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Placenta!

01/11/2007 at 03:00 PM ET

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."



Robin Elise Weiss, Pregnancy Guide on About.com, tells us…

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.

Lotus Birth
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. 

Placenta art
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.

Placentophagy
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.)

Chinese medicine
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!


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Showing 57 comments

Tracy on

We have saved the placentas of our last two children (we have four all together), and have planted a tree in our yard for each with the placenta for nouishment. Our now 3 year old redhead fittingly has his own peach tree, and our all-American July-born baby has an apple tree planted in his honor. The trees grew AMAZINGLY quickly (the peach tree went from about 3 feet to 12 feet and began growng fruit in one year!), and serve as a very special reminders of their arrivals into our family! (Our friends and family, however, have vowed to never eat any homemade peach or apple products from us though!).

Tracy on

By the way, we planted our baby trees and placentas at the same time, and the trees did not die, as stated in the article. As I said, they were incredibly healthy and quick growing from the very beginning.

Autumn on

Oh your relatives don’t know what they’re missing out on by not sharing in your peaches and apples, but I guess it’s their loss.

I would imagine a placenta would be a much more organic fertilizer than the products most fruit growers probably use on the produce your relatives probably buy, but who knows if they know that…lol!

Anyway as far as all of those options, I could see planting it/using it for tree fertilizer over eating the placenta yourself. Now that sounds gross, imho…:P

Natalie S. on

I learned of the planting of the placenta through some friends of ours and we did it with my last pregnancy and planted a palm tree. I’m glad to hear other people are familiar with it, not many are especially when I’ve told and tried to explain it to friends and loved ones, we got a lot of strange looks..lol so again glad to hear/know that others are aware of this.

sdurdin on

we planted my placenta under a maganolia tree. my husband did it for our 5 year anniversary. i think he was tired of seeing it in the freezer lol.

yogadaisy on

First of all, Danielle, you rock for including this placenta post and all the info! It is posts like this that keep me coming back to this blog :-)

Second, we planted my 3rd child’s placenta in our backyard when she turned one. It was a really cool ceremony and my 5 and 3 year olds helped dig the dirt. The placenta is indeed an amazing organ.

Sabina on

All the practices outlined in that post sound- sorry to be frank, but- totally gross to me. Maybe I’ll feel differently after having a child of my own one day but honestly I highly doubt it. As far as I’m concerned I’ll have my baby, I won’t need any trees or cannibalistic lasagne!

georgia's mom on

We planted ours then transplanted a tree over it. It has been in the freezer for like 2 years!

Stephany on

Sabina, I’m with you. I don’t think I’d ever do anything this article stated. Of course, I’m only 19 and I haven’t had any children yet. Maybe my mind will change when I do, but for now, it just sounds weird!

Heavenly_hibiscus on

A dutch relative of mine (an in-law) brought her babys placenta home in an ice-cream container and kept it in the freezer. When the time was right she cooked in up in the frying pan with some onions and ate it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Luckily I was not around to watch. According to her it’s what they do in Holland.

Leslie on

Sabina, LOL! I’m with you and Stephany. To each his own I guess. I just don’t feel the need to save my un-needed body parts. Although after my oopherectomy, I said I was going to bronze my ovary and hang it on the wall – but I was joking!

ali on

Are you serious?

That PLACENTA has clealy been written over the photo. It looks SO fake.

Kristen on

I am Native American from British Columbia, Canada. Traditionally we bury the baby’s placenta near our home so the child, no matter where he or she goes, will always have a connection to home, and will never be lost.

sara on

I’ve never been pregnant…so I never knew you could take your placenta home! I thought the hospital takes it to the labs to run genetic tests? I’m not trying to sound un-motherly like, but I’m kind of grossed out! What does a human placenta look like? Doesn’t start to rot and turn to sludge?

