Check out this photo of new daddy David Charvet loading a box labeled, "Placenta" into the trunk of his car. What do you think he’s going to do with it?
We guess that he and Brooke Burke might have a planting ceremony for their daughter Heaven Rain’s placenta! After all, a friend of Brooke’s says they chose the name because "Rain grows everything."
The placenta is an amazing, disposable organ that helps sustain your pregnancy and baby throughout the nine months of pregnancy. It grows from the time of conception to eventually take over the production of hormones needed to sustain the pregnancy at around 12 weeks gestation (from your last menstrual period). It supplies your growing baby with a means of obtaining nutrients for development as well as a method of waste disposal. This is the only disposable organ ever made.
Other cultures have come to see the placenta in a completely different light. There are even ceremonies and beliefs held about the placenta that are completely foreign to us.
Placenta planting ceremonies
One custom you do see in the US is burying the placenta in the ground to celebrate the new life given to them. This dedication of the placenta back to the earth or in honor of the child is becoming more frequent. A year later a tree or flower is then planted in the same spot to allow the placenta to nourish its growth. The reason that you would wait this year is that a placenta is so nutrient rich that it would kill anything planted before that period.
Some cultures practice a "Lotus Birth," where the baby is left attached to the placenta until the cord dries up and falls off. It’s not often practiced in the US but is gaining popularity. The theories behind this are that it helps slow the new family down and offers them more seclusion in the first few days when a getting to know you period is in order.
Generally mothers talk about placenta prints. After the birth you take a piece of paper and lay the placenta on it. If it is fresh you can let the blood and amniotic fluid leave the print or others choose to use paints to add color. Now what? Well, hang your framed art or store it for safekeeping.
Eating the placenta is known as placentophagy. It is practiced by most mammals in the animal world, including many primates. This excludes the majority of humans.
However, there are some that proport that eating the human placenta can help with ailments from postpartum depression to postpartum hemorrhage. There are some midwives and doctors who use the placenta medicinally in the early stages of postpartum because it is high in progesterone and has small amount of oxytocin. This supposedly helps stem bleeding after birth and causes the uterus to clean itself out.
There are even meal like recipes for cooking placentas, including placenta stew, placenta lasagna, power drinks with blended placenta and others. Though some mothers have been reported to eat placenta raw. For some placenta recipes, visit pregnancy.about.com. (Caveat: While eating one’s own placenta doesn’t really pose any serious health risks, with the exception of spoilage, eating someone else’s placenta can be hazardous.)
Some forms of Chinese medicines also contain parts of human placenta. In Chinese Medicine, the placenta is known as a great life force and is highly respected in terms of its medicinal value. However, in this field it is not cooked, but rather usually dried. To dry a placenta you would simply dehydrate it in the oven, then using a mortar and pestle grind it up. From there you can mix it with food or ingest it within capsules. I have actually known one mother who did this drying technique. It is my only personal experience with placentophagia.
Did you do anything with your placenta? Tell us about it!