Many times, a woman herself turns against another woman, without even knowing how precious our women species are. An example would be when a woman turns aggressive against another woman for not giving birth to a male child. Then how can we even begin to explain the importance of women to the men around us? A woman’s body is nothing short of a miracle during the time of pregnancy, Nature’s 3D (three dimensional) Printer if you will.
If we think deeply, all living beings, including humans, are nothing but the end product of nature’s 3D printing process that we humans have ascribed and defined as the process of ‘reproduction‘ that keeps life going on our wonderful planet.
However, most of us do not comprehend the beauty, precision, and intelligence of this process. More than all these, none of us even fathom the amount of change a woman’s body goes through to accommodate another life within her, and then host this life to complete a successful pregnancy process. As with most other refined processes, pregnancy also works on the ‘supply and demand’, where the growing fetus is receiving all the nutrients from the mother, and any imbalance in this leads to complications in pregnancy.
So where does it all begin?
As with all things live, we all were once just a single cell that formed out of fusion of two cells – the sperm and the ovum. We all know that, right?
But did you know that – the sperm is the smallest cell and ovum is the largest cell in humans? Not only that, the ovum is so intelligent that it attracts the best candidate out of millions of sperm cells to form the ‘zygote‘, our primitive cellular form.
Once the best sperm is identified, it fuses with the ovum, and creates a firewall where no more sperm can penetrate the ovum. I must add, all these actions happen within fraction of a second! The mother would not even realise that all of this process has happened inside her body for a few days/weeks.
The formed zygote then grows step-by-step over the period of nine to ten months in the mother’s womb to form a fully grown human baby.
The pregnancy process itself is a cross talk between mother and fetus(es) where all the required nutrients for the baby is exchanged from the mother’s blood circulation to the baby’s blood via this multi-talented organ called ‘placenta‘ that serves as the interface between the mother and her baby/babies. In fact, placenta is a fetal organ which no longer has any purpose after the baby is born, but is the most vital organ during pregnancy for the baby to survive in the mother’s womb. It acts as the lungs, kidneys and secrete few essential hormones for the baby. I would argue that nature is also harsh in its own way where a tiny problem in this temporary organ, a placental malfunction, could potentially cost a lifetime of problems for the child such as heart, neurological and other physiological problems and in worst case scenarios, even stillbirth. Metaphorically speaking, placenta can be attributed as an anchor for the child, where it gradually grows in the mother’s womb. And in the recent pandemic, it has been proven that the placenta is not just an anchor, but is also a saviour. There have been various cases reported where a COVID positive mother has delivered a non COVID positive baby, as the placenta ends up taking the damage caused by the virus on itself, and does not allow the baby to get affected! Isn’t nature wonderful?
From the outside, one would never know these numerous changes happening inside a pregnant woman’s body. For instance, at term the uterus receives about 0.75 litres of blood per minute, which in a non-pregnant state would be just 45 ml/min and this is more than 15-fold increase in the amount of blood. It is hard to believe that this small temporary fetal organ would pack tiny blood vessels with a length of about 500 kms with an area covering 12 m2 that weighs just about 500-600 grams. These numbers are from actual research data. In fact, it says that the mother’s and the fetus(es)’ blood circulation is separate, and they never mix, but rather just exchange of nutrients happen at the placenta.
Imagine two goods trains travelling, in parallel, on their respective tracks, with just the goods between the two trains getting exchanged while both the trains are still on the run! Well, this is the way we receive all the essential nutrients from our mother. All this dawned on me when I realised that I had an ‘O+ve’ blood group, while my mother had ‘A-ve’ blood. Scientifically speaking, the blood circulation of the mother and the baby is physically kept separate just by a single layer of cells through which all the nutrient transfer happens to nourish the baby.
Do you know why a mother’s love is most special and unconditional? Not only does the mother’s body undergo dramatic changes during pregnancy, some of the cell fragments from the baby remains in the mother’s body for many years even after delivery, indicating that a part of her child is living with her for most of her lifetime!
See the packaging technology of our nature! During the pregnancy phase, not only the baby, but both the baby and mother are being assembled as a ‘we‘. An assembly that happens according to the blueprint provided by our DNA possessing traits from both our parents. Very similar to the manner in which a car is being assembled in a factory.
And all this knowledge, of this amazing natural process of pregnancy, poses a critical question in my mind, ‘Will we be able to change our perspective on our body and be grateful to it?‘
Vijayalakshmi is doing her PhD in Bioengineering, working in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology. She is highly passionate about anything under the roof of science, and has been happily married to science!. She loves cycling, Nature photography and loves to write about science from a different perspective.
*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*