Birth & Placenta Rituals Vary With Cultures
The Navajo view of pregnancy is as a state of wellness and everything that the expectant mother does is for the well being of the fetus and the mother. She is to exercise and do chores but nothing heavy. She is not to be around anyone or thing that is dead or even go to funerals. A Ceremony called the Blessingway is done by a holy man. This puts the mother and baby in tune with the Holy people and causes balance. All mothers are expected to breast feed their children so that the child will not take on the nature of the animal. (A child who is fed cow's milk adopts the nature of the cow.) The umbilical cord and placenta are buried near home so the child will always return home. The placenta also was buried next to objects of the profession the parents hoped that the child would become. Sometimes it was given to the grandmother to discard. Or it could be buried in the fire of by the Hogan to ward off evil spirits. The child is introduced into the community with a baby shower and a Blessingway ceremony.
The Bangalore of India believe that the new mother is honored as an "exalted one." The Ayurvedic style of birthing practice gives the mother a special diet which consists of soupy dalhs with ghee, mild spices and herbs. The mother must receive plenty of rest. A few days after the birth of the child, the mother's abdomen is splashed with warm tea from eucalyptus leaves to cleanse the mother inside and outside. She stays home and is pampered for twenty-two days after giving birth.
The Balinese mother is purified twelve days after the child's birth. The placenta is buried with other appropriate offerings. For the first one hundred five days of the child's life he doesn't touch the ground. The child is held continuously in the arms of family until another ceremony which introduces the child to the family.
In the Philippine culture the midwife has a high status. She is called Lola. After she aids in the birthing of the child, she massages the mother's abdomen. She is thought to be a wise woman who blesses the child. The fear of the child being possessed by evil spirits is a great concern of the Thai people. No gifts are given before the baby is born in order to keep evil spirits away. The evil spirits are believed to be the dead childless unmarried women. The first three days to a month the child is considered a spirit child. The newborn child is referred to as an animal to escape the attention of evil spirits. The priest gives the child a two syllable name. But a one syllable nickname is used by family members this is intended to trick the evil spirits thus keeping them away from the infant.
The Hmong people believe that when a man dies he is reborn as a woman and when a woman dies she is reborn as a man. Every child is seen as a reincarnated soul. The Shaman puts the soul into the child after he is three days old and places a silver necklace around his neck to keep the soul from wandering. If the child dies before three days no funeral is planned because the child had no soul.
One of the beliefs of the people of Ghana is that if the mother's labor is difficult, she has done something wrong to a person and needs to go back to that person and make the problem right. Childbirth is the number one asset of womanhood in Ghana. Matter of fact it is believed that without birth womanhood is incomplete. Children are the parent's old age security. Delivery is normally done in the home in the bathtub because it is easier to clean. The placenta is buried near the family house so that the child will not grow wayward. Forty days after delivery the child is deemed safe and then is named during a special ceremony.
"It takes a whole village to raise a child." (African Proverb) is truly stated for the Indian in Guatemala. A person in the village is elected as the father of the woman. This person is the first to be told that the woman is pregnant. The elected parent visits the pregnant mother and gives her little things every day and in turn she tells him her problems. As the expectant mother does chores, she talks to the child about his growth, life, how to do the chore that is being done by the mother and blessing prayers are offered. The mother to be takes baths using special herbs and natural aromas. She eats special leaves that are nutritionally good for mother and child. No one eats in front of the mother without offering her some of the item even if the person does not know her. The belief is that she might abort the child because she did not have enough to eat. When the child is born it is believed that the child has a Nahual. A Nahual is a protective spirit who grows through life with the child. It is a representative of the earth, the animal world, the sun or the water so the child can communicate with nature. Depending on what day the child is born determines what representative is the child's Nahual. Only the persons who were present at birth know the day the child was born and the Nahual. The child isn't even told until he is older what his Nahual is. This is done to insure good behavior and not use the knowledge of his Nahual as an excuse to misbehave or act unseemly. At the time of the birth of the baby three adult couples are present. One of these couples is the parents of the mother but if the parents cannot be present, other family members are expected to be there. The child is looked upon as the "fruit of communal love." Single women are not permitted to be present during birthing unless it is an extreme emergency. Children are not allowed to be around the birthing process. If the new born has siblings, the brothers and sisters can not see their mother for eight days. During the eight days the community takes care of the family. The family need not spend any money because the community supports the family during this time. After the eight days the baby is introduced to the family and the community with a fiesta. During the eight days the bed area is scrubbed with lime which is thought to be sacred and a bone strengthener. Four candles are then placed on the four corners of the bed. This symbolizes the respect that the child must have for the community and for his home. The newborn's hands are bound to symbolize the child will not accumulate things the rest of the community does not have and to learn to share with open hands. The child’s feet are bound to symbolize the child is sacred and must not abuse nature or steal. After the eight days the child's hands and feet are untied. Then the child is put in a clean new bed with the mother. After the child has finished this ritual he is now ready to be welcomed into the community. Another candle ceremony is performed which welcomes the child into the universe. A bag filled with garlic, a bit of lime, salt and tobacco, which is a scared plant to the Indians, is tied around the infant's neck. When girls are born the midwife pierces her ear at the same time as she ties the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is tied with a red cord. The color red symbolizes heat, strength and all living things. Forty days after the birth of the child the people of the community give speeches and promises on the child's behalf. The speeches consist of having respect and keeping the Indian secrets; the types of food he will eat because he was made from the food his mother ate; the child's duty to multiply the race and finally remembering the Indian heroes of old. Boy children are celebrated because they will have to work hard and will have lots of responsibilities; as a result the child has one extra day alone with his mother. Girl children are celebrated because she symbolizes mother earth and life. Then he becomes a full member of the community. The baby's companion which is the placenta can be either burned or buried. If it is burned it is burned according to the time of day the child was born.
In most cultures childbirth is very important and the child is cherished. The placenta is a very important issue that must be disposed of properly or the child will not have a good life. The elders in the African American culture also believe in burying the placenta. Finally some sort of ritual is done to welcome the child into the world.
