What To Do With Your Placenta After Birth
The journey of pregnancy is a miraculous process, and at its core lies the placenta—a remarkable organ that plays a pivotal role in supporting the development of the baby. However, the story doesn't end with birth. Let’s explore the often overlooked chapter of post-birth decisions surrounding the placenta.
Before we get started, let’s talk about the role of the placenta during pregnancy.
What is a Placenta?
The placenta is commonly referred to as the unsung hero of pregnancy. The placenta is a temporary organ that develops during pregnancy, connecting the developing fetus to the uterine wall of the mother. Working together, the umbilical cord connects the fetus to the placenta.
What is the Role of the Placenta?
The placenta is a crucial organ during pregnancy, serving as the vital link between the mother and the developing fetus. Formed shortly after conception, this intricate structure attaches to the uterine wall, facilitating the exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and waste products between the mother's and baby's bloodstreams. It acts as a lifeline, nourishing the growing fetus and supporting its development throughout pregnancy. Additionally, the placenta produces essential hormones that play a key role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Once seen as a temporary organ, the placenta, with its multifaceted functions, emerges as a remarkable part of pregnancy.
How and When is the Placenta Delivered?
Following childbirth, the delivery of the placenta is a crucial yet often overlooked phase. The process, known as the third stage of labor, typically unfolds shortly after the baby makes their grand entrance into the world. Once the baby is safely delivered, the uterus continues to contract, aiding in the separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. The medical staff will not cut the cord until the placenta is birthed.
In a natural delivery, the placenta usually detaches within 5 to 30 minutes after the baby's birth. This stage may vary, and healthcare providers closely monitor the mother to ensure a smooth and complete expulsion of the placenta. Sometimes, gentle traction or additional interventions may be necessary to assist in its prompt delivery. Alternatively, some families choose to embrace the practice of delayed cord clamping, allowing more time for the baby to receive essential nutrients from the placenta before it is carefully ushered into the next phase.
Understanding the timing and mechanisms of placental delivery is integral for expecting parents as they navigate the various choices available to them in maximizing the benefits of this extraordinary organ.
Placenta Options for Post-Birth
Traditionally, placentas have been viewed as biological waste, routinely discarded after childbirth by medical providers. However, as awareness grows about the remarkable properties within the placenta, families are exploring alternative options. Many families are now harnessing the full potential benefits the placenta holds.
Traditional and Cultural Practices
Throughout history, diverse cultures have ascribed profound significance to the placenta, recognizing it as more than a biological byproduct. Many traditions view the placenta as a symbol of life, fertility, and connection to the Earth. In certain societies, there's a rich tapestry of rituals associated with the placenta, often intertwining the physical and spiritual realms.
Placenta Burial Ceremony
For instance, some cultures practice placental burial ceremonies, considering it a sacred act that symbolizes the cyclical nature of life and death. The act of interring the placenta in the earth connects the newborn to the land from which it draws sustenance, creating a tangible link between the child, the placenta, and the ancestral soil.
Symbolic plantings are another intriguing cultural practice. In various traditions, families plant a tree or a special plant over the burial site of the placenta, signifying growth, continuity, and the interconnectedness of life. This act encapsulates the belief that the placenta, having played a crucial role in nurturing the child, can further contribute to the flourishing of the environment.
These traditions underscore the diverse ways in which different societies have celebrated the placenta as a symbol of vitality, tying together the threads of life, culture, and the natural world.
In the practice of lotus births, families embrace a unique and symbolic approach to the postpartum experience. This ritual involves leaving the umbilical cord and placenta attached to the newborn until they naturally detach, usually within a few days. The term "lotus" signifies the idea of the baby and the placenta as a unified, complete entity, akin to the unity symbolized by the lotus flower.
Families should consult with their doctor prior to considering lotus births.
Arts and Crafts
With arts and crafts, a myriad of creative expressions emerges, each capturing the essence of life's beginning in distinctive ways. From placental prints that translate the organic patterns onto paper to intimate placenta photos that freeze moments in time, and even unique jewelry pieces that encapsulate the placenta's symbolic value – these artistic endeavors provide families with tangible, personal, and everlasting connections to the extraordinary journey of bringing a new life into the world.
Placental prints, a unique and artistic expression, involves capturing the intricate patterns and details of the placenta by creating imprints on paper. This process turns the afterbirth into a canvas, showcasing the natural and organic shapes that emerge from the placental surface. Families who choose this creative endeavor often find beauty in the symmetrical and abstract designs, viewing it as a tangible representation of the journey from pregnancy to birth. The act of crafting placental prints not only produces aesthetically intriguing pieces, but also serves as a symbolic gesture, immortalizing the placenta's role in the creation of life.
Placenta photos stand out as a deeply personal and meaningful choice for many families. This involves photographing the placenta in all its intricate glory, highlighting its role in nurturing and sustaining life. Families who opt for placenta photos often see it as a powerful way to document and commemorate the biological connection between the mother, the child, and the afterbirth. These intimate and symbolic images serve as a visual narrative of the birthing process, capturing the unique story of each family's journey. Whether through black-and-white portraits or vibrant, full-color images, placenta photos offer a creative and emotional outlet for families to reflect on the miraculous nature of birth.