Jean on

sara, if you don’t go to a hospital you’re free to do with your placenta what you choose, easily. We buried our second son’s close to the house the day after the (home) birth. Some friends of mine who have birthed in a hospital have run into prohibitions about taking it, and one was even “forced” into leaving it and having it preserved with formaldyhide!!!! There goes the tree planting idea for that one.

I do know two mothers who have severe postpartum hemmorage issues. They both have eaten a bite to a few bites of placenta and it’s helped them.

corinne on

I have never heard of people keeping the placenta.I’m in Australia and we can donate them for research,I have many friends and family who have had babies and have never heard any of them wanting to take the placenta home. the placenta is just waste that the hospital gets rid off.I don’t think we would be allowed to take it home.If i am wrong please let me know.

Amy on

As I read these posts, I keep imagining my dog going into the backyard and digging the placenta up next to the tree! Interesting article, it’s neat to read different rituals that people have. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m thinking my placenta will be staying at the hospital!

purplelisa on

It’s funny how how all posts saying that they would never do it or are grossed out by it are from people who have never had babies. I can tell you, I felt the same way – before I had a child of my own. It’s so funny how having a child really does change you in some ways. I feel as if I belong to some secret club that I wasn’t even aware existed before I got pregnant! All I can say is, it’s amazing how your feelings about certain things change after having a child of your own! I haven’t tried taken my placenta home, but Kaiser Permanante Hospital told me that I could if I wanted to. When I have a 3rd child, I am seriously thinking of taking it and planting a tree. It’s a wonderful idea.

sharon on

One word: GROSS!!!!!

PSB on

I didn’t even see the placenta after I had my baby (via c-section), but I have to say I had NO desire. I can definitely see the merits of planting it under a tree, though I don’t think I’d ever do it myself. Eating the placenta is just way too gross to me. The craziest thing I did was taste my own breastmilk, and that was not a huge blob of blood and membrane. To each her own, I guess.

L Rotha on

Planting the placenta? Sorry, not here…. its bodily waste, thats why the body expels it just like sweat, or pee !

laura on

Six years later, my second child’s placenta is still sitting in the freezer, waiting to be planted.
It’s a good party trick though. “Hey! Wanna see the placenta?” ;)

sandy on

I know it is customary in some cultures, but in my own regards I find the concept of eating it to be cannibalistic.
after I had my twins the nurse asked if i wanted to keep it, it was a quick “no”
I just never understood the desire to save things like the umbilical cord, nail clippings, placenta or the used pregnancy test.

Kresta on

My first son was born 25 years ago In New Zealand and we buried his placenta in our garden and at the same time planted a mandarin tree there. With our second son, we did the same thing and our eldest son helped us. When our daughter was born, we moved house 2 weeks later and had to wait months until our new home was built, so her placenta went into the freezer, much to my brother’s disgust. Her name is Laurel, so at our new home we planted a laurel tree.

amelie on

I’m in Australia and most of my friends have planted their placentas – a few of us used it in other ways. I’m not sure where the previous Australian person was from, but where I live it’s fairly common to take the placenta home from hospital with you (if you have a hospital birth rather than a home birth).

Did you know you can dry the placenta (in a food dehydrator) so it’s like jerky, then grind it and put it in capsules? It takes the ‘ick’ factor away from eating it, but it doesn’t destroy it by heating it. Taking a few of the capsules each day is much more effective than anti depressants at combatting post natal depression.

ekaterina on

I too have mine out front burried under a camila that my mum have me for my 35 bitrthday

I was tired of worrying about my husband taking it out of the freezer thinking it was dinner! :O

That was one of the things that the midwife suggested that we do: plant a tree that is not have it for dinner!

She also said that if we wanted to throw it out we needed to do it when it was frozen becasue you cant just throw it out in the garbage ( apprarently you cant do that with organs WHO KNEW?????) see what you learn when you have a home birth? LOL

I was worried sick that an animal would dig it up and drag it allover the yard- but alomst a year and so far so good!

PS Kirsten I am from BC too!! HI neighbour!

