Updated: Nov 15
You kind of know what the placenta is.
You probably know that it’s also referred to as the afterbirth. The placenta starts forming around 4 weeks, it basically grows with the fetus. The placenta is located at the upper part of the uterus, so after you give birth to your baby, you will start delivering your placenta. I won’t get too far into the science of it all, this isn’t that type of blog post. But for context, the placenta is like a filter between mom and baby. The placenta will filter oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients from the mother’s blood to the baby, while also filtering out potential harmful substances.
The placenta’s job is even more complex than what I’m giving it credit for, but did you know that people still use their placenta even after pregnancy? It’s actually more common than you might think. An average placenta is said to weigh just over 1 pound - that’s a lot of material to work with! Also, while we’re talking about how amazing the placenta is - I guess we could also thank your partner. Studies have shown that the placenta’s genes come mainly from your partner, but you definitely get the credit for growing it. Now, let’s get into what you might want to do with your placenta post-delivery.
Here’s a list of 10 possible things to do with your placenta:
1. Blend up a Smoothie. There’s a bunch of different placenta recipes you can utilize for your
placenta. Circa 2013 Kourtney Kardashian placenta prank. What was she supposed to be making again? A roast? One of the most popular recipes seems to be smoothies. For one, it sounds like sources boast about the nutritional properties of ingesting the placenta raw versus cooked. Now for a word of caution, there has been a case report of a mother who consumed her placenta that contracted Group B Streptococcus due to insufficient heating temperature. Standards for processing and consuming placentas maybe aren’t...fleshed out? We just want to say - definitely consult your doctor or a medical professional prior to blending it up raw.
2. Make It a Pill. Probably the most common method of ingesting the placenta. At one point it really felt like the current celebrity fad. We’re talking Alicia Silverstone, January Jones, and Mayim BIalik. So why are we ingesting placenta again? While there’s little evidence that ingesting the placenta offers health benefits, there is research that shows the placenta contains nutrients and hormones. There are lots of personal accounts that details benefits such as improved milk production, improved mood and energy, postpartum depression prevention, and pain relief. The verdict is still out on how safe and how placentophagia benefits you. Our take is - keep an eye out on current medical research when it’s time for you to decide what you want to with your placenta. You never know when definitive evidence might pop up.
3. Plant a Tree. Many have taken upon the act of burying the placenta and planting a tree on top. Many cultures in the past and present have carried out versions of a placenta burial. The association between the burial of placenta and tree might be most closely related to those within the Maori culture of New Zealand. The meaning behind the ancient practice of burying the placenta, whenua ki te whenua, reflects the Māori philosophical view that the placenta, like the land, provides physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual nourishment and furnishes all the needs of humanity.” This can be a great commemoration to celebrate your body/pregnancy. We’ve heard of different people planting trees or flowers of significance to them, it’s definitely a beautiful way to add sentimental value to your experience.
4. Turn It into Art. Have you seen a placenta print? What it is essentially is an ink-stamp of your placenta. It’s definitely not your ordinary stamp print, so click here for in-depth instructions. The print might not be the most aesthetically pleasing art, however those personal keepsakes are never a bad idea! If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable with making the print yourself, there are services that will make the print for you! You just have to ensure it’s somewhat fresh. Please send us a DM or comment if you’ve done this! We would love to hear more, seriously.
5. Freeze It Up. No shame if you can’t make a quick decision! We all have overloaded freezers full of frozen ingredients right? Okay, I’m mostly joking. You can definitely freeze your placenta as you decide whether you want to go forth with any of the aforementioned options, but there’s also a greater medical reasoning to freezing your placenta. Maybe you’ve heard of saving the baby’s umbilical cord for reasons of collecting stem cells in the case of potential illnesses. Like the umbilical cord, research also shows that there are more stem cells to be harvested from the placenta. There are pros and cons for harvesting both the placenta and the umbilical cord. Click here to see more facts on what might be most beneficial for you.
6. Donate to a Good Cause. There are so many ways your placenta can be used for a worthy cause. Like #5 suggests freezing for future use, you can donate to a public cord blood bank to help others in need. Chances are that your child would most likely benefit from someone else’s stem cells, instead of their own. Your doctor will give you a more well-rounded explanation of this cycle if you have any further questions about your specific situation.
7. Slather on Skincare. Now, we can’t really comment on the science of skincare benefits you might get from placenta skincare. If you wondered if it was possible, I’m here to tell you that it’s certainly an option. Different companies might boast about different benefits, common “benefits” include firming qualities, collagen production, hydrating properties, etc. This might be a really interesting topic for a skinfluencer to dissect, please link us to any videos if you find them!
8. Mix Up a Tincture. People have also mixed up tinctures, as it’s said to help stabilise hormones and increase energy levels. Again, I can neither confirm nor deny. It’s one of those options, I might say ‘look out for’. Maybe don’t jump on the bandwagon, but keep your eye out as more research (hopefully) comes out.
9. Make Some Jewelry. Before you decide that this is too kitschy for you, I promise there are some beautiful and wearable designs there. Though making your placenta into jewelry might sound extra or not the best jewelry investment, hear me out. This is truly a unique piece of jewelry and it’s a great potential conversation piece. This would also make a beautiful present for someone that’s just given birth (for the partners out there). Also in case you’re wondering what I was wondering...no, you don’t have to mail out your fresh placenta. You do have to go a step further however and encapsulate your placenta first.
10. Leave It Behind. You can definitely leave it behind! If you don’t like any of the options above, you can totally part ways with your placenta via your hospital. They will be discarded as ‘medical waste’. If you are having a home birth, the medical professional tending to you will most likely provide proper disposal equipment and/or liaise with a professional medical waste disposal company.
We hope this was useful or, at least, entertaining for you! If you are a soon-to-be delivering mother, congratulations! Hopefully this helps you in your placenta decision! Like always, we recommend chatting with your medical professional. We would also LOVE to hear your placenta story, give us a shout over on our Instagram @reyahealth if you’re interested in sharing!