The placenta – food source for foetus, life support for unborn infant, connection between mother and baby, super organ extraordinaire. Yes. The placenta is all this and more.
You may not realise it, but after you have delivered your placenta, you actually have a choice what you do with it. Do you keep it and maybe plant it in your garden or make a memorable artwork from it? Do you eat it? Or do you simply let the hospital take care of its disposal? The choice yours.
Here are 10 things you can do with your placenta after giving birth.
Plant it under a tree
Let the placenta grow with your newborn by planting it. Simply plant the placenta in the ground with a tree seedling and watch it grow. The nutrients from the placenta supposedly make a great fertiliser. Elizabeth Santos gives excellent instructions and recommends burying the placenta at least half a metre deep so animals don’t dig it up.
Keep it attached to your newborn
Many new mums are now choosing NOT to cut the cord. Known as a lotus birth, the umbilical cord remains attached to bub until it naturally separates, normally three to ten days after birth.
The process is meant to provide a more transitional experience as baby goes from womb to world and is fast becoming one of the more popular things to do with your placenta (image via Kindred Birth Instagram).
Pamper your skin with it
Use your placenta as an ingredient in your very own brand of homemade skin creams. Placenta powder can mix into many different types of creams and is suggested to help heal the skin, reduce scars and stretch marks and even heal sore or cracked nipples. (image via Ace Beautys)
Turn it into artwork
The placenta is often known as the tree of life. Not only does it kind of resemble a tree, but it also provides life to your newborn. So it makes sense to use this theme after the birth and design your own piece of artwork to cherish for years to come. (Image via Back to Basics Birthing)
Enter the Tree of Life Placenta Portraits and placenta art, another trend that allows mums to honour this life-giving organ in a rather unique way. For sure, no-one else will ever have an image of your placenta hanging on their wall. (Image via Nomi Palony)
Placenta jewellery is another interesting way to keep your placenta and your pregnancy experience close to you. Companies like Beyond the Willow Tree make placenta keepsakes you can wear. Their rings, bands, pendants and beads represent the sacred bond between mother and child. (Image via Beyond the Willow Tree)
The placenta contains many nutrients (including iron and vitamin B6) and hormones that are beneficial to bub while in the womb. Many health professionals believe these nutrients remain in the placenta and consuming the placenta can be good for your health.
The most common way is through placenta encapsulation, a process in which the organ is steamed, cooked and ground into powder form. The powder placenta is then placed in a capsule which you can swallow with your morning coffee. Be aware though that a US health warning was issued recently against placenta encapsulation after a baby became sick. (Image via Womb’s Heal)
Some parents have been known to skip the encapsulation process and simply cook up the birthing organ and eat it like meat. You can serve it like steak, put it in a placenta smoothie, make icy poles out of it or substitute it for your regular meat. Placenta taco, perhaps?
What does the placenta taste like? We are so glad you asked. Although I’ve never tried a placenta dinner, those who have reckon it tastes like a combination of liver and beef. (Image via South Florida Placenta)
Make it into a teddy bear
Extra crafty mums who aren’t keen on eating their placenta may want to turn it into a comfort critter. Designer Alex Green did just that, turning her dried placenta into a teddy bear.
To make your own Placenta Bear, you will need to cut the placenta in half, rub it with sea salt, dry it and treat it with an emulsifying mixture of tannin and egg yolk to make it soft and pliable. Then it’s time to stuff and sew. It’s like a Build-a-Bear workshop. But with a placenta.
Let the hospital handle it
Many new mums don’t care a dot about the placenta after it’s on the outside. It’s done its job. Bub is here. Now be done with it. If you fall into this category and are not too keen on bringing your placenta home in an esky full of ice, then let the hospital dispose of it for you (and save the esky for celebratory drinks when you get home! (Image via Monet Nicole Photography)
Another option on our list of things to do with your placenta is to donate the afterbirth products. Although the umbilical cord and the placenta are usually disposed of once baby arrives, cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used to save lives and for medical research in the future. (Image via Ancient Paths Midwifery)
Not all hospitals offer the option to donate cord blood, but it’s worth checking to see if your maternity hospital can. You can learn more about cord blood donation at the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, Gift of Life or the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.
Want to know what other mums did?
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(Image via San Diego Birth Photographer)