Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fun with placentas

We buried Zari's placenta under a rose bush yesterday evening. It is a Joseph's Coat climbing rose that will grow up the trellises on the southwest corner of our house. The placenta was still mostly frozen, even though I had put it in the fridge early in the morning. Planting it felt slightly anti-climactic...umm, shouldn't I be saying something significant? Guess not, so in the dirt it went!


  1. I hope your dog or some other wild animal doesn't dig it up!

  2. Why have fun with placentas, not why would an animal dig it up?

  3. we buried my first two after our move here- they had been in the freezer in the city studio because we owned no earth to bury them in.

    i ate anatoly's and will eat any future placentas that come my way, try that on, anonymous! :-P

    when it was time to bury the first 2, it wasnt any big ceremony. just putting them in the ground. i am so glad they could go back to the earth.


  4. Why would you EVER eat a placenta? That is like eating a tampon or a maxi pad full of your own period blood. That is really, really, gross. I know people say they are high in nutrients but still. GROSS.

  5. I ate a piece of my placenta right after I birthed it. Partly out of curiosity (no, it didn't taste gross, kind of bland actually). Partly to prevent postpartum hemorrhage.

    There's a lot of anecdotal evidence from midwives and some docs about the placenta's ability to rapidly stem postpartum blood loss. There is not any formal research on it, because as you can imagine, no one would take such a research proposal very seriously!

    I was going to dehydrate it and grind it into a powder but I just didn't have the heart to cut it up into pieces, so I decided to put it in the freezer and bury it under a rose busy. Placentas make great fertilizer.

    For your reading pleasure:
    Midwifery Today Placentophagy Forum
    Placenta Benefits

  6. whoops, rose bush, not rose busy.

  7. "That is like eating a tampon or a maxi pad full of your own period blood."

    Not really. I haven't got any particular yen to eat placenta, but it's pretty different to period blood. I mean, it's a whole solid thing...

  8. your disgust with female functions, anonymous, inspires my pity. maxi pads and tampons are gross, not menstruation.

    i would eat my placenta because all mammals do. some might suggest that mammals only do so to hide evidence of the birth, but this isn't so (the evidence of birth is in the amniotic fluid, which is not consumed). the placenta and birth have evolved together to form a perfect circle- the placenta replaces what the act of birth uses up, nutritionally.

    i would eat my placenta because i can, and because i am not ashamed that i am an animal, a mammal. i do not have to shun my own physiology in order to be a human being. intellect and ethics do not overcome my animal nature, nor does my animal nature overcome my intellect.

    i am feminine, a mother, i give birth. the placenta does not disgust me. menstrual blood does not disgust me. there are very few things that do.


  9. First of all, Tabitha, I am not "disgusted with female functions" so I don't need your pity. There is a difference between being disgusted with female functions and wanting to eat my body products. Do you drink your period blood every month? I bet that when other animals menstruate they probably lick the blood. Your logic of eating your placenta because other mammals do so makes absolutely no sense to me. Other mammals do a lot of things that I wouldn't do. I consider myself better than a mere animal. There are a lot of animals who mate with multiple partners. If my husband decided to go and mate with other women and his logic was, "Well, it's only natural- other animals do it and I am an animal" I can guarantee our marriage would be over. Rixa's explanation of eating placenta to prevent hemoraging is a more logical explanation, but I still would not choose to do so. You also said you would "eat any future placentas that come your way." Do you mean your placentas from future children or do you mean if a friend or a random person decided to give you their placenta you would eat it too? I am sure animals would gladly eat any placenta regardless of if it were their own (thus someone said they hoped Rixa's dog or some other animal wouldn't dig her's up). So, if because you are an animal and think it only natural to do whatever animals do then I take it you would eat anyone's placenta regarless of the fact that it may be a huge health risk to you. I could go on and on but I really don't feel like arguing with a crazy person anymore.

  10. This is my blog so I am making some rules about comments:

    Please be polite.
    No personal attacks, especially sarcastic ones.
    No calling other people names.

    I reserve the right to hit "delete" if you violate my rules.

    I assume Tabitha was referring to any of her own future placentas, ie from children she will give birth to.

    Hey, let's all lighten up a bit. No one said you *have* to eat your placenta. Some of us are just explaining why we did, since it's definitely a more unusual thing (among humans, at least).

    What is "gross" or not is a function of conditioning and culture. Many Americans would be grossed out by eating foods from other cultures (raw animal organs, bugs, insects, etc). It's not that these foods are inherently "yucky"; we're just not used to the idea of eating them. Same with placentas.

    Consuming one's own placenta is much different than consuming one's bodily excretions. A placenta is a unique organ, in that it is an organ of life, not death. (I.e., eating any other animal meat or organ requires killing it first). So in that respect you can't really compare it to anything else the body produces. There is no analogous product to a placenta.

  11. This is a different and new anonymous.

    I just want to have something clarified to me. From what I understand, the eating of the placenta by humans is by no means necessary (obviously) or even helpful because our diet is nutritious enough to not justify it. I also think I've heard that doing so could infect the mother or put her at risk for certain diseases.

    Can you tell me otherwise?