Planting Your Placenta
Many people freeze their placentas until they get a special tree or bush in honor of the new baby. As a midwife, I often had placentas given to me from homebirth couples that didn't have plans for them. I would freeze these until I needed to use one for childbirth preparation classes as an educational tool for my parents-to-be (my husband at the time was a bit leary of taking anything out of the freezer since he wasn't sure if it was a steak he was grabbing or a placenta). After the class, I would take it and use it as a gift to the earth when I would wild-gather medicinal herbs or put it in my own herbal garden after harvesting the herbal plants. I would bury the placenta amidst the plants as a "thank you" to them for their healing properties. If I had several areas from which I had gathered plants, I would cut the placenta into several pieces and spread them out over a larger area so that a greater number of plants could reap the benefits from the placenta. I would pause for a few moments and visualize the nutrients being consumed by the plants and becoming charged with healing energies.
If you are using a fresh placenta, you might want to wait for some time (some recommend a year) before planting a tree or bush on it since the rich hormones and nutrients found in the placenta are so concentrated that they may actually kill a plant. However, I haven't had this problem with placentas that have been frozen in a freezer or some time.
After digging an appropriately sized hole, score the sides of the hole so the soil is more amenable to tender roots. Put the placenta in, and cover it with a half to a full inch of soil before placing the plant on top of it. Hold the plant steady while the rest of the hole is filled. Water the plant well after planting. Newly planted trees and shrubs need to be watered on a regular basis the first year until they form a good root system. As the placenta breaks down in the soil, the tree or shrub will reap the benefits of all the nutrients packed in that placenta. Now, just enjoy watching your baby and new yard addition grow!
Placenta Burying Rituals
The following is a suggestion for a placenta burying ceremony. The burying of the placenta can be a strong way of closing with the birth and the period of intense "immersion mothering" which follows it.
The suggested ritual could be done on its own, or in conjunction with a significant milestone (eg. naming ceremony or blessingway ritual, first food, birthday, return of menstruation, or as part of a process of weaning). Please take your time when deciding when and what you would like to do and not do anything until it feels really right for you. The placenta can be stored in your freezer until you decide how you would like to dispose of it, even if it takes a year or more to make the decision.
Feel free to modify this ceremony to fit your needs. Remember that it is much more important to be true to your feelings, than to be word perfect with words somebody else wrote down. This ceremony can be used as a guideline to write your own ritual.
Preparing for the Ceremony
The first step, even before planning where and when to do this ceremony, is to find a sympathetic listener, preferably a woman who has had a baby herself, your local high priestess/coven leader, or your midwife. Discuss with your friend:
- Your birth experience. If you have any leftover feelings of anger, disappointment, or other negative feelings, these can be discarded and buried with the placenta during the ritual.
- Your ups and downs of your motherhood experience so far. Is it what you expected it to be? What you would like to change in the way you are dealing with your new reaponsibilities and duties as a mother? This could be used as a way of coming up with new coping skills you may need to help you survive this major transition in your life.
- Where you feel you are at now in your life. Examine the changes motherhood has made in your life and how you deal with it. Your past, current and future goals could be discussed and reassessed, if needed.
- What you want to get out of doing a placenta burying ritual. What does it mean to you?
This will help you to obtain a clear picture about your needs and to make sure you have the support you need to work toward a resolution of any lingering distress or trauma.
The Placenta Burying Ceremony
Go to the place where you wish to bury the placenta, and prepare a hole. Make sure it is plenty deep so local wildlife and neighborhood pets will not be inclined to dig it up. Do not discard the placenta in an open area like a lake or pond. This could cause problems with the authorities and may have legal implications. It would be a wise thing to check out local regulations regarding the disposal of human tissue, which could be considered a biological hazard. If it is to be buried in a public place like a national forest or preserve area, make sure it is off the beaten path and disposed of where it will not be found by passersby. Again, make sure it is buried deep enough that it will not be found by scavengers. If you are going to bury it on private property, make sure you have permission of the owner.
Take with you: the placenta, a candle and incense, a smudge stick, rose water, a cup/chalice and some red juice, and some simple food, such as bread. The candle can be white or possibly red in color (white for cleansing, red for motherhood) or both colors may be used during the ritual, if desired.
Pour some red juice into a cup or chalice.
Light the candle(s) and some incense. I personally like frankincense, sandalwood, or myrrh for doing a cleansing-releasing type of ritual. Make sure the candle and incense are safely handled to prevent anything from catching on fire.
Hold your baby/child and tell him/her the story of his/her birth. If you have any unresolved feelings about any of what happened, express these at this time. If your birth was in some way traumatic or stressful for you and your baby, you should have at least one supportive woman friend with you for support as you go through this process.
You may like to buy a smudge stick (often made from sage or other ritually used herb or grass that is used for purification purposes) and have your friend cleanse you and baby with its smoke after you have told the birth story. Hold your baby, and allow yourself to connect with all the feelings you experienced during and immediately after the birth. Visualize them dissolving into the cleansing smoke. Your friend can affirm aloud that she is cleansing you of all unwanted and hurtful experiences and feelings. If it feels appropriate to include the baby's father, have him hold you while you hold the baby.
You may like, in addition, to tell him/her the story of the birth you would have liked to have shared with him/her. Ask your friend to seal this, by blessing the pair of you with a sprinkling of rose water.
Bury the placenta (and if desired, plant a tree or medicinal herbs over the placenta).
Make eye contact with your child, and say to him/her:
"When you were in my womb, you were nurtured and sustained from my blood through your placenta. Now you are (or were) nurtured by the milk from my breasts (when you were little). As you grow into independence, you will be nurtured and sustained by the Earth Mother."
If you are planting a tree or herbal plants, you can add the words... "As this little tree (or name of plant) is nurtured and sustained by the Earth Mother"
Eat some of the food and drink a little of the juice. If appropriate offer a little to the child. Set aside a little food and drink as an offering to the Earth Mother.
Name and celebrate the ways in which your experience of being this child's mother has enriched you and made you stronger.
