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What can I do with my placenta?

There is something truly magnificent about the placenta. This tree of life provides your baby with nutrients, oxygen, and the perfect home called the amniotic sac. In today's society, most placentas are whisked away leaving many women without the opportunity of even getting to see it. But did you know you have options when it comes to your placenta?



Placenta. Delayed cord clamping. Water birth.
The birth of Hawken. Image by Angelia with Bending Willow | Motherhood Stories



Delayed cord clamping

This topic is a whole blog post for another day but how could I leave it out when it is such a beneficial option. Many care providers wait less than 30 seconds before cutting the cord or don't wait at all. As evidence shows the benefits of delayed cord clamping some providers automatically wait but even then that could look like one to two minutes or "milking" the cord to rush the process. In short, babies aren't born with all of their blood. By waiting to cut the cord you are allowing your placenta to pump the remaining amount into your baby which of course has countless benefits. For some families this can look like waiting 5 minutes, waiting until the cord turns white, or even having a "lotus birth" where the cord is not cut at all but allowed to naturally detach from the baby over time.



You can wait for your placenta to naturally detach from the uterine wall

and even deliver your placenta yourself

Many times we see everything in the birthing process being rushed, but what happens when we slow down and let our bodies do what they are made to do? Many care providers begin to pull at the cord and maybe even give you Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin which causes your uterus to contract) to manage this stage of birth. Allowing your placenta to physiologically detach from the uterus can look like having your baby nuzzle at your breast skin to skin (causing your body to produce natural oxytocin hormones) which encourages your uterus to contract, waiting until you instinctually feel ready, and maybe for some this looks like delivering their own placenta!



Placenta. Midwife. Birth. Postpartum.
The birth of Neo. Image by Angelia with Bending Willow

You can see your placenta!

Tell your care provider you'd like to see your placenta. I love seeing women being shown the anatomy of their placenta like where the baby lived, the different textures of each side, and the vein and arteries that ran through the umbilical cord. This is the only temporary organ in the body and is so worth seeing!




Consumption

Yes, we have to talk about consuming the placenta! This can be done in many different ways from encapsulation to the good old placenta smoothie. Women who consume their placenta report they have more energy and a better milk supply. There is not much evidence on this so placenta consumption is a personal decision that many factors go into but it is certainly an option to consider!



Burying your placenta

This cultural practice shows just how sacred the placenta can be! What a beautiful ceremony it would be to bury your placenta, maybe even planting a tree or flower on top!



Placenta. Placenta Print.
The birth of Neo. Image by Angelia with Bending Willow

Placenta Prints

There is something so beautiful about the placenta! Each one is so unique and what a more perfect way to preserve its beauty than a work of art. I've seen this be done at home births and even at a local hospital as a gift from the midwives. Now you can see what the placenta looks like and what I mean when I say the tree of life!





Cord keepsake

Drying the cord into the shape of a heart or the word "love" is common as well. Many are painted and kept in a safe place to cherish forever.



Your placenta is absolutely amazing! Not only is it a huge aspect of creating life but it is beautiful as well. It doesn't have to be something that is never seen and tossed into the trash. Being a part of the different aspects of the birthing process can help you take charge of your experience. I hope you enjoyed learning about options for your placenta!



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