The Amazing Placenta
Not many people think about the placenta. What is it? What is its purpose? What happens to it after delivery? When I got pregnant I became fascinated with my body and all the changes that were happening. It was then that I discovered how amazing the placenta is! Often the placenta is viewed as medical waste and disposed of without thought. I wanted to take a few minutes and explain my LOVE for this magical organ in hopes that you will love your placenta too!
What is the Placenta and what does it do?
The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. It is the only organ that grows and develops in another organ. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby's blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus, and your baby's umbilical cord arises from it.
The placenta is your baby's life line and direct link to mother and baby. The baby and placenta grow together until birth. Once the baby has been birthed successfully, the placentas job of sustaining the baby is done. The placenta will then release from the mother's uterine wall and deliver.
History of Placenta
For thousands of years, in many different cultures around the world, the placenta is viewed as spiritual and sacred. To honor the placenta, ceremonies and or burial rituals are performed. Each culture may have a different ritual but the commonality is it is done with care and love.
Quite a different approach from just tossing it a medical waste basket.
Here are a few examples:
In Sudan the placenta is considered to be the infant’s ‘spirit double’ and can be buried in a place that represents the parents’ hopes for their child.
In Indonesia, the placenta is seen as the baby’s twin or elder sibling and is perceived as the baby’s guardian throughout life. It is the father’s responsibility to clean, wrap, and bury the placenta on the day of the birth.
In Hawaii the placenta is brought home and washed, then buried following a religious ritual with a tree is planted on it. It is believed this binds the child to his or her homeland. The “iewe” (placenta) of the newborn child is sacred and must be handled in a sacred manner in order to provide for the physical health of the child.
The Maori of New Zealand give the Placenta or Whenua as a gift to Papa Tua Nuku or Mother Earth. In Maori, the word for land and placenta are the same (whenua) and illustrates the connection between them. It is usually planted with a tree on family land.
Celebrating the Placenta
When my son Wesley was born I wanted to see my placenta once it delivered (if you have the stomach for it I highly suggest it!). This was my way of celebrating and thanking this "tree of life" which sustained my baby for 9 months. The placenta served its purpose in fostering new life and I was extremely grateful.
Some other ways to honor/celebrate the placenta:
Placenta Art - The placenta prints are made by taking the placenta after birth and placing it, along with the umbilical cord, on acid-free paper. The result is a work of art that looks something like a tree, which makes sense as the placenta is sometimes referred to as the “Tree of Life.
Placenta Consumption/Encapsulation- The placenta is dehydrated and put into capsules often time with herbs. It has been said to help reduce the "baby blues", increase milk supply and provide your body with needed nutrients
Cord Keepsakes - Some have made dream catchers, art or even jewelry
What are you going to do with your placenta? Do you have any other ways to celebrate the perfection of mother nature?