Mix together a little of the juice and some of the soil from where the placenta is buried. Daub your child's navel (belly button) with this mixture (don't do this if the baby is a newborn and the navel is still healing), saying:
"(Your child's name), I will hold you always in my heart. Yet motherhood is a continuing journey of surrender and letting go.
So I now release you to grow into the person you were born to be, setting aside all doubts, fears and expectations of my own.
I release you into the care and protection of the Earth Mother, may She be a source of lifelong nurturing and pleasure for you, and may you grow to love and care for her in turn.
I wish for you that you will never cease to grow in strength, love and wisdom your whole life long (or your own wish for your child's growth and wellbeing)."
Bless and thank your womb. Seal and reclaim it as a private inward space belonging to only you. Dip your fingers in the juice and trace a symbol of some kind, such as a flower, a heart, a spiral, or a pentacle, on your belly over your womb. Celebrate your creativity by naming any creative projects you are currently dreaming about.
Close by declaring your willingness to conceive again, or your intention not to conceive again at this time. If you do not want to conceive again, be sure to use a reliable method of contraception to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Take the offering of juice and food and pour any remaining juice onto the Earth. If you had bread, scatter some for the birds or leave it piled on top of the dirt after the placenta is buried.
Extinguish the candle and incense. When you get home, you can relight the candle and let it burn out on it's own, if it hasn't done so already. This will continue to send out the energy you charged it with during the ritual or you can keep it and save it as a keepsake of your placenta ritual.
Eating the placenta is known as placentophagy. It is practiced by most mammals in the animal world, including many primates. This excludes the majority of humans. The placenta is rich in nutrients and hormones. The eating of the human placenta can help with ailments from postpartum depression to postpartum hemorrhage. There are some midwives and health care providers who use the placenta medicinally in the early stages of postpartum because it is high in progesterone and has small amount of oxytocin. This supposedly helps reduce bleeding after birth and causes the uterus to clean itself out. Some forms of Chinese medicines also contain parts of human placenta.
When the mother finish giving birth to the placenta, the gene of the placentophagia is activated, and the mother feels hunger. This it is the moment for the mother to begin to eat placenta. The Placenta is prepared by nature to be devoured and swallowed. It is easy to eat since it is formed "chunks" about the size of a chestnut. The more quantity the mother eats, better the recovery from childbirth and the better the activation performance of all the hormonal, immunological and genetic mechanisms that command the production of mother milk and aid in her recovery. It is suitable to avoid cooking the placenta, so the hormones and other nutrients are not damaged by heat and will be of optimal benefit to the mother.
For most people the idea of eating a placenta really "grosses them out", so to speak, but when you think of other things we put into our bodies or enjoy on a daily basis (ground beef, hot dogs, bologna, etc) this really shouldn't seem so bad. Many people eat meat and animal organs as a regular part of their diet (sauteed brains with scrambled egges, tripe soup, etc.).
The placenta is the only "disposable organ" in nature, the only one that "gives life" and is available for consumption that you don't have to kill an animal to eat. This agrees with many vegan philosophies about harming animals and eating them. Some vegans may experience digestive disturbances when eating a placenta since their bodies and palates are not used to eating meat of any kind. Others may not have any problems with eating a placenta.
The criticism that a UK television show came in for a few years ago after showing the cooking and eating of a human placenta cannot have escaped the notice of many. The Broadcasting Standards Commission said that the program has reportedly "breached convention" after an episode screened in February 1998, which showed a mother preparing and eating placenta pate to celebrate her daughter's birth. Incidentally, for those of you wishing to know how the "offending" placenta was cooked, it was fried with shallots and garlic, flambéed, pureed and served on focaccia bread. In fact it must have been pretty tasty as the father of the child was reported to have had seventeen helpings, though apparently, other guests on the program were less enthusiastic!
The practice of eating placentas was also fashionable in the 1970s among so-called "earth mothers" and "new agers," but its popularity has since declined, with few mothers wanting to take their placentas home from hospital with them! Women giving birth at home are more likely to chose to eat their placenta as a part of their birth ritual or for medicinal reasons (many homebirth midwives do not carry dangerous oxytocic drugs and must rely on alternative therapies and skills to prevent or stop bleeding problems, if they should occur). Those people who agree with the practice of eating placentas argue that it is a perfectly normal thing to do, whilst those against are asking if a placenta belongs to the mother or the baby? If to the latter, this would imply cannibalism as pointed out by some of the nine viewers who complained about the television program. However, during pregnancy the placenta is part of the mother, existing for the specific purpose of nourishing the baby until birth, after which it is expelled, ceasing to be part of the her. People choosing to eat their placentas have done so because they believe in the health benefits of eating their placenta.
Although a lot of people are grossed out even by the idea of eating the placenta, even though this is something that mammals do routinely. It's even possible that the hormones in the placenta are instrumental in the mother's complete and speedy recovery from the birth. Or maybe it's a way of providing nutrition to her so she doesn't have to leave the "nest" to hunt for food at a time when she needs to be guarding and nursing her babies.
Another reason for eating the placenta is that maybe there are benefits from the stem cells in the placental tissue, although who knows whether they could actually be absorbed through the digestive tract. It is facinating the the idea of the baby's stem cells remaining in the mother's system for many years after the pregnancy. The idea that this means that the woman is also carrying the DNA of the father of her child in her body is interesting. From a New Age point of view, this could be a biological basis for "mother's intuition", knowing when her family is in danger.
Mammal fathers do not routinely eat the placenta, but many human fathers actually like the idea and will consume the placenta along with the mother of their baby. There may be some benefit to the dad's eating the placenta, which is being investigated as a very rich source of pluripotent stem cells even at the time of birth. Maybe the stem cells are somehow absorbed into the dad's system.
A word of caution:
While eating one's own placenta doesn't really pose any serious health risks, with the exception of spoilage, eating someone else's placenta can be a hazard to your health. In today's world of illness transmitted by blood like Hepatitis, HIV and AIDS to name a few, you must know that these are potentially carried through the placenta as it is full of blood. If other people are going to eat of the placenta besides the mother, they need to be aware of potential risks and the health of the placenta owner before eating it.
