HATTIE YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY HATTIE YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Healthy placenta. Gloved hands examine a healthy umbilical cord (white) and placenta. The placenta is the organ which links the blood supplies of the mother and the foetus in the uterus during pregnancy. Its main function is to provide the embryo with nourishment, eliminate wastes and exchange respiratory gases. This is possible because the maternal and foetal blood vessels are in very close proximity in the placental membranes. The placenta is attached to the foetus by the umbilical cord. The placenta also acts as a gland, secreting hormones that maintain pregnancy. The placenta is expelled soon after the birth of the baby and is known as the afterbirth.
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