Honouring the Amazing Placenta

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The Amazing Placenta

I have to tell you about my newfound appreciation for the placenta. It began after I read the book Placenta: the Forgotten Chakra by Robin Lim. Did you realize that along with a baby, the sperm and egg also grow another organ?! Crazy right? I thought so too.

I feel fortunate to have birthed at a birth center with midwives and was not given a hassle when I said I wanted to take my placenta home. At the time I really didn’t feel any connection to it. I had no plans for it, but something was telling me to take it and not disposed of it. I am so glad I did because after reading this book I can honestly say I would have cried tears of regret if I didn’t have it awaiting my newly discovered plans, in my freezer.  

This book opened my eyes to the magic and symbolism of the placenta and I quickly grew a fondness for it. As long as I knew it was in my freezer, I felt a sense of calm. I carefully planned out what I wanted to do with the placenta and how to properly honor it. After all, it nurtured and supported my daughter through her growth and was her little womb buddy. It deserved to be honored properly.  

I was aware of placenta encapsulation and placenta smoothies before my birth. But I am someone who CANNOT swallow a pill to save my life. I knew if it was encapsulated, it would never get used. Raw placenta in a smoothie just wasn’t appealing to me either. I didn’t feel called to do this, maybe the next time around. 

Placenta Art

What I didn’t know much about was placenta art. Specifically something called placenta prints. It is a form of art where you take the fresh or previously frozen and thawed placenta and make prints of it with water color paper. Some people rinse it and apply food coloring (if it is going to be consumed after), or paint. Others use the blood that it is covered in for the prints.  

Ill be completely honest, this intrigued me and freaked me out all at the same time, but since I’m writing about it, yes, you guessed it, I did it. I felt like this was a great way to make a keepsake for my daughter and I, and to bring beauty from this admirable organ.  

The book also taught me about how different cultures honor the placenta by burying it with well wishes or objects they hope the child will possess talents in. This could be a guitar pick for musical abilities or a pencil for writing talents. Some cultures burry it under a tree or plant, and usually that plant will flourish. I decided this is what I would do as well. 

Hallys note
The note to our daughter we buried with her placenta.

Printing the Placenta

This is not to say I wasn’t freaked out a little at the thought of handling a human organ covered in blood. I totally was… until I finally got down to doing it. I had my gloves off within about 5 minutes. My hesitation turned into total fascination.  

These are the steps I used to make my prints:

  1. Let the placenta thaw in the fridge for three days.  
  2. I put gloves on and held the placenta under the tap and rinsed it off.
  3. Place it on a cutting board, pat it dry and wipe any blood from around it that had dripped, so it wont be on the print.
  4.  I “styled” the umbilical cord. Some prints I put it in a swirled shape, others a heart and others a wavy position.
  5. I used my fingers to “paint” blood, from the placenta container, onto the placenta and cord.  
  6. Place the water color paper gently over the placenta and cord and press lightly over the whole paper to get an even print.  
  7. Peel the paper carefully off the placenta. Some parts may stick, especially the cord. I just let them slowly fall away from the paper or pulled gently if they were not coming off.  
  8. Let the prints dry.  

I used the whole pad of water color paper. It was really fun after I got into it and over the initial “this is weird and kinda gross” part. When I ran out of paper, I took a few minutes to inspect the placenta and take a few pictures of it. I put it back in the container and into the fridge to await its planting.  

Placenta with an umbilical cord “heart”. The blood on the cutting board would be wiped away before printing.

The Placenta Tree

We picked out a tree that would grow well in our soil type – very sandy. It happened to be a type of maple tree. The arborist said it has beautiful colour in the fall.

We wrote a note to bury with the tree, just before we planted it. It was a little hurried since we forgot to do it beforehand but it still got the point across. We didn’t plant any other objects with the note.

We dug the hole and put some soil in first. Next we placed the note on top of the soil, then the placenta on top of the note. We placed the tree on top and filled in the hole with more soil and topped it with the sandy earth.

Planted placenta tree
Hally’s placenta planted.

It was a very hot summer so we tried to water our tree every day. It began to lose leaves and I was really worried about it dying. My husband said he was praying it wouldn’t die. Oddly enough we turned the tap on that night to water it…and forgot it was on for three hours! Lets just say maybe that was our answer to prayer and it needed the water. After that it began sprouting new leaves and looked great.

The spring season of 2018 was when my pregnancy was nearing it’s end. I found it magical how, along with the new leaves, I too, was growing a new life. I always thought of my little baby when I looked at the leaf buds on the tree’s. It is winter now and I’m really hoping our little placenta tree is alive and sprouts some leaves come spring time.

Did you do anything with your placenta? Will you after reading this? Let me know in the comments!

January 6, 2019
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