To prevent spoilage problems, the fresh placenta should be eaten within the first few days after the birth (refrigeration is a necessity). Any time beyond this, it should be preserved by freezing it, dehydrating it into "placenta jerky" or by making it into a placenta tincture using 100 proof vodka as a preservative (see below for instructions).
Medicinal Purposes of Placentophagy:
For best hemmorhage prevention eat a piece raw or place a slice between the cheek and gum. It can be rolled up into a "capsule-like" bullet and placed in the mouth. Another suggestion is to take a piece of placenta about the size of an pencil eraser and put it under the tongue. After five minutes, it can be removed by spitting it out or swallowed, if desired. The piece will go in very red in color, but after 5 minutes, it may look "bleached" or drained of color when removed. Another piece may be used if bleeding control is still an issue.
Some midwives recommend icing the placenta down first so it can be sliced easier, but in the event of a real postpartum hemorrhage, there may not be time to do this.
Use a sharp filet knife and slice medallion (silver dollar) size pieces from the maternal side.The placenta can be quickly blended up with some V8 juice. If you rinse and put the placenta in the freezer for a little while then slice it it is easier. If placenta is out and there is bleeding going on, the mom should eat a little placenta while the midwife is working on other things to stop the flow. It has been suggested that a little bit of membrane on the roof of the mouth is supposed to stop postpartum hemorrhage VERY quickly. Many midwives do not carry methergine or pitocin but carry only herbs and have the use their hands to prevent or stop a hemorrhage, so the use of the placenta will definately work in place of them.
The placenta has been used as a remedy for anemia. It can be eaten raw or dried and consumed in capsule form. Usual dosage would be 1-2 capsules about 4 times a day. It can be taken and combined with herbal remedies used for anemia.
For postpartum depression, the placenta can be consumed raw over a period of time by cutting it into bite size pieces and then freezing them while fresh and then taking them out of the freezer a few at a time to use in placenta recipes over a period of several days. The mother can pop the tiny pieces of placenta under her tongue when she is craving chocolate or feeling depressed or blue.
Drying the placenta and putting the ground up remains into capsules is another suggestion for postpartum depression. These can be take a few capsules at a time over a period of time. Be sure to keep them in a tightly sealed container and put into the refrigerator to keep fresh while using them. You don't want to have spoilage to occur when using placenta over a period of several days or weeks.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
Placenta Preparation as a Blood Tonic and Energizer
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, placenta is considered a powerful and sacred medicine, The use of placenta during the postpartum course to aid in recovery from childbirth is often used among TCM practitioners. After the placenta is prepared it is taken in capsule form, 2 capsules at a time, with white wine. The wine is said to help disperse the energy of the placenta throughout the body. Women can take this dose up to three times a day, and continue until they no longer feel a need. Remaining placenta can be saved and used homeopathically for those times when the child undergoes a separation from the mother. For example, when first learning to walk, or when weaning. The human placenta used to augment qi (life force energy) and blood will help augment lactation.
The placenta is prepared into a powder and encapsulated, so it's not so undesirable. To prepare, it must be cooked. Cooking in TCM is an integral part of the formation and action of the medicine. Raw is generally considered cooling, so raw placenta is cooling, and isn't recommended it as a general rule for tonic purposes to nourish blood and restore energy. In TCM, it's always used dried (cooked). Since raw placenta works great to stop bleeding immediately post partum, it may be that the cooked and dried, and therefore warmer, placenta is tonifying, whereas the raw, cooler, placenta is useful for stopping bleeding. Perhaps the hormones are destroyed in the cooking. Also, none of the actions of human placenta as described in TCM can be attributed to the raw placenta. Cooking it is part of making it what it is.
To cook, wash excess blood from the placenta. Place it in a steamer over water. Place with it fresh ginger slices, half a lemon and a hot pepper. Steam for 15 minutes, turn, and steam 15 more minutes until no juice comes out when pricked with a fork. (Steam over low heat, it has a tendency to boil over and that's a mess.) The membranes and cord may be cooked with the placenta. It is helpful to turn the placenta to "Schultz," i.e., wrapped inside the membrane when you cook it. It will shrink tremendously, and wrapped in the membranes makes it easy to deal with for the next step. After steaming, slice the placenta in 1/8" strips, similar to making jerky. Slice as thin as possible. Place the strips on a cookie sheet (over aluminum foil if you're squeamish) and place it in an oven on the lowest possible setting for several hours until completely brittle-dry. (Again like jerky) Using a food dehydrator is even better, but will take longer. Powder the strips in a coffee grinder, and encapsulate. Clients are advised to take two capsules three times a day for two weeks postpartum. It can be kept indefinitely, but is best kept in a freezer long term (like any meat).
It is not recommended for everyone, but women who do want to take it have reported that they do not have trouble with postpartum depression and seem to heal quickly from any trauma experienced because of birth. While it is difficult to say that the placenta is responsible, there are physiological reasons that may be at work. The placenta is full of natural oxytocins which are responsible for contracting the uterus and minimizing postpartum bleeding. Also it contains hormones which have recently been shown to help in the relief of postpartum depression. Women who use placenta have said it makes them feel nurtured. It takes about 12-16 hours to prepare the placenta according to the recipe. The preparation is not difficult but one must keep in mind the powerful and sacred nature of the organ you are working with at all times. If you choose to prepare it for yourself, the recipe follows.
Gently rinse the fresh placenta (it must not have been frozen, the fresher the better), keeping as much blood as possible. Steam the placenta for 15 minutes, then turn it over and steam for 15 more minutes. In the steaming water you must put a jalapeño pepper, some fresh ginger root and a slice of lime. When the placenta is finished steaming, slice it into thin strips and place these in a dehydrator or your oven at its lowest temperature. Dry the strips until they are completely dry, they should snap. This generally takes about 8 to 10 hours. Your house will smell like placenta (women like this smell but men generally find it unpleasant). When the slices are completely dry, break them up into smaller chunks and then grind them into a fine powder. It is noted that any energy you have while working with the placenta will be absorbed into the medicine, so please keep yourself centered. This also applies to your mode of grinding-if you use a blender or electric grinder your placenta will have "blender energy." A mortar and pestle can be used or a hand grinder. You can also put the pieces in a paper bag and pound with a rock. When you have powdered the placenta keep it in a cool dark place in a glass jar tightly capped. It will keep indefinitely this way.
