Don't Wanna Eat It? Placenta Burial Practices Explained
You heard your friends talking about placenta encapsulation, you know all the many, many benefits of ingesting your placenta, you thought about it, you talked it over with your partner, your mother-in-law, your co-worker and you still, really, truly just cannot get on board. You tried. But frankly, it freaks you out and makes you want to dry heave a little bit when you think about it. Ok, ok, ok stop being so dramatic- haha! We know you just don't want to toss your amazing organ in the trash, which also seems kinda strange and wasteful, right? You have options, sister! Read on...
Your answer may be: placenta planting. Yup, you can burry your placenta in the earth and still honor the magnificence that this vital organ brought to your womb and your baby. I mean, after all, your placenta WAS made by you - for the very specific purpose of keeping your baby growing and well-nourished during pregnancy. Your placenta pretty much did it all, and deserves the credit and a little bit of respect and gratitude. Placenta planting might be the best way to do this, if you just can't stomach it - literally ;)
Burial of the placenta is no new age idea on this planet. Just like we know that the practice of eating the placenta after birth is deeply rooted in many cultures the world over, we have evidence that placenta burial is a prominent practice as well. Many cultures believe the placenta has a magical and spiritual quality to the baby it nourished in the womb. Even once the cord has been cut, many cultures believe there is still a permanent bond and is handled with a great deal of respect. Some even get superstitious and believe if the placenta isn't handled with the utmost reverence, the baby or parents or even the entire village could suffer consequence.
In Peru, the father is expected to take a journey to a far-off destination and bury it so that the placenta doesn’t become "jealous" of all the attention and care the baby gets and by some act of revenge cause an epidemic to the people.
In South American Indian cultures it is believed that burying objects with the placenta can influence the child's life. Girl's placenta are usually buried with a hoe or a loom and boy's placentas are buried with a pick or shovel.
In the Philippines some placentas are buried with books to mark intelligence on the child it belonged to. Fun stuff, isn't it?
So it's likely you aren't reading this post to get ideas about how you can avoid misfortune or find good fortune in the way you bury your placenta, but maybe finding a more "normal" way to bury yours? Maybe that should have been the title of this post: How to Bury Your Placenta like a Normal Person. (I'm chuckling)
You have lots of reasons to not eat you placenta but here are some good reasons why you should bury it:
- You can honor the placenta in a way that is more comfortable to you
- You can bury it in a special place, or with a special tree or plant
- You can choose a special milestone to commemorate the placenta with; such as- Baby's first birthday, ending the breastfeeding relationship, getting your period again for the first time, or another special blessing.
How to bury your placenta:
1. You can bury your placenta fresh from birth (within 4-5 days after birth. Note: It should be refrigerated after 4 hours after birth) You can also freeze your placenta within the first 4-5 days after birth and bury it frozen at any time, it will "keep" forever in the freezer.
2. You can make it as much of a ceremony or ritual as you would like. Will you invite any special people to join you? Will you include a special prayer, poem or prepare other special words to say?
3. What will you bury the placenta in? It might still be in a bag or tub from the birth. Plastic is not biodegradable so I suggest you bury it "naked" in the earth or find another earth-friendly container for it. