EAT your placenta? 8 Options For Your Placenta Post Birth
Your placenta is a pretty damn amazing thing. A whole new organ that grows to support your baby through pregnancy providing the nourishment and oxygen for your baby to grow. Without the placenta there would be no baby. In itself it’s pretty WOW. But once baby arrives earthside, the placentas job is done. So what happen to your placenta, should you keep it, and if you do what can you do with it now? You may have heard of women eating their placenta, and it’s becoming more popular. But if actually eating the placenta is not for you, there are lots of other options if you don’t simply want to throw it away. So here are eight things (including eating it) you can do with this unique pregnancy organ:
1) Eat your placenta - raw
So as I mentioned there are a growing number of women are keeping their placentas post birth and consuming them, a practice known as placentophagy. There isn’t a lot of research abut this or scientific evidence that eating the placenta has health benefits, but many new mothers report feeling a boost of energy after consuming their placenta, while others feel it helps them keep an 'even keel' through the postpartum hormonal ups and downs, others say it can help preventing postpartum depression,. Some mothers feel it helps with breast milk production too. You can chop it and put into smoothies, or fry it up like liver and eat it. Here are some placenta recipes (yes really, they exist!).
There is a round up of all the scientific evidence on eating your placenta to date here that you can read too. Because as I always say on my hypnobirthing & birth preparation courses, making your own choices and have the right information to do that is SO important with everything pregnancy, birth and motherhood based.
2) Eat your placenta - Placenta Encapsulation
If you don’t fancy chopping and frying up your placenta, or whizzing it up in a smoothie you could instead get it encapsulated. Placenta encapsulation is done by a specialist and the process is inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine. The placenta is lightly steaming, before being thinly sliced, dehydrated and then ground into a fine powder. Sometimes at the steaming stage things like pepper, lemon and ginger are added to the steaming pot to aid digestion, and promote warming for the mother. The powder is then placed into capsules which the mother consumes. You can find a placenta encapsulation specialist here
There is also the option of a specialist creating a placenta tincture. A small piece of placenta is placed within grain alcohol to create a tincture. This tincture can be used when the encapsulated placenta pills are finished to offer a similar support to the mother.
3) Plant a tree on it
If you don't have the desire to swallow your placenta via pills, smoothies, or tacos, but feel it's too sacred to simply dispose of by the hospital then you could bring your placenta home (if you have a hospital or birth centre birth) and plant it in your garden. Planting the placenta has been a way to symbolize baby's link to the earth in some cultures for many years. Some modern mothers like the idea of a planting their placenta and then planting a tree too, that will grow with their baby. It can be a beautiful visual reminder of how mother and baby were once physically connected to one another.
4) Make Art - Placenta Art Prints
Similar to potato prints, creating art with your placenta can be a beautiful keepsakes of “The Tree of Life” that sustained your baby during your pregnancy. You can either do this straight away, or freeze the placenta and do it when you have the time. Some mothers even keep their placenta frozen for many years, and make the prints with their children when they are old enough.
5) Create Placenta Jewelry
Whether you go with a delicate pendant, beaded bracelet, or tiny drop earrings, having your placenta made into jewelry can make for a beautiful and ever present reminder of your pregnancy and birth. Oh and it’s also a pretty great conversation piece when someone asks you about your jewelry too.
6) Umbilical Keepsakes
Umbilical cold keepsakes are made by shaping the cord into either a spiral, heart-shape or even words of letters and then dried . If you wish you can then choose to have your keepsake set in translucent resin too. You could then frame it and out it framed on the nursery wall, or put in a scrapbook or keepsake box.
7) Photograph Your Placenta
You may keep your placenta but not particular want to’do’ anything with it but would like to photograph it before it goes on its way. It can be fascinating to simply see this unique organ that created to keep your baby alive inside you, and has provided all your baby’s nourishment and oxygen for the past 9 months. So take a photo or two, as it can also be fascinating for your child to see as they get older too and can understand it. My children were always amazed at looking at photos of me whilst pregnant, and also their umbilical cord stubs which I kept.
8) Do Nothing - let your Midwife dispose of it
As with all things pregnancy and birth, it’s absolutely your choice what you do with your placenta. It’s great to know your options (most couples I teach on my antenatal courses have never even considered the placenta, or know that you might want to see it or keep it), but you may then decide to do nothing at all and simply let your midwife dispose of it (and she’ll do this whether at the hospital, birth centre or at a homebirth). So have a think, do some more research and then discuss it with your partner too. and decide whats right for you. Your body, your baby, your choice.
Put your choice on your birth plan
Whatever you choose, out your choice on your birth plan or preferences. So everyone knows that you’d like to do. I always talk about birth preference or birth plans on my Hypnobirthing & Birth Preparation Course, and this includes what happens after the birth too (the ‘golden hour’) and what happens to your placenta. Because thinking about how you’d like your birth to be, and preparing as fully as possible, will give you a much stronger change of having the birth you’d like to have and a positive birth no matter what (but no we definitely can’t guarantee our births will go to any plan). And you can still do all these things with your placenta if you have a caesarean birth too.
After Your Birth Placenta Care - Key Points
So if this article has inspired you to keep you placenta, here’s some advice so you can safely preserve your placenta in the hours after birth before the making of the encapsulated placenta capsules, placenta smoothies, artwork or whatever you decide.
Store placenta in a refrigerator or 'on ice' in a cooler bag/box at or below 8°C (46.4°F) within 30 minutes of its birth.
Transfer properly stored placenta to a refrigerator within 12 hours after birth.
Prepare placenta into remedies or consume within 3 days after birth.
Do not dispose unused or unwanted placenta in public or personal waste disposal bins for collection. Take unused or unwanted placenta to your hospital in a plastic, leak proof bag, and ask for safe biohazard waste disposal of your placenta.
There more great information on this website about this here on the Placenta Network website https://www.placentanetwork.com/placenta-care/
And you can read more here too about one Dads experience here : https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/30/i-ate-wifes-placenta-smoothie-taco-afterbirth
As always, let me know what you think, and what you might do (or have already done) with your placenta.