Ilona on

Purplelisa, I agree – until you’ve had a baby it’s hard to imagine what you will do. Heck, I thought I’d be too embarrassed to walk around naked all day while I was in labour but that’s what I did!

While I was pregnant another mum said she cut off small pieces of hers, small pellet sized to be frozen and that you can swallow them like tablets for postpartum depression.

NEVER in a million years did I think I would do it but as they were tiny frozen pieces I could wash it down with water like a tablet and it really was the best thing ever for those teary emotional days.

And corinne, I’m in Australia too but I know many hospitals would let you take it home. I think it’s a mindset thing, if you’re not interested you probably wouldn’t think to ask and find out.

Sabina on

I’d be more inclined to have it stored at the hospital incase my child ever needed stem cells for surgery.

Tierchen on

I don’t have a baby yet, but if I do my boyfriend and I want to ‘adopt’ a new tree in our city and would bury the placenta underneath!

Michelle on

Eww. I remember seeing the placenta when my son was born in 2001 and it looked like liver. It’s an idea I’m not comfortable with, eating parts of your own body. Seems like cannibalism to me.

Tracy on

I think it’s funny how so many are grossed out by this idea! Granted, I’m TOTALLY with you on the practice of EATING the placenta being barbaric. However, I see nothing wrong with burying it to nourish a tree, as we have done twice as stated before.
We never had any problem with getting the placenta home from the hospital. I’ve delivered via c-section only, and my OB has been happy to oblige with no problem … having the staff package it for us to take home to freeze until we are ready to plant. I “grew” it, why wouldn’t they release it to me if I wanted it?! Don’t people keep kidney stones as souvenirs or “badges of bravery”? lol

Heather on

I had my son 2.5 yrs ago at home. The placenta was in our freezer until my parents came to visit and then they took it home w/ them(to another state). We wanted to plant a tree over it where we knew no one would leave the house from.
So, needless to say, it’s still in my parent’s freezer and they keep saying they have to do whatever landscaping they want to do before we can plant a tree.

Glad to see many other people have done the tree planting. I cannot tell you how many folks give that wonky-eyed look when I tell them about it.

sara on

Excuse me. Did you just say EAT your placenta!?? How in God’s name does someone get the courage to do that!

preesi on

Its always fascinating that it appears to be the Americans that are the ones going “Oh Gross!” at things.
I guess if you dont have to see the cow get slaughtered its not really a dead cow its just a hamburger. Or the fluffy scrambled eggs on your plate arent really chicken mucous.
But God forbid you eat something (or plant it) that actually came from YOU!
Get out and READ, EXPLORE, LEARN!!!
Get out of the little American sheltered Box you live in and get some culture…
Maybe if people read and learned about all different kinds of things and ways of life our country wouldnt be in the FUBAR state it is today…

JMHO!

Soosie on

I’m from the Netherlands (Holland) and just to let you all know: it is not a dutch tradition to eat your placenta with onions!!! I don’t know where that relative comes from, but she definitely does not understand our culture!!!
It is however very common here, to let the placenta be buried by the grandparents as passing on they’re own life to the next generation.

Jen on

When I had my children (ages 7 and 9) we didn’t save the placenta. It wasn’t allowed at our hospital. I guess rules have changed because now the new parents can do whatever they want to with it. My sister gave birth in October ’06 and the nurse told her that some couples had been saving their placentas to plant. They even had one couple save the placenta so the family dog could eat it because they believed it would make their family completely whole and joined together. They have also had families save the placenta to eat. To each his own I guess!

Shay on

My daughter was born last Nov 29th in Alaska. The ground was (still is) frozen and covered in snow. So her placenta is waiting in my mom’s freezer (clearly labelled!) until spring when we’ll bury it. I’m planning on planting a nice raspberry bush on it.
I’m not grossed out by it at all. It’s not bodily waste like pee or sweat. It’s an amazing organ that nourished and sustained a growing baby.

