When I was asked what I going to do with my baby’s placenta when I was pregnant with my first, I was pretty confused. I was at Solfest festival in the yurt of the Association of Radical Midwives. It was 2011 and it was around the time I became absolutely fascinated by birth.
At the time, I knew very little about birth. I wasn’t a doula or a hypnobirthing teacher. I’d never run a positive birth group. And honestly, I didn’t even know what a placenta was. I certainly didn’t know you needed to wait for it to be born after the birth of your baby. Or that the environment most conducive to the birth of your baby, i.e. dark and quiet so you are undisturbed, may also be the best environment for your placenta to be born.
“Erm, I’m not sure. What did you do with yours?” I nervously answered feeling sure that everyone in the world except for me knew exactly what a placenta was and what to do with it!
I was told that some people ingest their placentas in a variety of ways; that it’s full of nutrients and as your body loses so much at the birth of your baby, it may be a way of replenishing what it has lost.
Now, I thought that all sounded pretty weird. But I’m generally a fan of weird or at least taking a path that’s not always the most trodden so I came home and read all about why people would ingest their placentas.
First of all, I needed to know what it is! It’s the first organ that forms after conception even before your baby’s organs. It connects you and your baby in the uterus; the sac your baby grows in. It delivers oxygen, nutrients and hormones to your baby and takes away anything your baby no longer needs.
And secondly, does ingestion do us any good? No good quality research has been done on placenta eating so science can’t tell us yet. (And it’s unlikely we are ever going to know since it doesn’t make anyone lots of money.) However, there appears to be overwhelming anecdotal evidence of benefits. These include increased energy for mum, increased your milk supply, lowering of postpartum depression rates and reduced insomnia. Perhaps it’s placebo, but who knows!
Either way, I was willing to set aside any culturally obtained notions of how strange this practice might seem and give it a go. The more I read about it, the more positive stories I encountered from women who had done it, the more normal it became. We even honoured its significance in a homemade ceremony; a beautiful way to part with it I thought!
Whatever you choose to do, it is one extra thing you can make a decision on when it comes to your baby’s birth. So you may choose to discard it in the standard issue toxic waste bag or you could make use of it; a placenta pie, a stir fry, you can have it encapsulated or make yourself a smoothie.
And just like everything to do with your baby’s birth, it’s your body, your choice and your decision and I would always support you in whatever decision you choose to make.
If you would like any support or information so you can make your own decisions about your birth, a birth doula or to know more about the Birth You In Love 1:1 bespoke empowerment course available in and around Manchester and via Skype, just PM me and we can be in touch.