The placenta is an organ unique to pregnancy. Shortly after conception, the blastocyst (a hollow ball) differentiates it's outer cells from the small inner mass. The outer cells, or trophoblast, will become the placenta. The inner cell mass will become the embryo.
The placenta/fetal unit refers to the interaction between the mother and conceptus to develop hormonal balance. For example, the fetus contributes the precursors to some hormones, and the placenta finishes the hormone development.
The next 4-5 pages of the course will be devoted to the major hormones of the placenta and placenta/fetal unit.
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