Mom2_2 on

I donated my child’s cord blood, and therefore they took the placenta as part of the process. I don’t find these placenta rituals gross, but I think donating the cord blood does more for today’s society.

Angie on

Eating a placenta? That sounds disgusting and cannibalistic to me. That’s part of the human body. Bleck! i’d rather use it to plant a tree or stem cell research, not to eat. I’ve heard of people sauteeing it and making placenta pate’ to eat for baby shower guests. Not for me!

Samantha on

I have had 3 kids, and all three times I was totally grossed out, it kinda looks like a big brain, and I had absolutely no desire to bring it home with me for planting reasons or otherwise :)

MetroDad on

I ate the placenta with some fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti.

Desarai on

I’m sorry but this photo (the word written on the box, to be specific), especially in the close-up, looks 100% Photoshopped. The letters are pixelated with a weird whiteish border around them. I think this photo is someone’s idea of a joke.

From Danielle, CBB Publisher: I know it looks weird, but “placenta” has not been photoshopped. I can tell you this with some certainty.

Ali on

We are having a home birth and I will be drying my placenta into powder and putting it into capsules. It has many benefits and is not in the least bit gross to me. I think it speaks volumes about humans that we are one of the only species of mammals who do not routinely consume our placentas. Other animals do it out of pure instinct, so obviously it is done for a reason.

Aimee on

I may not know what I am talking about, but don’t all mammals eat the placenta for hemorrhaging? It sounds gross to me in theory, but if I could get someone to dehydrate it and put it in capsules for me, I would rather do that than have heavy bleeding or PPD. I have not had children yet, but I will definitely take my placenta with me, even if I just bury it. it grosses me out more for my birth center or hospital to take MY child’s life support.

Danielle, CBB Publisher on

I didn’t get to see MY placenta but have seen photos of others. It’s not a pretty sight and that is probably why I could never bring myself to consume it in any form. However, I might consider planting it if we ever live somewhere that planting my own body parts underground wouldn’t get me a serious fine (that is, when we move from the city to a house with a yard).

Christi on

I live in New Zealand and it seems pretty common practice to take the placenta. It’s a Maori tradition to take it. I’m not Maori but American and I didn’t do this with my first baby. I too thought ‘gross’. With age and a harder birth, I felt it was right to keep the placenta. I was 9 days overdue and the fact that the placenta still kept my baby alive, was amazing to me. Two years later, we just planted it for Christmas with a gardenia tree on top. We won’t live here forever but this is where we have lived for 2 years and the house she has come to know as home.

Erin's Mom on

I’ve got to say, I think the idea of eating your placenta grosses me out. And yes, I have a child. I guess I am just sort of old-fashioned and conservative when it comes to childbirth- all of these homebirths, unassisted births, etc…all of that stuff is just crazy to me. I think people are nuts when they say “Childbirth is not a medical procedure.” If there is an 8 pound human being coming out of my vagina, you’d better bet I want to be in a hospital while it happens! And by no means do I want to take home a bloody organ as a souvenir…my baby will be enough for me.

Melissa on

My midwife dried and ground my placenta and placed it in gel capsules for me to take during my first few postpardum weeks. The gel caps mask any taste, so it didn’t gross me out… They told me that it would help by body better deal with the change in hormones and ward off the baby blues.

DIVA on

I believe the animals eat the placenta to ward off any predators, they don’t leave any evidence of giving birth.

tink1217 on

erin’s mom, LMAO!! Loved your response!!

I guess planting the placenta can be a nice thing to do, but eating it??? In ANY form (jerky or cooked or in capsule)??? NO WAY!! I am glad it nourished my babies for as long as it did, but I could never bring myself to eat it!!

Pashmina Anonymous on

No offense to anyone who does this kind of stuff, but doing ANYTHING with a placenta BESIDES discarding it for good truly disturbs me. Even burying it to help a plant grow freaks me out. And as for eating it or using it as an art supply…don’t even get me started! I don’t have children, heck, I’m not even married, but one thing is for sure: I do and always will despise saving placentas for any reason, for it is really disturbing to me. But no offense.

