Your placenta is an organ that you grow from scratch along with your baby. It attaches itself to the wall of your uterus and keeps your baby alive and growing by filtering nutrients from what you eat and drink, passing them on to baby through the umbilical cord. It also provides oxygen to baby and filters waste from their blood.
If expecting twins, you may grow 2 placentas, or they may share one.
If your baby is born vaginally, your placenta will be born shortly afterwards by your uterus tightening and releasing to move it down and out.
If baby is born abdominally by caesarean, the placenta will be lifted out just after baby is.
Here are 10 things you can do with your placenta, once it has been born:
Keep it attached to baby
This is more commonly known as a lotus birth. The cord and placenta remain attached to baby until it separates by itself, normally 3-10 days after birth. See this article by All4Births here for more information.
Look at it & take a photo
Seeing this amazing organ can be really incredible- it’s quite a mesmerising shape and texture! Some people like to take a photo to look back on it too.
Make art with it
When a placenta is placed on a piece of light coloured card, the shape it prints is like a tree. This is a simple way of creating art with your placenta.
There are many options here, smoothies, familiar food recipes and even chocolates can be on the menu!
Make pills or tinctures from it
Encapsulating has become more and more popular over the years as more people are anecdotally reporting seeing benefits from consuming their placenta, but want to do it in a way that feels less carnivorous. To do this, you need to book a specialist in advance who will provide you with a freezer box and bag to store your placenta in. You’ll need to let your care providers know you’d like it to be put into there post birth and then let the specialist know once baby and placenta have been born. They then collect it within hours of the birth and freeze dry it, make it into powder and encapsulate it ready for your daily consumption.
A placenta tincture is made by infusing dehydrated placenta in alcohol. The preparation time is approximately six weeks. Placenta tincture may be used after the capsules are finished in times of stress, anxiety and emotional lows.
Read more about placenta consumption on Evidence Based Birth here.
Plant it under a tree
Placentas are thought to be excellent fertilisers! So planting it around half a metre deep into the ground (to avoid animals digging it up!) and planting a seedling on top is a way to use your placenta as a keepsake.
Make it into skincare
The powder made from a dehydrated placenta can be mixed with a moisturiser to blend into the most personalised of skincare products. Read more on the Placenta Practice website.
Make it into jewellery
The wonderful Rejewelled make jewellery out of many things, including umbilical cords and placentas.
The Living Amniotic Membrane Donation Programme operates throughout hospitals in the UK at different times. Read more about it here and to find out if your hospital is running the programme too.
Have it disposed of by your medical team
You of course do not have to do any of the above, your placenta can be carefully disposed of by your care team if this is your preference.
As with everything pregnancy or birth related, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to what happens with your placenta. It’s important that you know you have options, it’s a part of your body after all! If you are taking a Mindful Birth course your teacher will be able to give you more local contact information for specialists and practitioners should you need it.
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