Placenta Keepers

5 min read
Placenta Keepers

When you leave the hospital after having a baby, usually all you take home with you is a gorgeous new baby, heaving boobs and some slightly sore lady parts. The only other (physical) thing that comes along with the baby is the placenta, the organ that your body creates to provide your baby with oxygen and nutrients whilst they were in the womb.  Usually this after-birth is disposed of, unless there were any complications during pregnancy or childbirth, but legally you are entitled to keep the placenta and take it home with you.

Most hospitals will allow new mothers to take their placenta home, as long as they are educated in the best way to care for it when they get home. Some hospitals are against this practise, as the after birth is technically classed as a biohazard due to it’s unsanitary nature and blood volume. Expectant mothers are advised to check with their hospital or birth centre as to whether they approve of mothers taking home the placenta.

What Can You Do With It?

Lotus Birth. One theory is that it is traumatic for the newborn baby to be severed from it’s ‘lifeline’ when the umblicial cord is cut away from the placenta. A ‘Lotus Birth” allows the baby to be kept attached to the placenta until the umbilical cord detaches from it naturally. It is thought to be a delicate and gentle transition for the newborn from womb to the world. The placenta is then honoured in a ceremony and can be planted but cannot be ingested.

Making placenta prints. Whether for your baby book or an intriguing piece of wall art, there are some pretty neat examples online of moms taking blood or paint prints from their and their baby’s placenta.

Burying the placenta. Another popular practice with new mothers is the planting of the placenta in the garden with a tree or rose bush to commemorate a babies birth. It is thought to be incredibly significant to watch a tree or plant grow along with the child.Placenta Keepers

Placentophagy is the process of eating the placenta. The placenta is incredibly nutritious and contains many of the vitamins, minerals and hormones that a mother’s body can benefit from to recover from the pregnancy and birth. Women who eat their placenta have reported that they have a faster recovery from the pregnancy and birth, have more energy and increased milk production, and often do not experience any postnatal depression or baby blues. If a placenta is to be consumed, it must be prepared quickly and specifically to decrease the risk of contamination. It will eventually be food so it needs to be treated like raw food.

There’s not much evidence to say whether the practice of  placentophagy benefits humans. A few small studies have connected placenta-eating with increased breast-milk supply and pain relief, but no studies have looked at the possible risks, if any, of ingesting human tissue and what is essentially classed as medical waste.

Placenta Encapsulation. The placenta can be consumed in a variety of ways, ranging from raw to incorporating it into a family dinner. Placenta encapsulation is the process in which the placenta is completely dried, ground and placed into empty capsules. The dehydration process preserves the placenta, allowing the mother to benefit from it for weeks instead of just the first few days postpartum. The capsules can also be frozen, extending their use from weeks and months to years. Capsules are obviously a bit more palatable than raw, or even cooked, placenta for a lot of people. Any preparation for a placenta, whether it be being stored cryogenically (in the freezer, next to the frozen peas!) or going to be encapsulated, needs to commence within the first 24 hours.

Regardless of whether you have a caesarean or natural birth, you can keep your placenta if the hospital you attend allows, however it is not a common request in Australia. You are within your rights to find another hospital if you feel strongly about keeping your placenta. It MUST be stipulated in a written birth plan and you must make your wishes very clear to the attending midwife. The only reason you may not be able to keep the placenta is if there are complications with either the pregnancy or birth; the midwife will check it for abnormalities and make sure none has been left inside. The family needs to have a sterilised, sealable 2 Litre container and an esky or cooler to take the placenta home in and it is advisable that your partner takes this home and keeps it accordingly, as it can be mistaken for medical waste and discarded if kept in a hospital room. Placenta’s can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days and then need to either be used, encapsulated or transferred to the freezer.

As an evolving practice, women can expect for the question “Would you like to keep the placenta?” to be as common and sometimes as unwelcome as the old “Would you like a mirror?”. Some religions and cultures have their own traditions regarding the placenta and the increasing prevalence of asking and allowing women to keep their placentas does demonstrate an acceptance of other religious and personal beliefs in our society. Its your body, your baby, your birth (and after-birth) and essentially your choice!




About Author

Jody Allen

Jody is the founder and essence of Stay at Home Mum. An insatiable appetite for reading from a very young age had Jody harbouring dreams of being a pu...Read Moreblished author since primary school. That deep-seeded need to write found its way to the public eye in 2011 with the launch of SAHM. Fast forward 4 years and a few thousand articles Jody has fulfilled her dream of being published in print. With the 2014 launch of Once a Month Cooking and 2015's Live Well on Less, thanks to Penguin Random House, Jody shows no signs of slowing down. The master of true native content, Jody lives and experiences first hand every word of advertorial she pens. Mum to two magnificent boys and wife to her beloved Brendan; Jody's voice is a sure fire winner when you need to talk to Mums. Read Less

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