    I am by no means trying to be critical, but the fact that you and some of your commenters eat the placenta seems very strange to me. Unless what I understand is wrong, I just can't seem to find a way to justify the eating of the placenta if it does no good AND puts the mother at risk.

  12. i am not offended by your retort, first anonymous.

    * yes, i was referring, lightheartedly, to my own future births, should there be any.

    * when i explained the plural reasons why i would eat my placenta, i said it was designed to replace what birth used up- in this i was agreeing with Rixa that it is useful to prevent hemorrhage and also adding the concept that it can prevent PPD and other problems of birth. you may decide which reason is more logical to you, but there is more than one reason for me.

    * i can choose what i will and will not do. by saying what i will do i am not forced to do everything else i could do, just because you think the things are equally 'gross'.

    * i do not think myself better than "a mere animal", i think i am different from other creatures, but not better.

    * sorry to have spawned this, Rixa. rest assured, however, that i am not trying to incite argument. i am also not offended. there was a time when i was upset by placentophagy. but it was only because i was afraid of something i didn't understand.

    new anonymous: i can't imagine (and i am no scientist!) that one's own placenta could give you a disease you do not already have. also, there is significant reason to believe that the hormones in the placenta stop hemorrhage and can prevent postpartum depression. i am probably even 'healthier' than most women giving birth in our country, but i suffered from PPD with my second baby. this is one reason why i chose to eat the placenta after my third birth.

    also, from my experience, placentophagy in humans is not unearthly rare. in other countries, including china, mexico and parts of eastern europe, it is heard of and even common. in china they sell placenta in capsules to non-mothers as a health supplement. in america (!!!) they put it in shampoo and face cream.

    i know i am being long winded, but i want to add before i hit enter that i think of this blog as an informative place, and not a debate place. debate is cool, but i feel no need to debate my choice to eat the placenta.


  13. So, just out of curiosity, do you cook the placenta or eat it raw? How do you prepare it? Do you clean it first, or do you just bite into it? Do you eat the whole thing or just a part of it? This whole discussion has me quite curious.

  14. I'm curious about the process, too, Meredith. How do you ladies prepare it?

  15. baby on my lap so there will be typos...

    You have no danger of acquiring a disease from your own placenta--it's just from other people's that it is a possibility.

    For PPH prevention or treatment, you simply cut off a small piece of the placenta (from the mother's side) and chew on it, or even just place it under the tongue for a few minutes then spit it out.

    Usually you rinse the placenta and remove the membranes and cord, using just the "lumpy" maternal side.

    It's best to eat placenta either raw or dried, not cooked, as heat destroys the hormones in the placenta. One common method is to make a placenta smoothie: make a smoothie with lots of fresh berries, etc and add a few small chunks of placenta.

    Other people dehydrate the sliced placenta until it's crumbly, then grind it into a powder to make "placenta pills."

    I think the nutritive value in placentas comes mainly because it is very very rich in hormones. Animal studies of placentophagy show that eating the placenta significantly cuts down on PP blood loss, etc.

    cranky baby. gotta go

  16. like rixa said.

    this time, i took a small sliver right after i delivered the placenta, and put it under my tongue. it didnt have a taste... i had just given birth and was distracted. that day (he was born at 4 am) karl cut a small amount (about the size of a kiwi) and lightly seasoned and warmed it for me and i ate it with a knife and fork. it was not offensive in any way and i didnt have to hold my nose or anything. it wasnt like meat. hard to explain.

    then we dehydrated the rest and i swallowed small pieces every day in an effort to prevent PPD. i feel it helped me. i will do it again, but i may also try the smoothie method.


  17. Interesting, so you don't just sit down and eat the whole thing then. I think that maybe some of the disgust of anonymous #1 might have come from picturing a person just sitting down and eating an entire placenta? In the pills that are sold in China, are animal placentas used or human ones? Do animal placentas have the same hormonal benefits? And if human placentas are used where do they get them from and how to they ensure that they are free of disease?

  18. I know TCM often uses human placentas. I'd have to do more reading to confirm this but don't have the time today.

    You'd only catch a disease (ie, HIV or Hepatitis) if you ate someone else's *raw* placenta. All of these pathogens would be rendered inert by cooking and I assume by dehydrating (anyone? is this true)

    Basically if you are going to eat someone else's placenta (which is extremely uncommon even among us placenta eaters!) you take the same precautions as with animal meat or organs.

    ps--yes, the image of plopping a whole placenta down on a dinner plate, membranes cord & all, is kind of icky! LOL

  19. "In the pills that are sold in China, are animal placentas used or human ones? Do animal placentas have the same hormonal benefits? And if human placentas are used where do they get them from and how to they ensure that they are free of disease?
    -Meredith "

    My first impression was that China probably has a placenta black market, and that they don't have much in the way to ensure they are free from disease. This article from Chinadaily (the English version of the official Chinese news) seems to confirm this.


    I'll watch out for the "braised pork special" when I leave to China in a week.......

  20. Thanks for the article link about Chinese use of placentas. It's fun to read articles treating placenta eating as normal...could you imagine the tone of an American newspaper reporting on people eating placentas? It would be all sensationalism and "fear factor" type journalism.

  21. About saying something important at a placenta burial.
    Here are the blessings from a friends placenta burial.


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