How to Cook Placenta
There are many ways to cook the placenta. How people choose to eat it varies greatly. Some choose to use dishes that would normally contain beef or liver, using the placenta to replace the meat. This might include a stew, a lasagna or even patties. These types of recipes assumed you will prepare the placenta as the meat. This may mean you will ground or tenderize the placenta. Some choose to cube it. However you cook it, be sure to remove the membranes and umbilical cord first. Some recommend that you do not use the fetal side of the placenta.
Some of these recipes are from Mothering Magazine (September 1983, Vol. 28, pg 76). Others are from a variety of resources gathered from far and wide.
Each placenta weighs approximately 1/6 of the baby's weight. It is usually about the size of a large thick pancake or a pie. It has two sides to it, the fetal side (where the membranes and cord are attached), and the maternal side (which is the side that was attached to the uterus). Cut the meat away from the membranes with a sharp knife. Discard the membranes.
1/4 Cup Raw Placenta
8 Ounces V-8 Juice
2 Ice Cubes
1/2 Cup Carrots, Cut Up In Pieces
Blend at high speed for 10 seconds. Drink immediately.
Use your favorite lasagne recipe and substitute this mixture for one layer of cheese.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 Placenta, Ground or Minced
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
1/2 Diced Onion
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste or 1 Whole Tomato
In olive oil, quickly saute meat of of the placenta with the cloves of garlic, oregano, diced onion and tomato paste, or whole tomato.
3/4 Placenta, Cut Into Bite Size Pieces or Ground In A Meat Grinder
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Oil (Olive Oil Is Suggested)
1 Large Can Tomato Paste
1 Large Can Crushed Pear Tomatoes
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Rosemary
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Basil
1 Teaspoon Fennel
Cut the meat of the placenta into bite size pieces, then brown quickly butter plus oil. Then add tomato puree, crushed pear tomatoes, onion, cloves of garlic, molasses, bay leaf, rosemary, salt, honey, oregano, basil, and fennel. Simmer 1-1/2 hours. Pour over pasta.
3/4 Placenta, In Bite Size Chunks
1 Potato (Cubed)
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley
2 Carrots, Sliced
3 Ribs Celery, Sliced
1 Zucchini, Sliced
1 Large Tomato, Cut Into Chunks
1 Small Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
Pinch of Cloves
Pinch of Pepper
6-8 Crushed Coriander Seeds
2 Tablespoons Oil (Olive Oil Suggested)
4-5 Cups of Water
Cut Meat of the placenta into bite size chunks. Cut up potato, fresh parsley, carrots, celery, zucchini, tomato, onion and set aside. Dredge meat in flour mixed with salt, paprika, cloves, pepper, and coriander seeds. Saute meat in oil, then add vegetables and water. Bring to full boil, then simmer for 1 hour.
Use with your favorite home-made pizza recipe. This makes a fine placenta sausage topping.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon Fennel
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1/4 Cup Wine
Grind placenta into sausage-like consistency. Saute in olive oil with garlic cloves, then add fennel, pepper, paprika, salt, oregano, thyme, and wine. Allow to stand for 30 minutes, then use it with your favorite pizza toppings which may include pizza sauce, grated cheeses and assorted veggies.
A midwife's recipe for stopping a postpartum hemorrhage.
Blend a few pieces of raw placenta (about a 2 inch size( with frozen strawberries, bananas, orange juice. It makes a nice fruity drink without the taste of placenta but with all the benefits. Other fruit such as frozed blueberries, mango, or melon may be added. Milk instead of juice may be used as a liquid base.
Placenta stir-fry. Some garlic, not too much ginger (an anticoagulant), plenty of veggies. Here is a quick stir-fry recipe that uses beef, instead I have substituted placenta.
4 Ounces Dried Rice Noodles
2 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 16-Ounce Package Frozen Pepper Stir-Fry Vegetables (Yellow, Green, Red Peppers & Onion) 12 Ounces Placenta, Cut Into Stir-Fry Strips 1/2 Cup Bottled Thai Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce
1. Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the stir-fry vegetables; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Drain; place stir-fry vegetables in a bowl.
3. In the same skillet stir-fry placenta strips in remaining 1 tablespoon hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until desired doneness. Return stir-fry vegetables to skillet; add stir-fry sauce. Stir to combine; heat through. Serve over rice noodles.
This broth can be made from cubed placenta boiled in water for awhile. Drink the liquid.
Another version of this would be to take beef broth and boil chopped placenta in it for awhile until cooked. It can be consumed as is or chopped onions and garlic can be added to it to add more flavor and antibacterial, antiviral nutritional properties (from both the garlic and onions).
Rinse placenta very well until the blood is out of it, trim away vessels and membranes. Chill on ice in the freezer for an hour or two (don't freeze it all the way, just get it good and cold). Slice very, very thin. Serve on little balls of sticky rice with some soy sauce. Even better, if you know how to make sushi rolls, spread your nori out on the bamboo wrapper, spread the rice, put strips of placenta, avocado and cucumber down the middle and roll. The texture of the avocado brings out the sweetness of the placenta.
Another recipe for Placenta sashimi:
Chill on ice, slice very, very thin, eat with rice and nori (seaweed). Should be very restorative, but watch the wasabi--I think it's a blood thinner. So's ginger. Eat with a bit of soy.
Using a scrupulously clean meat grinder, grind the placenta like hamburger, or alternatively, chop finely with a knife for 'best texture'. Mix with a bit of red wine, garlic (not too heavy on the garlic--it's another anticoagulant!) and seasonings to taste (suggestions include mustard, and/or curry, tabasco (light on this, as it might promote bleeding!, or even Italian cooking herbs, depending on what her taste is.) and serve with capers, chopped hard boiled eggs and some onion. Tartare is traditionally done with raw egg, but you may not want to use a raw, unpasturized egg. Serve with toast. Italian cooking herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram) have an oxytocic effect, which may be helpful. As another regional way of preparing includes olive oil and salt as an alternative to raw egg, the italian herbs with olive oil would blend very well.
