Current Placenta Practices
What We Know: The placenta is the sacred organ grown through your pregnancy to nourish your baby. It is richly infused with nutrients and hormones that gave your child life. The placenta has two sides. The maternal side is a porous membrane which during pregnancy connects to the wall of your uterus, allowing the flow of blood and nutrients between you and your baby. The baby’s side has a smooth pattern of blood vessels which resemble the branches of a tree. The umbilical cord and amniotic sac are connected to this side of the placenta.
There are traditions, rituals, practices, and trends associated with the placenta to honor this life-giving connection- tree of life prints, plantings, and postpartum supplementation. You may do any of these yourself! There is gaining popularity in having some of the preparations done professionally, especially the more time-intensive ones. There is a learning curve to some of the preparation methods, equipment needed, and it is a time when you and your partner will be adjusting to a different schedule (or lack thereof), caring for a newborn, and recovering physically. There is tremendous anecdotal support surrounding the power of the placenta; the clients we've served feel strongly that their outcomes were improved due to ingesting and/or celebrating their placentas. None have reported adverse affects.
What We Don't Know (or Claim): The exact science or evidence-based outcomes of placental ingestion. There is very little research, particularly in the United States, on this subject and it is not regulated by the FDA or a source of interest for the funding it would require to prove or disprove. There are many websites, franchises, and programs that reference placentaphology and although they are interesting, they don't hold up! Although our organization has vast, compelling, overwhelming, and current research to support the benefits of doula support, we have little to go on in terms of Placenta Preparation. Despite this, our clients have asked for it and swear by it, so we offer the service graciously and wholeheartedly!
The range of services we provide for placenta preparation are marked below with *
Plantings- Some groups believe that because of the mother-child connection of the placenta, even after birth it symbolizes an ongoing tie between child and provider. For this reason, a sacred planting is a way some families honor the placenta. Simply keep your placenta and bury it in your yard or somewhere that is meaningful to you and your partner. Place a tree or perennial on top of it, and ‘your child will always know his/her way home’.
If you have a winter baby, freeze the placenta and bury it in the spring. Dig a hole at least 18 inches to dissuade any animals from participating in your ritual! This is a great option for you to celebrate your pregnancy even if you have to have testing done to your placenta due to complications; Pathologists may put formaldehyde on it and then contain it in a plastic bag so you may still bury it.
*Tree of life prints- One way to commemorate your pregnancy and this amazing connection which has fostered the arrival of your new little being is to have a Tree of Life print made. We will prepare a print for you in your home, using non-toxic inks and gallery quality paper or canvas. This makes a unique piece of art for your nursery or living room (and unless you tell them, no one will know but you and your birth partners!). Multiple colors available.
*Postpartum supplementation- Think of all the things you fed yourself during your pregnancy with your child in mind (dark leafy greens, more milk, meats, prenatal vitamins), and all that you might abstain from (alcohol, drugs, smoking, processed foods, caffeine…..). Your placenta is a reflection of this pure, nutrient-rich time. It is the only organ in your body that you did not come into the world with when you were born. Now think of all of the hormones you have heard of or read about which your body created to make your baby come into the world, through your pregnancy and birth. Your placenta is a store-house for all of these nutrients and hormones. As a result, ingesting your placenta can be an invaluable supplement for you in your postpartum period.
As Westerners, it is a mind-hurdle to move ourselves into this kind of thinking. You may be wondering if this is like the hippies in Nor. Cal who were drinking their pee? Yes, we are suggesting there are benefits to ingesting your placenta, but no it’s not as freakish as it may sound. Chinese doctors have been prescribing this for centuries. As far back as the 10th Century B.C. there are records that ingesting the placenta is beneficial for a mother after she has given birth. All mammals eat their placentas (except for the sea-faring and camels)!
Okay, so why would we, or should we, and how would I explain this to anyone who asks?
Placental ingestion is considered for several reasons
STEP 1: Keep your placenta. STEP 2: Pick your path.
PATH 1: Fresh preparation. We will admit that even for ourselves, this caught each of us off guard the first time we heard of it. But, it’s not as scary as it sounds initially. Erase any ‘Dances with Wolves’ scene that may have come to mind. We will prepare your placenta in pea sized bits to mix into fruit smoothies for the first fourteen days postpartum. Banana, orange, mango is a suggested favorite.
PATH 2: Keep it, Freeze it, Decide Later. If you are on the fence about this- take your placenta and store it in the freezer. Area hospitals typically offer for you to see your placenta and, by request, give it to you in a nice little bucket with a lid and a handle. If you are homebirthing, any Pyrex container or plastic freezer bag will do. If you are having troubles with energy, your spirits are low, you desire more energy, or you desire increased milk production…Call us. You can always decide later, but at least you’ll have it. If you end up not using it you can plant it or dispose of it later.
PATH 3: Encapsulation. Have one of us to your home to encapsulate your placenta in gel-caps. If fresh consumption is a little too hard for your left-brain to navigate (there is no-judgment here) this is a great option. Though slightly less nutrient-rich, this is a fantastic way to give your body the nutrients and hormones of your placenta that can nourish and charge you.
List of Nutrients in the Placenta:
Oxytocin-helps relieve pain, enhances bonding, helps uterus contract to non-pregnant state, the 'love' hormone
What Mamas are saying about their experiences with our Placenta Preparation:
I feel like it was such a good choice for me.
It was a little hard to explain it to family, but I felt great following the birth!
I never had a hormone crash and always had a good amount of energy.
I still have capsules left and hope to ease the transition during menopause too.
It always seemed wrong to me to have my body create this amazing organ that was just going to be put in the trash. Keeping it with me felt