Pregnant women are incubating something that could prove hugely valuable to modern medicine and the global economy – and 99% of the time it’s being thrown away

Birth is messy. It’s often not until you’re pregnant that you learn about the third stage of labor – the bit after the baby appears, when the mother pushes out the placenta that has provided life support for the previous nine months.

In developed nations, birth is assumed to be safe. Yet in the United States, the maternal mortality rate doubled between 1990 and 2013, and infant mortality rates are rising in England and Wales, due largely to social inequality and cuts to maternity services.

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