What happens to your Placenta after birth?
Well, that is really up to you, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But you really want to know what the options are for your placenta after birth and why you might want to choose that option. The placenta is a pretty amazing organ and the fact it detaches and ejects itself (normally) after it has played its part, I find it simply amazing (yes, I’m a bit of a placenta geek). It is the barrier between maternal and fetal cells, it provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby and removes waste. I mean wow!
Let midwives / hospital staff take it away (clinical waste)
In most western cultures, the placenta is often viewed as nothing more than clinical waste. I asked my mum about the placentas for me and my brother, she had no idea what happened to them, which can often be the case, especially if giving birth in hospital. With home birth however the placenta is dealt with a little differently, I don’t know if this is because it is in your own home, or that you are likely to have thought a little bit more about all aspects of the birth (this is a generalisation, of course, I know some parents who have given birth in hospitals think about the placenta, just that the likelihood with homebirth is more)
Donate to transplantation or research
Your cord blood and or placenta can be donated to transplantation or research. If you are having an elective c-section you can donate your placenta and amniotic membrane. They are used for things like reconstructive surgery, eye surgery and as grafts and dressings. The requirements for cord blood donation are not so strict. You can donate cord blood if you give birth vaginally or c-section. There are some criteria so take a look at the Anthony Nolan website for the detail you can still donate if you have gone with delayed clamping (which let us be honest, we all know is the best for baby). The blood they take is rich in stem cells and these can be used to save the life of someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder.
I know it makes it sound a little full-on, but we have rituals in many important parts of our life. People often plant trees to celebrate the passing of a close family member, or the birth of a child. We have certain drinks to remember people who have passed or to celebrate a marriage. So it’s only fair that people have the choice to ritualise part of birth. Let me tell you more –
If you are looking for a beautiful way to celebrate the birthing of your little one, this could be a perfect way. Burying is meant to signify your little ones link to the earth. It may not be something you are ready for right away, so freezing your placenta is a good option, just don’t forget about it. You should choose a place on private land (normally your garden) and bury it at least 2 feet deep so that it is unlikely to be dug back up. Quite often people choose to plant a tree, plant or flower over the top of it. Different plants have different meanings, so find something that stands out to you take a look at this meaning of flowers trees and plants page to see if anything stands out to you
Lotus Birth is where the umbilical cord is not clamped or severed from your little one after birth, it is simply left until the umbilical cord naturally drops off, which is normally around 3-4 days but can take longer. It is a practice that is relatively new, having been started in the late 1970s and only really becoming popular more recently. It is in part to ensure a “settling in period” for both parent and baby, having the placenta attached means that travelling or passing your baby around to visitors is far less likely, things end up being slow and more purposeful. The placenta would either be salted and have herbs added or wrapped in an absorbent material. For more details look at this page on Lotus Birth.
Placentophagy (eating or consuming the placenta)
There are a few different ways that you can consume your placenta… I know, I know, for some of you this sounds totally gross… But honestly, give me a chance and I’ll maybe change your mind. It is believed that consuming your placenta has some big benefits from reducing post-birth bleeding, preventing baby blues and postnatal depression to boosting energy and milk supply. But how do you consume it? Well let me get my least favourite option out of the way first:
Placenta Broth – you can literally cook it and eat it, normally in a placenta broth. In some cultures, it is believed that it helps nursing mothers milk come in. Here is a recipe for you
Raw Placenta Smoothie – yes, you heard me right, but I have been told you really can’t taste the placenta. Here’s some info from Placenta Remedies Network to show you how to do it
Placenta Encapsulation – Now this was what I went for. I had read up on the possible benefits of consuming placenta but wasn’t ready for cooking it or eating it raw, so instead, I found someone to encapsulate it for me. It can be done using two methods, drying or the traditional Chinese method. Basically, you need to arrange it ahead of time, then let your placenta specialist know when you go into labour, they will come and collect it from you after you have given birth. You will just need to ensure it has been stored correctly until then. Here are a couple of places you can find more info and specialist to encapsulate your placenta for you; Placenta Remedies Network and Placenta Practice
Essences, Creams & Tinctures
Placentas can also be used to make tinctures, essences and creams which can be applied to the skin or consumed. You can pay somebody to make these for you or you can make them yourself. It is believed that they can help with emotional and psychological instability, PMS and even menopause. To find more information check out Placenta Remedies Network.
Make some art
Art can be made from any part of the placenta or umbilical cord, from prints to drying the cord in shapes (predominantly heart shapes). You can even send off parts of your placenta or cord and have them set in jewellery, take a look at these websites; Rejewelled – Memories after birth – Forever Nurtured –
Well, I hope that opened up some options for you. Such a variety of things to do with your placenta rather than just throw it away. I mean it nourished your baby for 9 months, maybe it deserves a little more respect than that??