Work on the basis that each placenta weighs approximately 1/6 of the baby's weight. To prepare a placenta, cut the meat away from the membranes with a sharp knife. Discard the membranes.
1-3 Pounds Fresh Placenta (Must be no more than 3 days old)
1 Green and/or Red Pepper (Green will add color)
1 cup Tomato Sauce
1 Sleeve Saltine Crackers
1 Teaspoon Bay Leaves
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
1 Clove Garlic (Roasted & Minced)
Method: (Preheat oven to 350 degrees) Chop the onion and the pepper and crush the saltines into crumbs. Combine the placenta, onion, pepper, saltines, bay leaves, white and black pepper, garlic and tomato sauce. Place in a loaf pan, cover then bake for one and a half hours, occasionally pouring off excess liquid. Serve and enjoy!
Placenta Pastry Cake
Soak oat groats in water and when soft, pour into a bowl, drain it well and knead with your hand. When it’s thoroughly kneaded, work in flour gradually. Add a little oil to help bind flour-oat mixture. This will be like pie pastry. Spread or roll the pastry out where it can dry and when dry arrange it evenly and coat thoroughly each strip with an oiled cloth. Warm the oven and baking dish that you will bake with. Then moisten the 1/2 of the dough and knead, and make of it a thin lower crust. Combine 1-4 pounds of cheese (such as mozzarella), grated fine, place the bottom crust in an oiled pie dish and place chopped, cleaned previously cooked or raw placenta on the crust. Add the cheese-honey combination and olive oil-soaked bay leaves placed on the cheese. Place the other half of the prepared pie pastry over the placenta-cheese filling, covering the fillings like a standard pie. Fold the bottom crust with the top crust, to make a sealed ridge around the edge of the filling. Place the covered placenta in an oven and bake thoroughly and slowly checking it two or three times. When it is done, remove from oven and spread with honey. Other items of choice, such as vegetables, may be added to the filling if desired.
This is a standard calzone recipe using chopped placenta instead of other meatand a pizza-style dough.
1 Package (1/4 Ounce) Yeast
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Cup Lukewarm Water, About 110°F
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
Pinch of Salt
2 Large Eggs, Beaten
2 Tablespoons Virgin Olive Oil
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let it sit until it foams.
In a food processor fitted with a dough blade, combine the flour and salt. Mix in the eggs, then the yeast mixture, until a ball forms. Work just until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, then add the olive oil.
Remove the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and allow it to rise to double in a dry, warm place, about 45 minutes.
Punch it down, then allow it to double again, about 20 minutes.
Form into 4 balls. Lightly flour the dough and counter. Roll into thin 8-inch circles.
Proceed with the fillings and bake, or store overnight in the refrigerator between waxed paper sheets.
Makes enough dough for 4 calzones.
Broccoli-Placenta & Sausage Calzones Filling
2/3 Cup Chopped Broccoli Florets
2/3 Cup Diced Placenta & Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage
1/2 Cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Cup Shredded Sharp Provolone Cheese
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. Steam broccoli, covered, 3 minutes or until tender. Combine broccoli, placenta, sausage, ricotta, provolone and black pepper in a bowl. Place about 1/3 cup sausage mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold the pizza dough over the sausage mixture until the edges almost meet. Bring the bottom edge over the top edge; crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim.
Place the calzones on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Pierce tops with a fork. Lightly spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
This is a tasty dish that the whole family will love. It might go well served with rice, especially if the rice is loose and firm. Makes 4 calzones.
Placenta & Broccoli
You'll need about 1/2 the placenta of a 6.2 pound baby, or 1/3 the placenta of a 9.3 pound baby. Chopped and packed, this is just a bit more than 1/3 cup. (but like any raw meat, you don't exactly chop it — try sniping away at it with a kitchen scissors)
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Human Placenta
2/3 Cup Chopped Broccoli
2 Egg Whites
1/8 Teaspoon thyme
Oil For Frying
Wash the placenta well, in a colander, then shake it to drain. (it will still leak juices). Stir the egg whites with a fork until they are without lumps. Mix all ingredients well, squishing them by hand. Add a decent amount of oil to a suitable frying pan. Set a burner to high heat, and put the pan on it. Start frying, stiring as if stir-frying or scrambling an egg. The small amount of liquid (seeping from the placenta, plus the egg whites) will come to a boil. You might turn down the heat slightly at this point. Let the liquid boil away and/or solidify onto the broccoli and placenta. When it looks yummy, serve it.
I had to add these to the recipes. I figure they may help your cooked placenta to go down easier. These recipes for cocktails DO NOT contain any placenta, but they are named after that amazing little organ. Cheers!
Placenta Cocktail Recipe #1
0.1 Part GrenadinePour 1/2 shot of Amaretto into shot glass. Next pour 1/2 shot of Irish Cream into Amaretto. Follow with a few drops of Grenadine. (taste like choclate covered cherries, but looks like Placenta.
0.5 Part Amaretto
0.5 Part Irish Cream
Placenta Cocktail Recipe #2
1 Ounce Wildberry SchnappsFill most of the shot glass with schnapps. Top it off with the Tequila Rose. Wait about 30 seconds for the Tequila Rose to curdle (thus the name). Slam it!
1 Splash Tequila Rose
Pickled Placenta Cocktail Recipe #3
1/3 Ounce GinLayer ingredients into a shot glass in this order: Bailey's, Dubonnet, gin.
1/3 Ounce Bailey's® Irish cream
1/3 Ounce Dubonnet® Rouge vermouth
Dehydrating Your Placenta
Instead of cooking your placenta whole, you can dehydrate it and then add it to meals. Dehydrating the placenta leaves it in a beef jerky like format. It can then be eaten in this form or ground up using a mortar and pestle (or coffee grinder) to either sprinkle it over other foods or place in capsules to take.
No special equipment is needed. A dehydrator can be used or you can dry it in the oven.