Elea on

To Danielle,

You have published lately a photo of David Charvet shot on the parking lot of the hospital where his and Brooke Burke’s daughter was born the day before, opening a discussion on rituals related to birth and the placenta use, discussion which in other respects was very interesting, as were the additional researches on the subject you posted alongside.

I must say I don’t live in the US, so it might explain I have a different feeling about this photo, but my first reaction was the whole message it sends is: “INVASION OF PRIVACY” and it’s disturbing, just like the Flynetpictures video you mention, where the new mom can be seen in a wheel-chair, hiding behind her hair after she saw she was filmed.
And posting it, therefore assuming publicly concerns of theirs on the subject when it may be a question they’d want to be kept private, is meaningless, -unless you previously learnt, which I’m ready to admit, that this photo shoot was made on purpose for parents to let know later in the press about what they have planned around their daughter’s birth.

As an aside, like another poster noticed it, the inscription also seemed weird to me, but you confirming that it’s real, then insisting minutes later by putting it in bold letters, along with the title you gave to this discussion as a hot post: “Did you do anything with your placenta? David Charvet & Brooke Burke did!”, may confirm that you do know for sure: please don’t let me wondering about the genuineness of your work!

I do appreciate your blog, it’s entertaining and very well written, with nice photos but I needed to share my feelings.

elea on

To Danielle,

This is no more than my personal impressions on the article you recently posted, not a comment to be published.
Hope you will finally get the message as I’m having always getting error feed-back when posting a comment and didn’t find an e-mail adress link to send it.

You have published lately a photo of David Charvet shot on the parking lot of the hospital where his and Brooke Burke’s daughter was born the day before, opening a discussion on rituals related to birth and the placenta use, discussion which in other respects was very interesting, as were the additional researches on the subject you posted with.

I must say I don’t live in the US, so it might explain I have a different feeling about this photo, but my first reaction was the whole message it sends is: “INVASION OF PRIVACY” and it’s disturbing, just like the Flynetpictures video you mention, where the new mom can be seen in a wheel-chair, hiding behind her hair after she saw she was filmed.
And posting it, therefore assuming publicly concerns of theirs on the subject when it may be a question they’d want to be kept private, is meaningless, -unless you previously learnt, which I’m ready to admit, that this photo shoot was made on purpose for parents to let know later in the press about what they have planned around their daughter’s birth.

As an aside, like another poster noticed it, the inscription also seemed weird to me, but you confirming that it’s real, then insisting minutes later by putting it in bold letters, along with the title you gave to this discussion as a hot post: “Did you do anything with your placenta? David Charvet & Brooke Burke did!”, may confirm that you do know for sure.

I do appreciate your blog, it’s entertaining and very well written, with nice photos and I thought it could be helpful to know how your work is perceived.
Thanks for reading and sending back your comments.
Elea

greeta on

Well david you’re doing well.
I’ve done it also! it’s the best thing you can do! It’s only thing you have after the pregancy! and your baby! You are a good guy!

Lynn on

I have worked in the field of pathology in private laboratories and a hospital as a histotechnician HT(ASCP) for 9 years. Placental examination by a pathologist is probably the smartest thing to do with your placenta. Burying it might make a good tree, but it cannot tell you if something might be wrong or could be wrong in the future. Placentas hold a wealth of information that is forever lost if not properly examined. And yes, I am a mother of two children, not just a lab technician.

Margo on

http://sausagemama.blogspot.com/2010/01/tada.html is what we did with ours! So happy with these modern prints. About to plant it too. Thank you for posting this CBB.

Paula on

Wow. I’m a mother of three. I would rather focus on my child than my child’s afterbirth. This all sounds rather disgusting. If ya’ll are doing this with placenta’s I would hate to think about what happens to the first poopy diaper.

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