Placental Migration

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  1. Dani Lasher, Childbirth Educator


    Alright, guys, we’re gonna check out plus central migration today. And I love this topic, and totally nerd out on it. So, um, placental migration is really the amazing manner in which your placenta sustains your pregnancy and keeps your baby safe and healthy inside of you.

    The placenta is the only organ that we grow in this magnificent manner. You might have seen in some birth groups or mom groups where women talk about having a low lying placenta, or placenta previa, where the previous words actually covering your OS, such as the opening of your cervix, low lying means it’s to send it you know, less than two centimeters away from the opening of your cervix. And that’s just a little too close for labor, um, for vaginal labor, and all the moms rush in to those posts, right? saying, hey, it’s cool, like it’s most likely going to move in time for your birth, but just true.

    For most women adjust, studies show about 98% of women see their placenta move in time for labor. But it might be helpful to some women, I think, to understand how that movement happens. Um, we often hear that, you know, oh, as your uterus stretches, like the placenta stretches with it, and it just pulls it up out of the way. That is not entirely true. So the first term I’m going to throw at you is called dynamic presentation. And what this really describes is the process where all those juicy little capillaries that are connecting your placenta to your endometrium, which is the wall of your uterus, I actually have a file on this, let me pull it up. So you can really see instead of me trying to make some ridiculous visual with my hands, right, here we go. Okay, so um, oh, and here, you see, you know, here’s previa, where the placenta right here is covering the cervix that is which this is actually your cervix. And this is partial, where it’s just kind of covering. And this is marginal, where it’s too close.

    Like I said, it needs to be more than two centimeters away, and this is normal. Now, normal might not be the best term in the world, because you could start out with a placenta down here, and not when baby is this big. But you could start out with a placenta or you can start out with a placenta like this. And you can end up with a placenta like this, it happens. The important thing that you want to understand is how that migration occurs. So when your placenta first attaches, it’s, it’s looking for a good blood supply. And it actually starts out as your chorionic Li, and that turns into your placenta. And that’s why you don’t see the placenta in early stage pregnancy scans when you get like a dating scan or something. So when you have all these little capillaries, like tiny arteries, that these blood supply that are coming between that endometrium and the placenta, and your uterus starts to stretch, imagine that you’ve got all of these little fused blood vessels, and then everything is stretching and growing, what’s going to happen to those blood vessels while we’re stretching, they start to break they start to actually erode and decompose.

    And the placenta being the magnificent organ that it is recognizes this. And it actively seeks out other places in the uterus where there’s a good blood supply to attach to. So your placenta and your endometrium, they kind of work together simultaneously, as those connections are eroding to build new connections in new spaces on the placental surface. And generally those attachments just happen to be higher up in the uterus or pulls the placenta away from the cervix. So the placenta isn’t really being stretched or pulled. It’s not taffy, it’s moving it really is migration.

    The process by which this actually occurs is called triple tropism. And I would liken it to plants if you’ve ever it’s the same process that happens in them if you’ve ever had like a plant in your windowsill and you notice how the stem has really grown toward the sunlight. That plant is going to migrate wherever it has to to keep thriving right to get sunshine into those leaves. for photosynthesis, etc, your placenta does the same thing. It’s seriously a pretty, it’s a pretty kick ass organ. When that uterus stretches the blood supply inside, that part of your uterus thins out and doles out. And that’s why those connections and attachments break down and die.

    So your placenta has the insight to say, Hey, you know, like, I see better blood supply up there, let’s grab it. And I love helping women to understand these little bits and pieces of what their body’s doing. Like you have this organ with this mind of its own really inside of you. And it wasn’t there last year, and it’s not going to be there next year. But it’s moving around, and it’s sustaining your baby and your pregnancy. And all you have to do is support it. Like this is one of those key teaching moments that I hope you take with you where we need to acknowledge that all we really need to do is get back to basics.

    And remember, we were not, we were not meant to control this experience. It happens without our intervention. And that’s a great thing, because it serves as comfort and reassurance that we really can trust our bodies to do the right thing. And we don’t have to direct them, our role is merely to support it. And the best way you can support your placenta is optimal nutrition. Um, so that migration process that happens throughout pregnancy, it’s slow, and it’s subtle.

    And that’s why if you do have a low lying placenta or previa, it takes weeks between scans to see any noticeable difference. But let’s talk about the minority, the women whose placenta does not migrate, and doesn’t move in time. This is a really tough subject. And it’s Unfortunately, it is a circumstance in which this area really is necessary. You just cannot deliver a baby vaginally with a placenta coming out first. And it’s important to understand your body was not defective. If this happens to you, it isn’t a sign that you did something wrong or that you can’t trust your body. It’s really basic biology. your cervix has such a good blood supply in these instances, that the placenta decides it doesn’t need to move. But the placenta and your and your body still did their job. It stayed with a consistent blood supply to support your pregnancy and your baby. That blood supply just wasn’t in the ideal place. And we don’t fully know why that happens. But it does. And luckily, it’s not common.

    Um, some limited data shows that the side you sleep one might correlate to the side your chorionic villi and placenta develop. And we also know that implantation of that placenta may be impacted by gravity. So we can’t really lie down for the first trimester hoping our placenta doesn’t implant low. But we we really have very little control over this. It’s something that you shouldn’t stress over trust your body to do the best with the circumstances it is given. another facet of placentas we often see women concerned about is the anterior placenta, and I’ve had one myself it’s not abnormal, it’s generally doesn’t change the outcome of pregnancy, it might make it a little harder for you to feel movements.

    I had it with my third child and while I still felt movement before 20 weeks actually never the whole pregnancy. I never felt anything above my name wasn’t that wild? So and you know, when he came out nine pounds, it’s nuts. So the anterior placenta, that gets brought up a lot because women worry it’ll be some kind of defect with the placenta or or it’ll do something to their labor.

    But studies have not shown that they break down any sooner than a posterior placenta. In fact, some data shows that anterior placenta might be beneficial because when it comes to migration, if you compare the studies on anterior and posterior placenta when they are low lying in or covering the OS, the anterior placenta actually move out of the way and tie for birth more often than posterior do.

    So if you have an anterior placenta don’t fret and if you have a low line or a marginal or previa situation on your hands, try to if you’re religious, try to give it up to God. If you’re not, you know, try to use some mindfulness try to continue to not lose faith in your body, talk to your baby, talk to your body. You know, you have control only over how you feel. You cannot change what your person is doing and their wishes. You can absolutely encourage the right environment for it to do the right thing and you can absolutely feed your body in a nourishing way that supports your placenta and your blood supply.

    And that’s all for this little tutorial. I hope that uh, that you enjoyed it and learned a little more about the placenta than you knew before.

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