The placenta is your baby’s food source, life support, and connection between yourself and baby, for around nine months. The placenta is such an incredible and beautiful part of pregnancy and birth.
You may not realize it, but after you have delivered your placenta, you actually have quite a few choices on what to do with it. You can choose to keep it and do any of the ideas listed below, or simply let your provider take care of its disposal. The important part to remember is that it is ultimately your choice.
Here are 8 unique and helpful ways you can utilize your placenta after giving birth.
Many parents choose NOT to cut the cord immediately or at all, but instead allowing it to be cared for until days later, or even sometimes until the umbilical cord naturally separates from the baby, normally three to ten days after birth. This process is meant to provide a more transitional experience as baby goes from womb to world. Plus, having a lotus birth can encourage mother and baby to have more bonding time and time to establish breastfeeding, by limiting how often baby is passed around or moved.
To help prevent infections and foul odors the placenta is washed daily with water, then a blend of herbs and Epsom salts are massaged into it. It is then placed into a waterproof bag and then into a cloth bag.
Encapsulating your placenta is the process of drying out the placenta, either in an oven or a dehydrator. Then the remains are ground up into a powder, which is put into food-safe capsules and ingested when needed during postpartum
While there are not a ton of studies on placenta encapsulation, the theory behind this ancient practice is that the placenta is full of hormones and nutrients that have rejuvenating properties, which help to restore strength and energy after pregnancy and birth, as well as possibly preventing any postpartum depression or mood disorders. Often times also aiding in an increase production of breast milk as well.
You can encapsulate your placenta yourself if you have an oven or dehydrator, a grinder and purchasing the capsules online. However, more often it’s less stressful and less time consuming to hire a professional encapsulator to pick up your placenta after birth, create the pills for you, and return them ready to use. You can find a list of local placenta encapsulators here.
The same thinking applies to this as above regarding its beneficial qualities to help in recovery after the birth. You’re simply skipping the encapsulation process and cooking it up to eat it like meat, or you can put it in a placenta smoothie. Although the concept of eating your placenta may seem extreme, gross, or weird, humans are one of the very few mammals who do not consume their placentas after birth.
If you do decide to use your placenta in smoothies, you can freeze it in small portions and add small amounts to a normal fruit smoothie whenever you feel as though you need a boost. You won’t even taste it!
Turn It Into Artwork
A placenta print can make a beautiful and sentimental picture to frame, and treasure forever. The placenta is often referred to as the “tree of life”, as it resembles a tree with branches when done. It becomes such a unique and special piece to hang in your home.
Once the placenta is washed you can paint the side of the placenta you wish to print in your chosen colors. The maternal side is the side with all the veins and lines. Then simply press it onto a piece of art paper or even a canvas.
Placenta jewelry is another unique way to keep your placenta and your pregnancy experience close to you. Honoring Motherhood is one of my favorite businesses that make breastmilk and placenta keepsakes you can wear. Their jewelry represents the sacred bond between mother and child. (Images via Honoring Motherhood)
Plant It Under A Tree
In many Asian countries, it is common to bury the placenta and plant a tree on top of it. The placenta is considered sacred and this is more of a ritualistic part of the birth process. It is also considered to connect the human who it nourished to their place of birth.
Plants and trees benefit from this rich, nutrient-infused fertilizer. Just make sure you bury it deep enough so as not to attract any local wildlife.
A great option if you don’t want to necessary keep your placenta, but also don’t want to discard it, is to donate it. One organization that can utilize placentas are local search and rescue (SAR) canine groups. These wonderful dogs need to train with human tissue and acquiring that can be quite the ordeal.
Contact Utah Search Dogs for information on how to donate.
Drying The Cord
You can also choose to save a portion of the umbilical cord and shape it into a heart, a flower, or any shape you choose to when the cord is still pliable. You then allow it to dry naturally, and have it as a keepsake!
Your placenta is truly amazing, and nourished your baby throughout your pregnancy. Why not honor it any of these unique ways?!