Difference Between Umbilical Cord and Placenta (With Table)

Giving birth to a baby is the hardest thing to do. A woman has to carry the baby for almost 9 months in her womb before she gives birth to the baby. The emotional and physical connection of the mother with the baby cannot be expressed in words. For guaranteeing the survival of the fetus inside the womb, the umbilical cord and placenta play a very significant role.

Umbilical Cord vs Placenta

The difference between the umbilical cord and placenta is that the umbilical cord forms a connection between the emerging fetus and the placenta, which is one of the major organs of the mother, whereas the placenta is a transient part that helps in connecting the mother and the fetus.

The umbilical cord is also popularly known as the birth cord. The umbilical cord has two ends, one end is attached to the fetus, and another one is attached to the placenta of the mother. The development of the umbilical cord takes after the 5th week of conception and develops until the 27th week of pregnancy.

The placenta is one of the most vital organs that helps in transferring minerals, nutrients, and oxygen from the mother to the fetus for its survival and growth. One of the major features of the placenta is that it produces hormones of different kinds. Placenta also removes and filters out all the waste from the mother’s blood so that it does not harm the fetus.

Comparison Table Between Umbilical Cord and Placenta

Parameters of ComparisonUmbilical CordPlacenta
ConnectionThe umbilical cord forms a connection between the emerging fetus and the placenta of the mother.The placenta is an organ that helps in attaching the fetus to the mother.
Shape and structureThe umbilical cord is a slender pipe or tube-like structure.The placenta is an organ in the mother’s body that is disc-shaped.
Main functionThe main and the most important function of the umbilical cord is to form a connection between the placenta and the fetus.The main and most important function of the placenta is to transfer nutrients from mother to fetus and transfer wastes from the fetus to the mother.
Production of hormonesThe umbilical cord does not produce any kind of hormones.Placenta produces certain kinds of hormones responsible for the growth of the fetus.
FormationThe umbilical cord is formed of maternal endometrial tissues and fetal embryonic tissues.The placenta is composed of fetal tissues.
Number of arteries and veinsThe umbilical cord constitutes two arteries and one vein.The placenta constitutes multiple arteries and veins.

What is Umbilical Cord?

The umbilical cord develops up to 20 inches. It starts developing from the 5th week of pregnancy and continues growing up to the 28th week or so. One of the major functions of the umbilical cord is to carry minerals and pure oxygenated blood from the placenta of the mother to the fetus via the abdomen.

It also helps in transferring the waste materials and deoxygenated blood from the fetus to the placenta. It is responsible for the exchange of materials between the mother and the fetus. The umbilical cord divides into two branches. One of the branches joins in the liver, whereas the other branch joins the heart with the help of smaller vena cava.

Three blood vessels arise from the umbilical cord. Two are arteries and one vein. All of these are preserved by Wharton’s jelly. One of the major functions of the umbilical cord is also to transfer nutrients like calcium, protein, and sodium from the mother to the fetus that is helpful for its growth.

The major functions of the umbilical cord are:-

  • The umbilical cord provides all the necessary nourishment to the fetus.
  • It is also helpful in the process of breathing and excretion.
  • It also helps in providing antibodies to the fetus at the last phase of pregnancy.

What is Placenta?

Placenta refers to an organ that starts developing after the whole process of implantation is completed. It helps in bringing the mother’s blood very close to the baby’s blood but does not allow them to mix. One of the major functions of the placenta is to produce all the necessary pregnancy-relevant hormones.

The major functions of the placenta are:-

  • The placenta is extremely helpful in developing a strong immunity of the mother’s body and for the baby.
  • The placenta is also helpful in transferring vital elements from mother to fetus and removing harmful elements from the fetus.
  • The hormones released by the placenta benefit both the mother and the fetus. Estrogen, Progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin are some vital hormones released.

Placenta also is of high cultural significance for many communities all over the world. Some communities bury the placenta, and others have unique ways of disposing of it. The Nepalese bury the placenta inside their house garden as they consider it as a family member.

Main Differences Between Umbilical Cord and Placenta

  1. The umbilical cord forms a connection between the fetus and the mother’s placenta, whereas the placenta forms a connection between the mother and the fetus.
  2. The umbilical cord does not produce any hormones. On the other hand, the placenta produces all the necessary pregnancy hormones.
  3. The umbilical cord is a slender tube-like structure, whereas the placenta’s shape is like a disc.
  4. The umbilical cord has 3 blood vessels attached to it. On the other hand, the placenta has numerous blood vessels attached to it.
  5. The umbilical cord does not possess any cultural significance, whereas the placenta carries various cultural importances.

Conclusion

Many people are always confused regarding how they must differentiate between the placenta and the umbilical cord. Both organs are extremely important for the survival of the fetus, and both play a significant role in its development and protection.

They are confusing because the purpose that they both serve is similar in one or another way. Both serve the purpose of being a connecting link between two given organs. Both the organs are essential in one way or the other for the health of the mother and the fetus.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00016340802468308
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002937815006675
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