxygen and nutrients from your blood and moves them into baby's blood to help him stay alive and grow. It also filters waste from baby's blood and dumps it into yours (to be disposed of by your blood). The placenta is also the route by which damaging substances like drugs, alcohol or nicotine could reach baby, so remember to stay away from things that could cause harm! Finger-like growths tuck into the uterine walls to connect the placenta to you, while the umbilical cord connects the placenta to baby.

When you delivery, the squishy placenta (also known as the afterbirth) will follow baby out of your belly. If you give birth in a hospital, they will generally dispose of the organ as medical waste, but if you'd like to have a look before it's trashed, just ask -- most docs will oblige. Some women choose to keep the placenta and bury it, burn it our even dry it out and take it as a supplement (it's rumored to increase youthfulness and combat postpartum depression).

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.

Erin Walters

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