When talking about placentas I sometimes have bubba from Forest Gump vibes happening. Well, you’ve got; placenta prints, placenta tinctures, placenta capsules, placenta smoothies, planted placentas, frozen for later placentas, placenta jewelry and discarded placentas. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s it.
When ingesting your placenta, capsules are the go-to. Made by dehydrating a placenta that has had the blood, cord and membranes remove. The dehydrated placenta is then ground and put into capsules. They are taken in the first weeks postpartum and thought to ward off baby blues, help with milk production and balance mood. The remainder of the pills are often frozen and utilized during menopause. The amount of capsules you end up with depends on how large your placenta is and depending on region encapsulation can cost anywhere from $160 to $500.
There are two other options for placental consumption. Raw and tincture. Placenta tincture is made by placing pieces of placenta in alcohol and storing in a glass container in a cool dark place for six weeks. The placenta solids are then strained out and the resulting tincture is placed in a glass bottle with a dropper. Since the tincture is not ready in the time frame that most consuming their placenta find most valuable, it is frequently utilized for PMS and secondary infertility, along with insomnia and raising mood and energy.
Raw consumption of the placenta is what usually gets people, I think they envision a freshly postpartum parent with a dracula-esque face having just taken a bite straight from the placenta. I have seen placenta be consumed raw two ways; firstly, is to take a piece of placenta or umbilical cord and tuck it away in your cheek (buccally) to inhibit or slow postpartum bleeding. This is completely antidotal and should only be utilized if you have made a plan with your birth team and have evidence based antihemorrhagic drugs as a backup. The more widely used method for consuming raw placenta is to use it in smoothies. My favorite recipe is to add some placenta to, orange juice, banana and strawberries. The strawberries and orange juice mask the color and aid in iron absorption. If you are having an out of hospital birth and are interested in the smoothie route talk to your providers. Midwives are typically happy to make up your first smoothie and make little individual serving sized freezer bag portions of placenta that others can dump into subsequent smoothies for you in that first week postpartum.
What if you are grossed out by the idea of consuming your placenta, but recognize that it is pretty cool and kept your tiny human alive for the better part of a year? You still have options. I am kind of in love with placenta prints. I am asked often if I consume my placentas and if not what I do with them. I regret whole heartly not getting prints done. They come in a variety of colors and often the cord can be placed in a way to spell a short word or make a heart. They are beautiful art pieces that many frame and hang in the nursery. What I did do with my youngest child's placenta and recommend to anyone that is feeling too sentimental to toss it out but is not interested in consumption is to bury. If you live somewhere that has frozen ground a third of the year, it is likely you may have to pop it in the freezer until spring. Then, when you are ready find a plant and a nice spot in your yard and before planting your plant, drop the placenta in. It will nourish your new tree or bush just as it nourished your baby. We picked a nice peach tree, and I just like the idea of a small orchard of fruit trees where each child has one that is special to them.
I've provided some links below if you would like to research farther. I will also be sharing a facebook post with some local placenta processing resources.