I promise you, this is not something out of a horror movie… but, if you come over my house, please let me warn you before you open the freezer.
You see, it happens a lot to us ladies who have home births (sometimes hospital births too), and it’s a big question… What do you do with the placenta?
The questions comes up quite a lot in natural parenting circles. Many people (gasp) toss it in the bin, like I did with my first, in the hospital. Well, that’s not a very nice thing to do to the organ that brought a human being into the world and gave somebody a life… now is it?
With all the preparations of planning our home birth, I couldn’t decide on what I was going to do with the placenta and was planning on leaving my decision to the last minute. But, when my little munchkin decided to come a few weeks early, it turned out that I ended up not having enough time to give any extra thought to the placenta. I mean, we barely had enough time to fill up the birthing pool!
So, after the birth, we ended up leaving the cord attached to the placenta and sitting in a bowl on the bed. At first, it was all fine and dandy, but, after a few hours, the thought of co-sleeping with a newborn, with an attached cord and placenta in a bowl on the bed, combined with a bouncy toddler, whose world had just been turned upside down by the birth of sibling… It just all sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. I said, “Right… cut the cord, this is happening NOW!”
We snipped it and put the placenta in the freezer, and it’s still there today… some (ahem) 2 1/2 years later.
Ancient and indigenous people revered the placenta. They didn’t just toss it into a biohazards waste bin and send it out with the rubbish, like they do in most hospitals today.
When my older daughter was born, I remember my midwife excitedly showing me the placenta and talking about how juicy it was. I was like, whatever lady, who cares! I couldn’t have cared less about it then because I didn’t KNOW anything about placentas! But these days… well, let’s just say I spent about 20 minutes looking at a website that makes keepsake jewelry out of pieces of placentas My interest in the subject has changed a little, to say the least.
I didn’t encapsulate, didn’t feel the urge to eat it or chuck it in the blender to make a smoothie… I didn’t really know what to do with it, other than stick it in the freezer. I don’t own a house, I rent a unit, so, the idea of burying it under the backyard tree wasn’t an option either. That, my friends, is why the placenta is sitting in my freezer, undisturbed, to this day.
Actually, it did get disturbed once, when I accidentally left the freezer door slightly ajar for an entire day. I came home to find everything in my freezer had thawed and the ziplock bag, which held the placenta, had leaked. So, just a word or precaution if you should ever have to put your placenta in the freezer… use something more sturdy than a ziplock bag, otherwise, one day you might find yourself cleaning your fridge whilst inhaling reminiscent aromas of birth.
I can just imagine some people I know will be rolling their eyes reading things and thinking, “Oh come on Kate, writing about placentas! That’s gross!” But, seriously, have just a moment of respect for the organ, whose sole purpose in being created, was to bring life to this planet. And, a woman doesn’t just make one. She makes an entire body organ for each child she carries. That’s pretty freaking spectacular, if you ask me. I’m not a psychopathic serial killer, who stores body parts in his freezer… A little placenta ain’t never did anyone no harm. And, I’m not the only one with a placenta in my freezer, I 100% assure you.
Anyway, below is a list of ways I know of to deal with a placenta, other than throwing it away. Maybe I’ll take my own advice one day and finally do something with it. Until then, you can choose to stay away from my freezer, because now you know what’s inside.
- encapsulate to be consumed
- consume raw or cooked
- bury/or bury at sea type of thing
- dry the cord and make a keepsake word or shape out of it (I saw one that said LOVE, it looked awesome)
- bury in a potted plant, so that you can take it with you if you move
- have a piece of jewelry made with it (there jewelry makers who specialize in making keepsake items made with breastmilk, placenta pieces, hair and they look super cool).
Disclaimer: Placentas are considered biohazardous waste and need to be treated carefully. If you do plan to consume a placenta, make sure that you are doing it properly and are informed of the proper way to handle a placenta.