Other Vital Functions of the Placenta
The umbilical cord, which joins the foetus to the placenta
has three blood vessels and looks like a long rope.
One of these blood vessels is called the umbilical vein.
It sends blood containing nutrient material and oxygen
from the placenta to the baby. The other two of these
vessels are called the umbilical arteries which transport
blood containing carbon dioxide and waste produced from
the nutrient material from the baby to the placenta.
Due to the strong and flexible structure of the umbilical
cord, it does not coil and cramp easily. It is very
important that there be no problem with the delivery
of blood. Moreover, the flexible structure of the cord
makes it possible for the baby to move.
different tubes pass through the umbilical cord,
which provides the connection between the baby
and the mother's body. One of these tubes carries
nutrients and oxygen to the embryo. Because
of this, although the embryo lives in an environment
filled with fluid and its lungs are filled with
this fluid, it does not drown; and although
it does not have a digestion system and cannot
eat, the embryo does not die of hunger. The
other two tubes remove the waste produced by
the embryo. It can be seen that the embryo is
created according to a perfect design.
From the point of view of its functions, the placenta
is created to act for the foetus, sometimes like a liver
and stomach, and sometimes like the intestines and kidneys.
Moreover, the placenta does not perform its functions
according to a fixed order, but keeps the changing needs
of the baby in view. For example, the food the foetus
needs in its first and second months is different from
the food it needs in its eighth and ninth months; but
the placenta makes adjustments for this and effects
a perfect balance, selecting the food that the baby
can most easily digest in each period of its development.
One of the most important functions of the placenta
is to secrete the hormones (eg. oestrogen and progesterone)
required by the foetus. Of these hormones, progesterone
has a special effect on decreasing the contractility
of the uterus in the mother's body and gives physical
support to the baby. In order for the baby's development
to continue, it makes possible the formation of the
most comfortable environment. Moreover, it allows the
development of the milk glands in the mother's breasts
and, at the right time, helps in the production of milk.
Besides this, it gives support by boosting the mother's
metabolism, thus contributing to her health and comfort.
These hormones ensure that the uterus will become a
comfortable and secure place for the embryo, and their
secretions in the proper way and in the appropriate
amount are very important for the baby to have a healthy
birth. In addition, these hormones prepare the mother's
system for the birth.
Together with all these functions, the placenta ensures
that the baby is immune to any infections that may occur
in the last three months of the pregnancy.
What we have described up to this point are only a
few of the functions undertaken by the placenta during
the development of the baby. And, in everything that
we have described here, there is an unimaginable amount
of detail. Every system depends on the functioning of
many complex chemical operations.
Moreover, every new research conducted about the development
of the foetus reveals a new function that the placenta
performs on behalf of the baby. But in all this there
is a common point. Every activity of the placenta binds
the mother and the embryo to each other in a perfectly
harmonious union. This union is of the greatest importance
because, if even one of the balances ensured in the
mother's body were to be upset, the embryo could not
The fact that an organ formed from cells is aware of
the needs of a living thing, determines what is needed
and acts with the knowledge of how to supply the need;
and the fact that this organ can produce the required
material in the correct proportion, select and appropriate
it from outside; in short, that such an organ can display
conscious activity is not something that it can do by
its own unaided efforts. For example, if a human being
were required to perform the same function, he would
not be able to do it. To understand what a foetus needs
and when to take the measures required; to choose the
appropriate material and to repel unwanted material
are things that a person without medical training cannot
do. (Even a person with medical training could not continually,
day and night, perform this duty without making a mistake.)
FROM ONE CELL
TO A LUMP OF FLESH…
continue to divide and multiply over a period
of time, forming eye cells sensitive to light,
nerve cells to perceive bitterness, sweetness,
pain, heat and cold, ear cells to sense sound
waves, cells of the digestive system to process
food, and many others.
After the embryo's first
three weeks, the multiplying cells take on
the appearance of a lump. In the Qur'an, this
development is revealed as a change from an
"alaq" (embryo) to a "lump":
Then We formed the drop into
an alaq (embryo) and formed alaq into a lump
and formed the lump into bones and clothed
the bones in flesh, thus bringing forth another
creature. Blessed be God, the Best of Creators!
(Qur'an, 23: 14)
It has only recently been
discovered in the science of embryology that
the first phase of a baby's formation ends
with this kind of development. But this scientific
fact was revealed 1400 years ago in the Qur'an,
which is perfect and without error, sent down
by God, Lord of the universe. Exalted is the
Majesty of God.
In the picture on the left,
we see a three-weeks-old foetus attached to
the wall of the uterus. This mass of cells
resembling a piece of flesh will continue
to divide and, in time, the eyes which allow
us to see, the nose which permits us to smell,
the feet with which we walk and run, and the
hands and internal organs will be formed from
these cells. This marvellous transformation
cannot come about by chance. It could not
happen by itself. It is God, the Lord of all
the worlds, Who has ordained all these flawless
transformations in the body.
But these duties that a human being cannot perform,
can be effected efficiently and flawlessly by this organ
we call the placenta. And the placenta of every one
of the millions of human beings who have lived throughout
thousands of years has demonstrated the same deep awareness
and perfect performance. Indeed, the perfect structure
of the placenta and its conscious activities are the
result of God's creating it with all of these characteristics.
To claim the opposite would be to step beyond the limits
of intelligence. With the excellent design that He has
created in the human body, God shows us His incomparable
art, and commands us in the Qur'an to consider these
He is Lord of the heavens and the earth
and everything in between them, so worship Him and persevere
in His worship. Do you know of any other worthy of His
Name? Man says, "When I am dead, will I then be again
raised to life?" Does not man recall that We created
him before when he was not anything? (Qur'an, 19: 65-67)
In the subjects to be discussed in the following pages,
there is an important point which should not be forgotten.
As we have seen in the examples given so far, all the
units of the human body which act according to a plan,
perform their various duties in due time, know at which
point to stop, do not leave their place of duty, can
work in a team, make selections to meet certain needs
and produce the requisite material at the right time,
are all cells. As we shall see in some detail later,
in the acts of these cells, which are too small to be
seen by the naked eye, there is an obvious intelligence,
and this intelligence does not belong to the cells.
Cells composed of unconscious and lifeless atoms cannot
have the capacity to think and make decisions. This
supreme consciousness and intelligence belong to God.
To keep this truth continually in mind is important;
it is the means whereby the individual may deepen his
awareness of these wondrous occurrences, and witness
God's eternal power.