Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Placenta....Not for the Sqeamish of Stomach

I'll warn you...unless you're committed to alternative birthy crunchiness, you might get a little ill over this one. :P I'm trying to spare you, so you can reconsider and not scroll down if you don't wanna. If placentaphagy gacks you out, turn away, dear reader. Laaaa dee da, dootie do: filling up the page so you can click away if you must...

No? OK. Here we go.

This weekend, I had several doula friends at my house, and, at my request, we all had some fun with the placenta from Eva's birth (which, until Sunday, had resided in my freezer). Wheeee!
;OP It was actually really cathartic for me to examine it and marvel at the miracle of life, after the whole retained placenta drama. A friend helped me examine it and try to find the spot where the retained piece had been, and then we dehydrated it for encapsulation.

my friend L helps unfold it, while Essie is very interested. She's striking a pose here...silly willy.

Essie's words were, "This is SO. COOL. I'm going to be a midwife or a SURGEON when I grow up, because I'm a *lover* for how the body works!"
She asked us over and over to explain the order of how nutrition gets to the baby. Her original theory was that the placenta carried milk directly to baby's tummy, and when she found out that the nutrients and oxygen went from one bloodstream to another, she was over the moon. She asked us to draw us a diagram: mommy to placenta, placenta to cord, cord to baby's belly button.

We first thawed it with lukewarm can see the cord (white) still attached

The water bag membrane was tough and wicked cool, if I do say so myself. :P All that vitamin C payed off, apparently, because it was beautifully flexible but super, super tough. It was so very smooth and supple, the perfect home for a tiny baby in utero. God's seriously smart. That bugger was STRONG. No wonder my water stayed intact until the pushing phase! That's the way mama likes it. ;oP

When it finally thawed and we could unfurl it completely, my friend Jen pointed out small patches of white calcification, on par for a 41 week baby. :O) Baby's side was smooth, while the side that had been attached to the uterine wall was wrinkled, and the wrinkles fit together like a puzzle piece. It was really amazing to see how functional, comfortable and miraculous this temporary organ was for my baby girl...her very first "home".
Jen shows me how the wrinkles line up. It look oddly pale after rinsing, as I'm used to seeing them very red right after birth.

There was literally an odd, small rip on the very edge of mine on the side where the piece had been retained, and it was exactly the length of the piece my midwife retrieved and showed me. Bingo! Little booger. That was the trouble maker. :P There was a bit of strangeness going on at the cord attachment site, AFA how the membranes were attached to it. I need a midwife opinion on that one.

The actual separating of the membrane and the placenta was the trickiest part of the whole deal, really. My friend J did that bit, and I'm forever took quite a bit of doing. Then I (forgive the gory detail) chopped it into little chunks and we blended it to a pate consistency witha ridiculously funny shot taken by my Lindsay...placenta bead provided by another sweet, funny friend. Oddball humor abounds.

some ginger (ginger optional ), spread it thinly into dehydrating trays and dehydrated it. I left the dehydrator on 150 or so for probably 12 hours, and probably it would have been safe with less...but we went to bed.

(At this point in the process, I suggest cooking something that smells rather strong, or sticking the dehydrator on the porch. My dh made curry for us that evening, and the scent of the dehydrator was pretty much completely masked. No earthy icky weirdness, unless you just stuck your nose into it. MUCH better than I'd imagined.)
Me and baby Eva...cuter than her "wombmate", eh?

It's broken into dried wafers and stored in my fridge (sorry, dh).

I have some pics of the dehydrated bits for anyone who's fact I'll go ahead and commit to posted them later. This afternoon, I'll do the actual encapsulation and post that, too. :O) Thanks for looking, and HTH if you're intested in your own dehydration! It's much, much simpler than I'd originally supposed.


  1. I never knew you could encapsulate after you have frozen it. How long is to long to have it frozen?

    LOL....I have 4 of them in my freezer. I assume 3 are too old but the youngest is 6 months.

  2. That is way cool!! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you so much Ashley for sharing that with us! <3 I'm still nervous to work with Asher's placenta, but you've at least given me a little more courage from seeing your pics.

    Can i just say I love how E is right there in the thick of it and her interest in how the placenta works. So cool!

  4. That was SO COOL!!!!! Loved hearing about Essie's interest too! I think encapsulated is the *only* way I could eat it!

  5. fabulous! thanks for posting all of that. My daughter was the same way with the placenta- she was fascinated by the whole giving birth/placenta thing. she was going to be a midwife or doctor too, but now she has decided she likes horses much better :P

  6. Very cool!! Are you still going to post pics of the dehydrated pieces? I'd like to see them. Thanks for sharing this process with us! :D

  7. Hi, it's a very great blog.
    I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
    Keep doing!