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An Homage to Your Fantastic Placenta

ahomageplacenta.jpgPregnant moms all do this, rub their bellies, and think about, talk to, and sing to their unborn babies.If you are pregnant, next time you are talking to your bump, remember there’s something else in there that’s almost as special as your baby – the baby’s placenta. It’s an amazing organ that connects you and your baby.

The purpose of the placenta is to collect oxygen, nutrients and antibodies from mom’s blood, and send them to the baby. It also filters the baby’s blood and sends waste out to mom’s bloodstream to process. It’s a life support system for the baby.

I was very fond of my placenta. At my five month ultrasound, the technician told me I had a low-lying placenta. In other words, the placenta looked like it might be blocking baby’s way out. “Don’t worry”, my doctor said. “They usually move out of the way. We’ll check again in a month, but avoid any heavy lifting.” I had a lovely month of lying on the couch watching soap operas and my husband doing the vacuuming, until it had moved out of the way at the next ultrasound. Boo.

So my placenta lead a quiet life until my son was born and it was ejected too. Most hospitals throw placentas away with the trash, although they’ll wrap it up for you to take home if you want. Some hospitals have a contract with cosmetic companies, who buy the placentas, then add placenta extract to expensive face creams. They are very popular in Europe and South America.

OK, you took your placenta home. What next? I have a friend with a three-year-old son, and a three-year-old placenta in her freezer. She’s not sure what to do with it. Suggestions include planting a tree over it, frightening future girlfriends with it, and eating it. Eww! Stuff that’s been in the freezer a year tastes nasty! And what would you do with it? I don’t think you can buy Placenta Helper in the supermarket, although Wikipedia has a small collection of placenta recipies.

It’s not all that weird of an idea, most other animals eat their placentas after birth for nutrition, and for hormones it contains that helps the mother’s body recover from the birth.

Westerners may not give much thought to placentas, but other cultures rever the placenta and have special ceremonies for burying it. Other cultures dispose of it as quickly as possible and believe bad luck comes from interacting with a placenta.

The tradition of burying the placenta with a tree on top of it comes from Hawaii. The Hawaiians planted the tree so that the tree could grow along with the child. I think that’s the prettiest thing to do with a baby’s placenta.

Another thing you could do, is to take a large sheet of paper or card to the hospital, and take a print of the placenta. Laying the paper on the placenta will make an imprint. A keepsake, to go with baby’s first footprints.

What did you do with your placenta? Are you pregnant and have plans for yours? Or do you have any ideas for the three-year-old placenta?

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