I was at the hospital yesterday picking up a placenta from a lovely young couple who were in that incredible moment of fresh delight and awe after the arrival of their baby boy. It was a quick birth and the mother was wide-eyed in amazement. I could see and sense the hormones still pulsing powerfully through her. It is such an incredible moment… time has stopped, the world has stopped, the baby is held tightly in his mother’s arms, the father is looking on. Both parents’ eyes were wide, their pupils dilated and their faces were smiling openly.
They told me a little about their amazing birth experience, which was quick and simple. They thanked me for coming and looking after their placenta for them. We talked about how animals all eat their placentas – even vegan animals like cows.
The father said he was a bit shocked at the idea at first. The mother said to her it was recycling all the goodness that went into growing her baby back into her. She explained how she was very careful to eat really healthily while she was pregnant and put only the best in her body so that she could give the best possible to her baby through the placenta. It made sense to her to cycle that goodness back to herself again. There was delight and excitement in this mother that I often witness, a deep pleasure in following her instincts in this way and giving back to herself and her baby.
This got me thinking about the cyclic nature of support and nourishment of the placenta. I see if on many levels, first there is the cycle of blood through the mother to the baby and back again. This is so amazing; the placenta provides all the functioning of the organs for the baby, lungs, liver etc. The mothers blood pulses through the placenta and then through the cord to the baby. The baby then releases what they no longer need through the cord to the placenta and back through the mother.
Through the blood, there is an exchange of oxygen, hormones and nutrition, everything the baby needs to live and grow.
When a woman is pregnant her blood volume increases significantly. When she births her baby she has a loss of blood volume. Some of that nutrition, iron and hormone content is lost from her system.
Part of the arduous job of recovering from birth, and the factors in exhaustion and post-natal depression is this sudden significant loss. When a woman eats her placenta, that essential sustenance on all of those critical levels is cycled back into her system. What’s more – it is from her body so it is a perfect match to her needs.
Of course when a mother reclaims that goodness back into herself her baby receives all the benefits. The cycle of happy mother happy baby is supported.
And then there is my part in it. As a placenta specialist, I am profoundly supported by the placenta. I pick up the placenta and process it into capsules so that it is easy for the mother to ingest. I also provide the service of honouring the placenta with prints, photo’s, cord keepsake and a letter. This honouring is part of the exchange as it validates each mother’s own instinctive desire to claim this incredible part of the creation of her baby as well as prioritising her own need for sustenance.
My family and I are nourished by the payment, the honouring of life, the blessing of being a part of the birth circle and appreciation of my services and my services nourish the family. My thirteen year old son said to me the other day that he likes having placentas in the house, when I asked why he said that they bring a relaxed feeling with them.
It is the nature, the purpose of the placenta to provide what is needed to the baby and the mother. This abundant provision extends out to anyone who enters the circle. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of this nourishing cycle.