The placenta is a fascinating thing really. Our bodies grow an entirely new organ to oxygenate, nourish and grow our baby. It also removes waste products from baby’s blood. Is it any wonder why modern women are finding new ways to use their placentas to nurture themselves postnatally? Or to stand as symbolism and celebration of the incredible journey their mind, body and spirit have been through to welcome a new life into the world.
Here are just five ways modern Mamas are celebrating their placentas.
1. Symbolic Planting
Honourably referred to as ‘the tree of life’, it seems only fitting that a placenta would be planted into the earth in celebration of the birth of a new life. A common hot topic in a lot of Mama forums and social media groups is “what plant did you choose to place your placenta under?”. It’s a legit question.
Placenta planting is all about the symbolism – you want to get it right.
Longevity is a must. Don’t plant your baby’s placenta under something you know will die off in 3 months. Pick a plant, tree, shrub that’s suitable for your location and climate. If you don’t have a green thumb, make sure you get something hearty that requires minimal maintenance.
Location is a biggie too. Don’t own your home? Can’t commit to where you want to plant it? Sick of having it sitting in an ice-cream bucket in the deep-freezer? There’s nothing wrong with planting a placenta in a large pot that can be moved around as you please.
Some Mamas may choose their favourite flowering plant. Others choose fruiting trees.
Personally, we’ve planted a mulberry tree in a very large halved wine-barrel pot. I guess my vision there was that as my son grows, so will the tree and he’ll be able to pick fruit and stain his hands with mulberries… Such a romantic. Not surprisingly, his placenta has made the tree thrive!
Word of warning – if you have dogs, plant your baby’s placenta deep so they can’t dig it up.
The increasingly growing trend of placenta encapsulation, though once hardly heard of, now almost seems commonplace. Where once people would look dumbfounded by the thought of placenta pills, now it seems Midwives don’t even bat an eyelid.
So why has it become not only accepted, but popular?
Simple. Women want better for themselves. Mamas want options to improve their own wellbeing. Placenta pills have been used in Eastern countries for centuries. It is only recently the Western women are picking up the practice.
Evidence for the benefits of encapsulation is limited, however, there is also no evidence of harm. Anecdotally there is strong support. Mamas often turn to placenta pills, having heard of other women’s’ success stories, and wanting to find a natural approach to improving wellness of body and mind.
Benefits are said to include:
- Balancing of hormones, mood, and reduction of postpartum depression
- Replenish depleted iron levels
- Aid uterine tone
- Reduce postpartum bleeding
- Increase milk supply
- Increase energy levels
Appropriate handling of the placenta is important for safety. Keep it cool once birthed, and seek out professional placenta encapsulation services in your local area BEFORE you have your baby.
3. Placenta Printing
Placenta printing is when you use your placenta to make a print on a piece of paper as a keepsake. This is quite an easy one. to do, and doesn’t involve consumption, planting, or any long term keeping of the placenta.
Also known as a ‘tree of life print’, all you’ll need to DIY is some gloves, paper towel, paint/roller, and the paper you want to print on to.
Still not quite making sense? Think of your placenta like a big stamp, pressing on to paper to make a picture. The ‘tree of life’ name comes from not only the symbolism and functioning of the placenta, but also the image it makes. The umbilical cord forms a tree trunk, the vessels form branches, and the body of the placenta takes the form of the leaves and foliage. Some Mamas even use a long umbilical cord to write out a word like ‘Love’.
But if having a painting of your little one’s placenta on your bedroom wall isn’t for you, read on.
4. Keepsake Jewellery
Now here is a placenta option even the most conservative can get on board with. Keepsake jewellery is a HUGE trend at the moment. Not only for placentas, but for breastmilk, loved ones’ ashes, baby’s first lock of hair, and any other tiny precious items.
The best thing about keepsake jewellery is that you don’t have to tell anyone what it is if you don’t want to. Placenta is usually dried and crushed, similar to the encapsulation process, when used in jewellery. It can be mixed with golden or coloured flecks and shimmers, and can be made to look like a gemstone or a little galaxy.
Your placenta jewellery could be a bead for a charm bracelet, or made into a ring or locket. There are so many options when it comes to keepsake jewellery. Make sure you find a reputable designer, and avoid DIY kits if you want a truly precious piece of jewellery that will stand the test of time.
5. Or… Just Let The Hospital Deal With It
If none of this is for you, that’s ok too. Just let the Midwife sort it out. They will check it soon after your baby is born to make sure it is complete – you may or may not want to see it. If all is well, the Midwife will simply place your placenta in the clinical waste bin, and you don’t need to give another thought to it.
So there you have it. Who knew you could do so many things with a placenta? Some say it’s ‘crunchy’, ‘hippie’ or very ‘earth-mama’, but let’s ditch the labels and call it for what it is – women celebrating their bodies and their babies in their own symbolic way. Let’s go forward in a culture and society of inclusivity and empowerment of mothers, to respect that our choices and opinions are our own and other women have the right to theirs.