7 things you can do with your placenta

While many mums and birth practitioners discard of the placenta without giving it a second thought, there are others who decide to keep it  – for a range of reasons.

A mum's reason for using the placenta can range from keeping it as a reminder of the physical bond between herself and her child, to digesting it for nutritional and post-birth recovery reasons. While this is nothing new – in fact, it's an old tradition in many cultures – it's gaining momentum in the modern world, with more mothers now giving real consideration to what they'd like done with the placenta.

Here are a few options for using the placenta after your baby's birth.

Placenta print from Etsy/PowerfulMamas, placenta pearl pendants and ring from BeyondTheWillowTree, and placenta pizza.
Placenta print from Etsy/PowerfulMamas, placenta pearl pendants and ring from BeyondTheWillowTree, and placenta pizza.  Photo: Supplied

1. Eat it

The placenta is reportedly loaded with vitamins and nutrients – after all, it helped to provide all those things (plus oxygen) to your baby in utero. It can be cooked up like any other meat: into stews or sauces, for example, or even eaten raw. This writer tried it on a pizza, while another website gives recipes for roast placenta, placenta lasagna and placenta spaghetti bolognese.

There aren't any generally known risks to eating the placenta, however it's important to check with your birth practitioner before doing this.

Another option is to preserve or ferment your placenta in alcohol, in which case it will (if done properly) last for a lifetime. Some women use it to help ease the symptoms of menopause.

2. Have it encapsulated

Placenta capsules are currently the most popular way to ingest your placenta; as Lucretia McCarthy, a doula from Birth Insight, says, "It's a more palatable way to have it."

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Research hasn't proved this is beneficial, but some mums swear by it. "The evidence is anecdotal and every woman responds differently," McCarthy says. "The feedback suggests women have an increased milk supply, higher energy levels, less postpartum bleeding and they don't feel so hormonal."

If you decide to have your placenta encapsulated, it's important to use a trusted or referred encapsulator with a high focus on hygiene.

3. Create artwork and keepsakes

Some people are very creative and make artwork from dried placenta. You can either do this yourself or research an artist you like to help you do that. Online stores such as Natural Beginnings and Opening to Life are a good place to start looking for inspiration.

Over on Etsy, there are dozens of ways you can have a keepsake of your placenta too, from glass sculptures to knitted mementos and paintings.

4. Bury it

Planting the placenta in a meaningful spot is another ancient cultural tradition, and parents have translated this to modern times. A great option is to plant it with a new tree, so you can watch the tree grow as your baby grows. The placenta is said to have nutritional benefits to the roots of the plant.

This is best done in a large potted plant, as it can be illegal to dispose of biological waste in some areas - and if you ever move house, you can take the placenta plant with you.

5. Make placenta smoothies

There are anecdotal benefits to digesting the raw placenta soon after birth, and preparing a smoothie is the easiest way to do this. Many women who choose this option add fruit to dilute the flavour.

While this can be easily done straight after birth in a homebirth setting, it's a little trickier in a hospital.

"I take the placenta and cut a few slices, and then the mum can make smoothies in her own home," McCarthy says. "It can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for longer, and the raw placenta seems to give mums an instant kick with immediate benefits."

6. Have it made into jewellery

For those who feel a real spiritual connection with the organ that helped their baby to grow in utero, having it turned into jewellery can be a lifelong reminder of that bond. Online stores like Beyond the Willow Tree and Baby Bee Hummingbirds specialise in making customised placenta jewellery.

If you haven't been able to use your placenta this way (or if you wish you had, but it's too late), you can also purchase jewellery that honours the importance of this organ – just browse Etsy for some options, including pendants and felt brooches.

7. Leave it at hospital

If none of these sounds like your cup of tea, you always have the option of leaving it with your caregivers for disposal - easy!

Still not sure what you want to do with your placenta? You can always check out Pinterest for some different ideas.

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