Placental plans—what you can do with your afterbirth

By Published On: January 24th, 2012

Do you have plans for your afterbirth?Many women choose to […]

Do you have plans for your afterbirth?Many women choose to make the most of their placenta, using it for various purposes including art, dehydration into pill form or placentophagia (the eating of the placenta). Andrea Bukiewicz, midwife apprentice, birth doula and co-creator of The Lady Fallopia, a soon to be released Chicago-based ‘zine about all things woman, shares the info she’s gathered along the way in her dealings with placental encapsulation and placenta-focused art.

What is the process used for making placenta prints?
The process is very simple and anyone can do it. The placenta’s blood is used instead of ink or paint. You place the placenta on a hard flat surface and then place a sheet of watercolor paper over the area you wish to imprint. By gently pressing on the paper, the blood will transfer. It’s similar to using a stamp.
Do many women opt for this?
Not too many women ask to have me make a print. Because it’s easy to do, many do their own prints before handing the placenta off to me to prepare it.

Research on the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the placenta is still in its infancy, but there has been a rise in women that are interested in placentophagia. Why do you think this is? Have you noticed an expansion in your client base over the last few years?
The act of ingesting ones placenta has been around since the beginning of time. Many women in other cultures around the world utilize their placenta either by ingesting it or preparing it for medicinal use among their community. In our Western World, it is a new concept for many women and there has definitely been a rise in the amount of new mothers choosing to ingest their placenta. I believe that this is partially due to women sharing their story of ingestion and how they have benefited from it. I know most of my clients have referred me to their family and friends and that has resulted in a larger client base. They often share with me how they have told mothering groups & people from work about how wonderful their postpartum experience was, largely due to ingesting their placenta.
I feel women in our western society are missing an amazing experience during their postpartum. Many women in other cultures undergo a type of mothering during this time. I think more women here are intuitively longing for that connection and experience. I believe by having their placentas prepared & then ingesting it is fulfilling some of that need.
On your placenta preparation page you mention the numerous health benefits of reintroducing the placenta to the post partum body, do the majority of your clients experience all of the benefits listed or does it vary based on the individual?
I do believe that the majority of my clients experience most of the benefits. There are many variables that may cause one mother to experience one thing while another may not. Everything from the mother’s health during pregnancy to whether or not she experienced a stressful birth to how it is prepared will affect the benefits.
Does the placenta lose nutrients during the Traditional Chinese Method? What are the advantages of eating placenta raw?
Unfortunately the placenta does lose some of its nutrients prepared the Traditional Chinese Method (TCM). There isn’t a whole lot of research out there on placenta preparation but we do know that cooking most foods will exhaust some of its nutrients. We also know that by cooking meat our bodies can more easily break down and utilize the nutrients available. The thought behind TCM is that the warmth & energy the placenta is given during the steaming will in turn nurture the mother by providing warmth while she is healing.
Consuming your placenta raw is thought to give women the most benefit when compared to TCM. It allows the body a chance to absorb all of the nutrients and hormones lost during the birth. Many would say this is the preferred method with the best out comes. The downside of this would be the short shelf life of the placenta.
Be on the lookout in February’s P&N for an in-depth look at the amazing placenta.