The Placenta is a pretty amazing organ developed by the woman’s body in order to feed her foetus. It grows with the baby in the womb, and it remains attached to the uterus providing the baby with it’s much needed oxygen and nutrition via the umbilical cord. Following the birth of the baby, there is also the birth of the placenta. Whilst the baby’s health is checked after birth, so is the placenta, for it should be whole. If there are bits of it missing, the mother will need some urgent medical attention. It should look like a fresh bit of juicy meat with veins that resemble a tree.
Some cultures treat the placenta with very special care and they go as far as giving it a ceremonial burial. This is because some people, like the Hmong from China for example, believe that the placenta is the baby’s first clothing and it must be buried at the family’s home where the soul can find it’s after life garment once the person is deceased. If the soul can’t find its placenta clothing it will remain wondering in the afterlife.
Some western women may also choose to bury their placenta, but if they are in a town where stray dogs or even foxes roam around, they may wake up to find it gone! In most cases the placenta is disposed of in hospital, together with other bodily waste. Unless, of course, the woman is planning on eating her placenta. She will request for it to be handled carefully and hygienically, placed in a sealed container and ideally put in the fridge or a bag with ice cubes.
There is no scientific evidence to prove that eating your own placenta is beneficial, however plenty of women out there are doing it. There are different methods of placentophagy: you can cook a piece of your placenta like if it were a steak, seasoned with salt and pepper; or, you can prepare a raw placenta smoothie by adding a small piece of placenta flesh to a big bunch of frozen red berries. If you are worried about feeling like Hannibal Lecter or tasting bloody berries in your drink, then perhaps the new trend of placenta encapsulation is the one for you.
After Mad Men star, January Jones, declared she had swallowed her placenta capsules, this was sure to be a hit amongst women all over the world. Women who have trained in placenta encapsulation usually provide this service. They will cook, cut, and dehydrate the placenta, turning it into a powder. This dried placenta powder is compressed and put into capsules for women to swallow as they please, although they do come with an expiry date.
Ok, but why? Some women swear by it. They feel energised, happy, hormonally balanced. Some say they skipped the baby blues all together and ensured their breasts were full of milk for their babies. If you are still not convinced placenta encapsulation is for you, let it be known that you can also make a tincture. The magic alcoholic potion lasts for a lifetime!