Raw Placenta Method:
Just freeze the placenta, you can rinse it before if you'd like, then when ready to dehydrate, take it out of the freezer and let it soften just a little, maybe 15 minutes or so, then start slicing from the maternal side, with a sharp filet knife little thin pieces. Spread those out on the dehydrator, or cookie sheets for the oven, and dehydrate. Even with high atmospheric humidity it still only takes about 5 to 6 hours to dry. Take the little jerky like pieces and crumble them in a bag. You can use the pieces by themselves in soups or stews, you can make a tincture with the pieces later if needed, you can mortar and pestle the pieces and fill gelatin capsules to take like a medicine.
Cooked Placenta Method:
Another method is to cut off the cord and membranes. Steam the placenta, adding lemon grass, pepper and ginger to the steaming water. The placenta is "done" when no blood comes out when you pierce it with a fork. Cut the placenta into thin slices (like making jerky) and bake in a low-heat oven (200-250 degrees F), until it is dry and crumbly (several hours). Crush the placenta into a powder - using a food processor, blender, mortar and pestle, or by putting it in a bag and grinding it with rocks. Put the powder into empty gel caps (available at drug and health food stores) or just add a spoonful to your cereal, blender drink, etc. The recommended doses vary, some suggest up to 4 capsules a day, others just one. Perhaps the best advice is to take what makes you feel good".
Making Placenta Tincture (Essence)
Another method of using your placenta is to make a Placenta Tincture (also called Essence). This can be very helpful for postpartum depression, or anytime you need a little hormonal help.
1 40 Ounce Bottle of 80-100 Proof Vodka
1 Quart-Sized Mason Jar (You can use a larger jar if needed.)
The size of the jar will depend on how much tincture you want to make. Take your placenta after the birth, while it is still fresh, and put a fair sized piece of it in the jar you are going to use. If using the large pickling jar size, you can put the whole placenta inside it. Whatever size you use, cover the piece of placenta completely with distilled water. When I Have made herbal tinctures, I have used good quality bottled spring water when I can't find distilled water.
Place the jar in the sunlight or in a well-lit room for about 4 hours. Once done, take the piece of placenta out and add enough vodka so that its 50% vodka and 50% placenta water.
Keep it this way to preserve it, it will last the rest of your life. The instructions didn't say anything about storing the placenta water-alcohol mixture, but I would probably want to make sure it is kept in a well sealed jar and in the refrigerator where it can stay cool.
Now, to put it in usable form, get a small bottle with a dropper top. Put 50% regular water and 50% vodka in the bottle, then add 7 to 10 drops of the placenta water to the bottle.
This seems like a very small amount, but it has been said that it works through the energy of the placenta water and the vibrational properties of it. Many women that have had postpartum depression swear by it.
If you want the placenta water to be stronger and more the color of strong tea, use a larger piece of placenta in a smaller bottle.
It is important that this is done when the placenta is strong and very new, so if you don't feel like doing it yourself while hubby holds the baby, you may need someone else to do this for you. Your may ask your midwife to do this for you if she is willing.
I have been told that it doesn't matter how much placenta you use as long as you follow the instructions well and it is completely submerged in the water.
Other Placenta Uses
Making Placenta Prints - Placenta Art
This may appeal to some of you who enjoy doing artistic endeavors. Before the birth, pick up a few sheets of nice quality art paper. This can be watercolor paper, or some of the really unique specialty papers found in an art supply store. After the birth, take the fresh placenta and lay it out on the paper. You can make the prints with the blood that covers it, or wipe it off and put ink or paint on it first. To get the best prints, make sure there isn't too much or too little fluid for the print. To make placenta prints start by laying the paper on a clean flat surface (kitchen floor). Take the placenta and wipe off the extra blood leaving just enough to get a print. If you don't do this then you will just get a big blob. Lay the placenta down trying not to move it around or you will smudge the print. You can get lots of prints because there is lots of blood in a placenta! Try printing both sides of the placenta and using the cord too, if it is still attached. Trial and error will help you to learn how it works best. It will take a few practice prints but you will get beautiful, one of a kind prints. This project is not for the squeamish; it's messy good fun!
Just a note that blood is not color-fast and will fade. You may want to frame your print(s) using special UV glass and keep it out of direct sunlight so it will last longer. As well, if you are having a hospital birth you can ask for your placenta (and cord) or they will dispose of it. Bring it home and keep it in the fridge! Get your prints done soon as placentas spoil quickly! When you are done printing have a placenta planting ceremony.
Many parents have found this to be a fun activity as well as giving them a very unique, artistic keepsake of their pregnancy.
I did a radio talk show regarding placentas in June 2006 and a gentleman that was one of the callers told me that he and his wife presearved their placenta from their last baby by stretching it out like an animal hide and drying it like a piece of leather. They then made a throw pillow out of it and decorated it with art and other items. He said that they keep it on the couch even though it looks a little like something out of "The Texax Chainsaw Massacre." I thought this was a really inventive method of using a placenta and wish that he would send me the instructions on how he did it so I could post it here on this page.
The membranes (caul) can be used to create some art for your wall. It can be shaped into various forms and adhered to a sheet of paper. One mother did one that looked like an image of an angel after the birth of their last baby that had been born with the membranes intact and the mother asked a friend to put the membranes onto a sheet of paper. It can look very unique and a lovely way of preserving a piece of the birth. The cord can also be used in artwork after dehydrating it.
Another method is to simply preserve the placenta in a jar filled with formaldehyde or alcohol (the higher the proof the better), seal it, and keep it as a keepsake. Being a biology major in college, this is what I chose to do with my grandson's placenta. It is now almost 16 years old and still in great shape. I have even used it for teaching classes (childbirth as well as and EMT class I took a few years ago). It is a bit bent from being stored in a container, but the placenta and membranes are still very much intact and recognizable after all of these years.
If you have some creative suggestions or experiences that you would like to share and have included here, please email me at the address below and share them with me. I would love to hear about how you used your placenta.
