Among the woman who seek to be more closely tied to the birthing process, there is a growing movement of mothers saving the placenta after childbirth. Some choose to honor their afterbirth with a burial ceremony, while others will consume it after cooking or encapsulating it in pills, as it is believed to aid in milk production, hormonal balancing, and uterine restoration.
Placenta may contain beneficial properties
In the world of mammals, almost every other animal mother instinctively eats the placenta after birth. Though the debate is divided as to whether they are replenishing resources lost at birth or hiding the trail of vulnerability, it begs the question: if a mammal instinctively does something, does that make it normal and healthy? There isn’t a consensus among medical professionals, and the FDA is suspicious of the practice, but more and more moms are convinced that taking their placentas back into their bodies after birth have helped them ease postpartum pains and regulated their moods more quickly.
”The practice, known as placentophagy, is far from widespread and is received with great skepticism by more traditional medical experts,” according to a 2007 USA Today article. “But among a small but vocal contingent of expectant mothers and proponents, it is strongly believed that the organ created by the woman’s body to pass nutrients between mother and fetus and is expelled after birth is rich in chemicals that can help mitigate fluctuations in hormones believed to cause postpartum depression.”
Your doula may be able to save your placenta
There are many ways to save a placenta for future use including steaming, drying, and then grinding it into a powder to encapsulate. Additionally, a woman can use the powder in smoothies. If you’re interested in saving your placenta you should speak to a doula or midwife in your area who can help you decide what to do and make arrangements to bring it home if you’re giving birth in a hospital.
According to Stacey DiMuzio CD(DONA), certified doula in Asheville, NC, “I’ve seen women in all stages of postpartum recovery start ingesting the capsules and have the brain fog and anxiety go away, or see a boost in milk supply within days. Of course there are people who argue both sides, but my feeling is: what can it hurt? One of the things my clients are interested in is that encapsulated placenta keeps indefinitely in the freezer, so they can utilize it during weaning or menopause for hormonal fluctuations.”
A few other ways to use placenta
Besides encapsulation, there are alternate ways to honor the placenta, like “tree of life” prints where the placenta is flattened, placed on paper and an imprint is left behind. At the base of the placenta, just where the umbilical cord begins, a branching of vessels sometimes appears. This gives the print its name. Some people choose to bury it and plant a tree or bush above about a year later, to commemorate the life giving attributes of the placenta. It’s important to wait one year because the placenta is believed to be so nutritionally dense that it will kill any plant before one year.
The placenta is a miracle organ
It truly is a miraculous organ that doesn’t exist outside of pregnancy. It forms in your body with the sole purpose of growing, nourishing and shielding human life. When its job is done it expels itself and leaves your body.
The question is whether or not this is the actual end of the placenta’s life. The choice can be yours.
About Liz Alfano
I write "Dirty Words," the blog about things you should know, but might not. I'm the mother of two elementary school-aged boys and wife of one adult aged man. When not writing, I can be found reading or staring into space wishing I was either reading or writing. Sometimes I'm seen vacuuming...but not often. www.mydirtywords.comWeb | More Posts (53)