The placenta is truly amazing. This specialized organ helped your baby grow and thrive while in your womb.
It supplied nutrients, blood, and oxygen. It helped transfer waste and kept out germs. It created life inside you.
The placenta deserves to be appreciated and celebrated. Plus, it can even provide many benefits postpartum. But, how exactly do you go about commemorating the placenta or gaining benefits from it?
In this post, we’ll cover 5 fantastic things you can do with your placenta after birth for keepsake or potential benefits. We’ll also talk about if you can take your placenta home from the hospital and give you a few storage tips.
5 Fantastic Things to Do with Your Placenta
1.) Eat It
Eating your placenta after childbirth has become more and more popular in recent years due to its potential health benefits.
While there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of eating your placenta, several anecdotal evidence has shown that it:
- Reduces risk of postpartum depression
- Boosts milk supply
- Increases energy levels
- Minimizes postpartum bleeding
- Aids with insomnia
- Restores iron in your blood
Some women do eat their placenta raw, within the first few days after birth. Most of the time, the mom will cut a few cubes off the placenta and blend it in with a smoothie, like with this recipe.
Other moms will cook the placenta, just like you would with any other animal meat, and consume it that way. You can find some pretty creative placenta recipes, like lasagna, chili, and even baked goods.
2.) Encapsulate It
If eating your placenta raw makes you queasy, but you still want to reap all the benefits of consuming it, then you could consider encapsulating it. A process that has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine (source). Encapsulating turns your placenta into digestible pills, through steaming, dehydration, and grinding.
Don’t leave it to just anybody to encapsulate your placenta though. Make sure you find a certified encapsulation specialist, that has been through proper training courses. Many birth doulas are even certified to encapsulate placentas and may include a package deal in their services.
But remember, while consuming your placenta has several potential benefits, there are also potential side effects. Some moms have reported dizziness and jitterness after taking placenta pills.
3.) Plant It in the Ground
If consuming isn’t for you, then consider giving your afterbirth back to nature by planting it in the ground. Your placenta can continue to nourish other living organisms and help them grow.
Maybe you have a special tree in your yard you’d like to plant it by, or maybe you’d like to use it to enrich your garden. You could even keep your placenta in the freezer for a year, and then have a special ceremony on your baby’s first birthday.
4.) Make Placenta Prints
Placenta art is such a fun keepsake to commemorate your pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, several placenta services often include placenta prints as part of a package when you encapsulate.
We decided to do placenta prints with our second baby, and they turned out great! My doula, who’s certified in placenta services, made several prints for us with both the baby side of the placenta and the mom side.
Frame your prints and hang it up on the wall next to a few photos of your baby, to demonstrate how the placenta created a lifeline and helped your little one grow.
5.) Mix a Salve
Many placenta services also offer salves that are made with a bit of powdered placenta, beeswax, coconut oil, calendula, sweet almond oil, and sometimes a few other herbs and oils.
Your placenta salve can be used to ease common postpartum discomforts, such as hemorrhoids, cracked nipples, perineal tears and stitches, and can even be used on cesarean scars after they’ve closed.
Placenta salves are also safe to use on babies, as long as they don’t have any skin allergies. Many moms find the salve to be helpful for eczema, diaper rash, and sunburns.
Can I Take My Placenta Home from the Hospital?
How you get your placenta home will vary depending on state laws. In some states, the law actually forbids the parents from removing the placenta from the hospital at all. The placenta is considered to be medical waste and will be disposed as such. In other states, the mother just has to sign a liability and release waiver and can take her placenta home after it’s placed in biohazard packaging.
However, should a complication arise with your placenta, it will most likely be sent to the pathology lab, and you won’t be able to take it home anymore. In pathology, your placenta will be exposed to an unsterile environment and may be converted to a liquid for testing to make sure baby isn’t at risk for any developmental issues.
If you’re hoping to take your placenta home, be sure to checkout your state laws and contact your hospital ahead of time. If you plan to use an encapsulation service, be sure to have all the details you need from them as well, as some companies will actually pick it up from the hospital directly.
If you’re having a home birth, you will not be subjected to hospital restrictions regarding the placenta.
Placenta Storage Tips
You’ll want to be sure to store your placenta properly in order to avoid spoilage. If you’re having a hospital birth, they’ll probably place your placenta in biohazard packaging. But, if you’re having a home birth, you’ll want to be sure to double bag it in gallon-sized Ziplock freezer bags.
While you’re waiting to consume or create a keepsake, you’ll need to keep your placenta in a:
- Cooler: Be sure to bring a cooler with you to the hospital if you’re planning on taking your placenta home. Get your placenta on ice within 3-4 hours after birth, and transfer it to the fridge when you get home. You should also keep your placenta on ice when transporting it to your placenta service business.
- Refrigerator: You can store your placenta in the fridge for a few days, just like any other meat. However, the sooner you consume or encapsulate, the better.
- Freezer: If for some reason, you cannot consume, encapsulate, or create a keepsake within 2-3 days after giving birth, then you’ll need to transfer your placenta to the freezer, where it can be kept for up to a year. Your placenta shouldn’t be frozen, thawed, and then refrozen.
Pregnancy and birth is truly fascinating. And, not only do we give birth to our babies, but we also give birth to our placentas, the organ that connected us to our babies while in the womb and helped create life. This afterbirth bliss deserves to be celebrated, and it can even continue to provide us with benefits postpartum.
Many new moms will consume their placenta, either raw, cooked, or encapsulated, because of the many potential benefits, like reduced risk of postpartum depression and increase in milk supply. Other moms to choose forgo consumption, and celebrate their child’s birth by planting their placenta. You could even do some neat placenta art or turn your placenta into a salve to help with cracked nipples, hemorrhoids, and other postpartum discomforts.
If you’re having a hospital birth, you’ll need to be sure to check your state laws to make sure you won’t have any issues with bringing your placenta home. No matter which route you choose, be sure to store your placenta properly in the meantime, especially if you’re planning on eating it.
What About You?
Did you do anything with your placenta after giving birth? Share how you commemorated your afterbirth in the comments below and be sure to share this post with other expecting moms.