Placentophagy & Placenta Links:
The Greenman.net: Placentpphagy
Reproduction-ONline: Effects of placentophagy on serum prolactin and progesterone concentrations in rats after parturition or superovulation
Recent Articles about Inappropriate Placenta Disposal
Find May Be Human Placenta
By Herald staff
Monday, June 12, 2006 - Updated: 11:59 PM EST
After the disturbing find by two walkers of what may be a human placenta near Wellesley College, investigators last night were searching for the source of what they said they believe may be human tissue. Massachusetts State Police from the Norfolk District Attorney's Office and Wellesley police were investigating the discovery of what a DA spokesman said "appears to be human tissue, possibly a placenta." The tissue was found near a pond in the vicinity of Route 135 and the women's college. "At this point we've got a lot of questions," said DA spokesman David Traub, who said the tissue is being examined by the state Medical Examiner’s office. "There has been no woman found, no baby found," Traub said. The statement added, "This matter may involve a woman and/or child in need of immediate medical assistance; anyone who might have information on this matter should contact the state police at 508-820-2121 or the Wellesley police at 781-235-1212."
Human Tissue Found Near Wellesley College
By Associated Press
Monday, June 12, 2006 - Updated: 11:57 PM EST
WELLESLEY - Investigators are looking for help from the public following the discovery of what appears to be human tissue. It was found in the vicinity of Route 135 in Wellesley yesterday near Wellesley College. The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office say the tissue may be from a human placenta. Authorities say the finding suggests there may be a woman or a baby in need of immediate medical assistance. State police are urging anyone with information to contact them at 508-820-2121 or Wellesley police at 781-235-1212.
Police Solve Placenta Mystery
By Rachel Lebeaux/ Wellesley Townsman
Monday, June 12, 2006 - Updated: 11:55 PM EST
WELLESLEY -- Police made contact today with a mother and her healthy newborn after the discovery of a human placenta floating in a pond Sunday afternoon set off an intense search on the campus of Wellesley College. Police drained the shallow man-made campus pond overnight after two walkers found the placenta yesterday afternoon while strolling in a wooded conservation area near Route 135 on the Natick line. Police would not say how they were able to contact the mother this morning and released no details on why the placenta was in the pond or where the baby was born. "No one was ever at any time in any danger at all. After completing the investigation, we are sure of that," said Wellesley Police spokeswoman Officer Marie Cleary. "The baby was never in any kind of jeopardy." Although the mother broke a criminal statute regarding the dumping of human tissues, no charges will be filed, police said. "There was no criminal intent on the part of the parents" in dumping the placenta, Cleary said. The discovery set off alarms in Norfolk County, and comes after several recent discoveries of Massachusetts babies who were apparently tossed away after being born. "We all thought the worst," county officials said before the mystery was resolved. In April, an infant's arm was found at the Deer Island wastewater treatment plant in Winthrop. Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said forensic examination determined the arm belonged to a full-term, newborn baby boy who is believed to have been white, or a light-skinned Hispanic. Earlier this month a custodian at Brighton High School made the gruesome discovery of a fetus in the girl's bathroom. That fetus was not full term.
Placenta Mystery Solved: Mom, Baby Found Safe, No Charges Filed
By Thomas Caywood and Rachel Lebeaux/ Boston Herald and Wellesley Townsman
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Updated: 07:03 AM EST
The search for what authorities feared was a desperate mother and newborn in grave medical danger was called off yesterday after police located the woman whose placenta was found in a Wellesley College pond. Mom and baby are both healthy, police said. "No one was ever at any time in any danger at all. After completing the investigation, we are sure of that," said Wellesley police spokeswoman officer Marie Cleary. "The baby was never in any kind of jeopardy." The Wellesley mom gave birth "a number of months" ago and she and her husband preserved the placenta on their own, said Deputy Police Chief William Brooks. "It's my understanding that, down the road, it can be used in the (medical) treatment of the child." When the couple decided to discard the placenta, "They dropped it in the edge of the pond," he said. After the discovery late Sunday, authorities drained the pond to search the floor. "We had to go on the premise that perhaps something bad had happened," Brooks said. He would not say how the couple was identified, but said the investigation included communication with the Wellesley College community, including faculty and alumnae. Still, until contacted yesterday around noon, the couple "were unaware all this was going on," he said. Although the mother broke a criminal statute regarding the dumping of human tissues, no charges will be filed, police said. The alarming discovery came after several recent discoveries of infants who were abandoned at birth. "We all thought the worst," one Norfolk County official said.
Afterbirth - More Than Afterthought
By Thomas Caywood
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Updated: 09:03 AM EST
Whether they plant them in the backyard with a sapling, or oven-roast them with chopped onions and peppers, new moms are increasingly choosing to keep their placentas after birth, rather than see them carted off as medical waste, midwives said. "Since the placenta is extremely full of nutrients and hormones, lots of times a mother will cook it up and eat it to reabsorb the nutrients," Salem midwife Leather Dupris said. "I've never tried it, but I guess it tastes like liver." Maternity Web sites feature recipes ranging from roast placenta to a placenta smoothie. More than 90 percent of her clients ask to keep placentas, Dupris said. Of those, most bury the afterbirth in a scenic spot or the backyard and plant a tree over it. "Give it back to nature. That kind of thing," said Dupris, the proprietor of MoonDragon Birthing Services. The placenta is essentially a vascular organ that connects a growing fetus to its mother's uterus. "It's pretty common with people having a home birth, not as common with hospital births," said midwife Susan Moray of the Midwifes Alliance of North America. "There is more and more interest in keeping it." Massachusetts Department of Public Health Chief of Staff Ed Kiely said there aren't any state laws that explicitly deal with whether mothers may take afterbirths home from the hospital. "We leave it up to the individual hospitals to develop their own procedures on this," Kiely said. Dupris got her grandson's placenta from the hospital where he was born. She pickled it in alcohol and keeps it in her refrigerator next to the mayonnaise, she said. He's 15 years old. "Personally, I don't understand the squeamishness. I think it"s a fascinating little thing," she said. "I used to have placentas in my freezer all the time. My husband at the time was a little leery about grabbing anything out of there."
And This Is Why It Is Important To Properly Dispose Of Your Placenta!... MoonDragon.org Staff
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If you have some recipes or creative ways of using your placenta, please email me and I would be happy to include them on this page.
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