Nutrition in the fetus

Have you ever wonder, how your baby inside your womb feed himself. The growth of baby starts from a single cell and later the same cell forms the complete body by feeding himself with protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and many more metabolites. These entire nutrients come from the mother’s body through the placenta that’s a well-known fact but does you know placenta starts providing nutrition from the 16th day of fertilization. (Fertilization is the process in which sperm penetrates the ovum and forms zygote. The zygote is the first cell of your baby which latter by the process of cell division forms the complete body of the baby. ) what happens before that? How baby feed himself before the formation of the placenta? Well in this article you will learn about

Early nutrition of the fetus

The function of the placenta

Early nutrition of the fetus

In the body of the mother a hormone named progesterone secreted in the latter half of the each monthly sexual cycle. This hormone has an effect on the uterus. The cell line of the uterus called uterine endometrium converts into swollen cells because of this hormone. Now when this cell is swollen they develop extra space in them which is filled by extra quantities of glycogen, protein, lipids and many more minerals necessary for the development of the conceptus. (The embryo and its adjacent parts of associated membranes are called conceptus). When the conceptus (baby) implants in the uterus, the continued secretion of the hormone progesterone further enhance the surface area of the uterine endometrium cells which results in even more storage of food inside the cells. A type of cell called trophoblast cells invades this uterine endometrium followed by the digestion and imbibing the same. This is the only way of nutrition for the embryo until the formation of the placenta. The amazing fact is that the baby keeps feeding some of the nutrition by this way up to 8 weeks of their growth.

Function of placenta

The transport of the nutrient and other substance through placenta take place by the process of diffusion that is the transfer of a substance from higher density to lower density. In the starting, the placental cells are not fully developed therefore the diffusion occurs at a very low rate. Conversely, in later months of pregnancy, the permeability of placental cell increases because of thinning of the placental membrane, as well as the surface area, also expands which result in the tremendous exchange of matter between mother and fetus. The function of the placenta is listed below

  1. The major function of the placenta is to provide oxygen. You must know that the fetal haemoglobin can carry 20 to 50 per cent more oxygen than maternal haemoglobin. This is what makes the fetal blood alkaline.   
  2. Diffusion of Carbon Dioxide from fetal blood to the mother’s blood. The only way of excreting the Carbon Dioxide in the fetus is through the placenta. The pressure of CO2 in fetal blood is 2 to 3 Hg higher then mother along with the extreme solubility of CO2 in the placental membrane allows the rapid diffusion of Carbon Dioxide. The diffusion of CO2 from fetal blood to mother’s blood is 20 % higher.
  3. Transport of required nutrient through the placental membrane from mother to baby.
  4. Excretions of waste products from fetal blood to the mother’s blood. These waste products include uric acid, urea, and creatinine.
  5. Along with all these necessary antibodies also transported from mothers blood to the fetus.

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