The Anatomy Of The Uterus

The pregnant uterus is a complex organ consisting of both maternal and foetal tissues. The foetus is held within the amniotic cavity, bathed in amniotic fluid, which is produced by the foetus. Surrounding the amniotic fluid are two sets of membranes, both foetal in origin. The thinner amnion lines the amniotic cavity and beyond this is the chorion. The chorion is adjacent to the maternal tissue lining the uterus, the decidua. The foetal membranes and the decidua are largely composed of connective tissue, endothelium, epithelium and immune cells. Surrounding the decidua is the major mass of the uterus, the myometrium. The myometrium comprises mostly smooth muscle cells held together by connective tissue. During labour, the myometrium forcefully contracts to expel the foetus through the cervix. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to describe all the changes that lead up to labour, though the specific role of oxytocin will be discussed below.

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