Birth: that heart-melting moment when you finally meet your precious cargo after that insanely long nine-month wait.
But it's not all romance and roses. Usually the nurses will take your wailing newborn to check their vitals while you continue to push out your placenta — that bloody nest that 'feeds' your baby while they grow inside you. This rather gruesome-looking baby sack usually gets thrown away, but some believe the placenta has amazing properties that shouldn't be wasted.
I'll agree that the placenta is pretty amazing. During your pregnancy it passes on nutrients, oxygen and all the good stuff to your growing child. Still, is it as useful after birth? Some believe it is, opting to bury it under a tree or even choosing to eat it like January Jones did when she gave birth to her first born recently.
After I saw mine – which looked horrific, I must add – I marveled at it for two seconds then forgot about it again focusing instead on my newborn baby girl, so I assume they threw mine away or maybe doctors are using it for research as I type…
After learning that a new trend has begun in which stem cells from the placenta are frozen in case the child needs them later on in life, I started doing some research and found that the placenta is far more celebrated than you might imagine.
Here are a few interesting and extreme ways people use the after birth.
There are a few cultures in which burying the placenta is common practice. New Zealand's Maori people believe that burying the placenta highlights the strong connection between humans and the earth.
People in Cambodia and Costa Rica bury the placenta to ensure the health of both mother and child. If the mother dies in childbirth, the Aymara of Bolivia bury the placenta in a secret place so that the mother's spirit won't come back to claim her child.
In today's modern society some families choose to bury the placenta and plant a tree over it as a symbol of life. It can be a lovely reminder of your child’s birth every time the plant blooms.
Believe it or not, there is a recipe book called The Placenta Cookbook written by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian who identifies various benefits such as relieving post-partum depression, replenish nutrients and even aid in lactation. New York magazine has identified the practice of serving up your own placenta as a snack as a growing trend in the US. Still, science has yet to stamp it's approval on all these claims of high nutrition that authors like Abrahamian claim the placenta offers. For different recipes on placenta cooking, click here
Below is a video of a father cooking and eating the placenta
"In order to show gratitude towards birth," is what one company says is part of the reasons behind creating artwork out of the placenta. The organ is placed onto a sheet of paper and the placenta imprints an interesting albeit, bloody, pattern. The question is: where do you hang this type of "art"?
The placenta is frozen until it is needed then it is cooked, dehydrated and crushed into a powder and poured into capsules for a vitamin pill that is said to increases milk supply, boost energy, ward off post-partum depression and is reportedly jam-packed with iron and natural hormones.
Freeze for stem cells
The benefit of stem cells harvested from the placenta for potential use later on is still being researched, but scientists believe that just like stem cells from the umbilical cord it can help children with incapacitating diseases. South Africa has its very own private stem cell bank called Cryo-Save South Africa which is a offering this service.
Teddy bear placenta
In 2009, designer Alex Green created a placenta teddy bear as part of a sustainable toy exhibition. The placenta was cut in half and rubbed with sea salt to cure it then dried out and treated with an emulsifying mixture of tannin and egg yolk to make it soft and pliable. The innovative teddy is said to have "celebrated the unity of the infant, the mother and the placenta". While the thought counts, I doubt any child would want to cuddle this teddy.