For families seeking to carry the essence of birth close to their hearts—quite literally—placental jewelry provides a unique and tangible way to transform the afterbirth into a cherished keepsake. This artistic practice involves encapsulating a small piece of the dehydrated and preserved placenta within a jewelry setting, creating a wearable memento. The resulting piece can take various forms, from pendants and necklaces to earrings and bracelets, allowing individuals to choose a style that resonates with them.
Medicinal Uses and Therapies
As the understanding of postpartum recovery evolves, some families explore the idea of harnessing the potential benefits of the placenta by incorporating it into their healthcare - through dietary changes and skincare. Explore the intriguing world of maternal health, where tradition meets innovation, and the afterbirth becomes a source of potential nourishment.
Placenta encapsulation involves the process of dehydrating and encapsulating the placenta, turning it into easy-to-consume pills. Advocates of this practice believe that consuming placenta capsules can offer a range of potential benefits, including hormonal balance, increased energy levels, and support for postpartum recovery. The encapsulation process typically includes thorough cleaning, dehydration, grinding the placenta into a fine powder, and then encapsulating it. Families considering this method often enlist the services of professionals experienced in placenta encapsulation to ensure a safe and hygienic process. The resulting capsules are believed by some to aid in replenishing nutrients and hormones, promoting a smoother transition into the postpartum period.
For those who seek a more direct and immediate consumption method, placenta smoothies offer a creative and nutritious solution. In this approach, a small portion of the placenta is blended into a smoothie along with various fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients. Proponents of placenta smoothies suggest that this method retains the nutritional benefits of the afterbirth in a form that is easy to digest. The smoothie's flavor is often masked by the other ingredients, making it a palatable option for those who may be intrigued by the potential advantages of placental consumption but prefer a more disguised approach.
Many women choose a recipe similar to this:
1-3 inches of raw placenta (without the membrane)
¼ cup of blueberries or strawberries
¼ cup of mango
1 medium banana
1 cup of milk (dairy or dairy-free)
½ cup of spinach
2 tbsp of honey
2 tbsp of chia seeds
5-10 ice cubes
Beyond internal consumption, some individuals explore the benefits of placenta lotions as a form of topical nourishment. Placenta lotions are crafted by infusing placental extracts into skincare products, offering a unique approach to harnessing the potential benefits for the skin. Advocates of placenta lotions claim that they may contribute to skin rejuvenation, hydration, and overall skin health. The process typically involves carefully extracting beneficial components from the placenta and incorporating them into lotions or creams. This external application is believed by some to complement internal consumption methods, providing a comprehensive approach to utilizing the afterbirth for holistic well-being.
Placental Tissue Banking
In recent years, a groundbreaking option has emerged, elevating the significance of placental tissue beyond traditional practices—the preservation of stem cells found within it. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the remarkable ability to transform into various specialized cell types. The placenta is a rich source of these valuable stem cells, presenting a unique opportunity for families to secure a biological resource that may hold immense medical potential.
Placental tissue banking involves the careful extraction and storage of these potent cells from the placental tissue. The collected stem cells are then cryogenically preserved, maintaining their viability for an extended period. This cutting-edge option opens doors to future regenerative therapies and the potential treatment of various medical conditions. Stem cells from the placenta have shown promise in addressing a range of health challenges, from blood disorders to neurological conditions.
By choosing to preserve these precious stem cells, families are taking a proactive step toward safeguarding their child's health, laying the foundation for potential medical interventions that may emerge as regenerative medicine continues to advance. As the field of stem cell research progresses, the decision to preserve placental stem cells represents an investment in the future well-being of the child and the family as a whole.
Choosing Americord for Placental Tissue Banking
When it comes to preserving the invaluable resource of placental tissue stem cells, Americord stands out as a trusted partner committed to safeguarding your family's health journey. Our cutting-edge technology and unwavering dedication to innovation position us at the forefront of placental tissue banking.
At Americord, we recognize the unique potential held within placental tissue stem cells and the transformative impact they can have on regenerative medicine. Our state-of-the-art processing methods ensure the highest quality and viability of the preserved cells, maximizing their therapeutic efficacy.
What sets Americord apart is not only our commitment to preserving these precious stem cells, but also our comprehensive approach to family health. We offer a full spectrum of health services, providing families with a holistic solution for their well-being. Our transparent pricing, coupled with various payment options, ensures that this investment in your family's future is both accessible and tailored to your needs.
Donate or Discard Placenta
Ultimately, if your family does not find that one of the above post-birth practices for the placenta are right for you, you may choose to either donate or discard.
Some families choose to donate the placenta, recognizing its potential to contribute to medical research, advancements, and therapeutic treatments. Donating the placenta aligns with a sense of altruism, as it becomes a valuable resource for scientific endeavors that may benefit others in need. Medical facilities often collect donated placentas for research purposes, including studies on regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, and advancements in medical treatments.
On the other hand, families may opt to discard the placenta for various reasons, including cultural beliefs or personal preferences. The decision to discard is a valid choice that respects individual autonomy and diverse cultural perspectives.
Deciding What’s Right For You
When looking at the journey of the placenta, it becomes evident that the choices families make extend beyond the birthing experience—they shape the trajectory of the future well-being of their loved ones. The placenta, once considered a biological afterthought, emerges as a source of cultural, historical, and, most importantly, medical significance.