Here at APPA, we’re big proponents of placenta ingestion! Whether you choose to encapsulate your placenta, tincture it, or consume it as a smoothie, we understand there are real postpartum benefits.
But…sometimes life happens and placenta encapsulation isn’t possible. This may be true for you and your placenta if you developed an infection or fever during labor, didn’t refrigerate or freeze your placenta soon enough after birth, or if it was sent to pathology. While this may be disappointing, especially if you were really looking forward to experiencing placenta after birth, you do have other options if you’d like to use or memorialize your placenta. These options are also great for people who don’t feel like ingesting placenta is right for them, but want to honor this incredible organ.
Here are our suggestions for what to do with your placenta if you don’t want to or can’t consume it after birth.
One great way to memorialize your placenta is to make a print. Usually done in blood on a thick piece of paper, a placenta print will show the amazing, tree-like structure of the organ that linked you and your baby for months in the womb. It is also possible to use paint or food coloring to make a more colorful print of the placenta.
Many families frame and hang these in their home, insert into a baby book, otherwise preserve them. Blood prints will fade over time, so store or display away from direct sunlight.
All APPACs are trained to make placenta prints, although some may offer additional types of prints, including digital portraits.
A cord keepsake is made when the umbilical cord (originally attached to the placenta) is cut and dehydrated. Dehydrating preserves the cord, hardening it to make it durable. Usually made into a special shape (such as a heart, spiral, or sometimes the baby’s initials), these keepsakes are powerful mementos of the unwavering connection between parent and baby.
The length of the cord is a factor in keepsake making—the longer the cord, the more material to create the desired shape.
Many families save their cords in keepsake boxes, hang them, use as holiday ornaments, or save in other ways that feel significant. If storing long-term, we recommend doing so in a dry, dark area.
All APPACs are trained to make cord keepsakes.
You may have heard of breastmilk jewelry, an increasingly popular way that parents remember their nursing journey. Placenta keepsake jewelry is a similar way to remember the process of pregnancy and birth. This jewelry is made when a portion of dried and ground placenta is preserved in resin to create a stone-like material (which is then inset into a piece of jewelry).
In general, the jewelry can be made in any form (ring, pendant, earrings, etc). Usually, a few capsules of dried placenta are needed to make a piece of jewelry. It is also possible to make a piece of jewelry out of dried and ground umbilical cord.
Some APPACs may offer placenta jewelry as part of their services, but it is not a standard part of APPA training. If you’d like to have a piece of placenta keepsake jewelry made, Full Circle Nurture in Australia, Placenta Encapsulation Services in the US, and Marrow of My Soul in Canada all offer some very beautiful options. Many of our specialists also offer this and other complimentary services.
The oldest, most traditional, and (arguably!) the easiest thing to do with your placenta after birth is to bury it. Almost every culture around the world has some tradition of placenta burial and many have specific beliefs about where and when to do so. Putting your placenta into the earth (which some say strengthens the baby’s connection with the land, too) can feel powerful and appropriate for families.
Lots of people choose to bury their child’s placenta under a special or significant tree, bush, or other plant on their own property. Some believe that the placenta will nourish that particular plant and help the child have a relationship with the plant, too. Gardens or flower beds are common places for burial, as well. Some families feel more called to bury their placenta in a wild setting.
Wherever you choose, we recommend digging down two or more feet to lessen the chance that the placenta will be accessed by animals, including pets.
When you bury the placenta, you can do a special ceremony or ritual, say a prayer, or anything else that feels right to you and your family. You can do it alone, with your partner, with your baby, or involve anyone else who you feel will be respectful of your placenta and your choice to bury it.
You can also bury your placenta after making prints, a cord keepsake, or even jewelry. Some families choose to encapsulate, tincture, or make smoothies out of a portion of the placenta, and bury the rest.
Whatever you choose to do with the amazing organ that nourished your baby, know that honoring and/or memorializing your placenta is a meaningful choice as a parent. Hopefully, whatever you choose will provide great memories to your family for years to come.