|Placenta burial in Ubud Bali, with offerings of burning coconut and flowers.|
Birth is an everyday miracle. If left uninterrupted it has the potential to be ecstatic. After the birth of our baby, during the third stage of labor, we birth our placenta. This is the life force that protected baby for 10 lunar months.
In the U.S. it is rare for women to even see their placenta during birth. Hospital protocol includes tossing the otherwise precious placenta into biohazard containers. Globally, there are many countries, villages, communities that use the placenta as medicine, or honor it as a spiritual part of a child. A Bumi Sehat birthing center in Bali, where I completed my gentle birth training we attended a naming ceremony in which the placenta was buried on a certain side of the house, specific to sex. We listened to stories and deep meaning of the placenta, or "spiritual twin" of newborn baby. Rich in nutrients and hormones it is known to be an effective way to replenish the body postpartum. Postpartum hemorrhage is a killer in Bali, due to malnourishment, the midwives of Bumi Sehat swear by eating a chunk of the placenta to quickly and efficiently stop postpartum bleeding.
Four things to do with your placenta:
- Encapsulate into placenta medicine. Known to have significant clinical effects, especially in the treatment of postpartum depression, fatigue, low milk supply, dizziness and headaches. There certainly a trending "placenta medicine" in the US so you should have no shortage of people to dehydrate and encapsulate. Many herbalists will also offer encapsulation with added blood and qi nourishing herbs to help further replenish you after birth.
- Plant your placenta. As mentioned above, in Bali it is common ritual to plant the placenta. The child of the placenta will then consider this "home." Into adulthood Balinese people visit their placentas as ritual. In the US a know of many women planting the placenta around the roots of a tree, and later teaching the child that this is "their tree." What fun!
- Eat it! If you have experienced postpartum depression you may be in assembly with the many women who express they would do anything to avoid round two....or three... So, eat it! Why not get the replenishing hormones and rich blood and nutrients right away. If I can talk my long term vegetarian sister into doing it, I'm sure you can too. ;)
- Make into salve. Along with encapsulation some midwives, doula's and placenta workers are creating salves with combined herbs. This can be effective in the treatment of cesarean birth scarring, hemorrhoids and cracked nipples, etc.
To schedule or learn more visit my website:
Kat Starbird, M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., birth doula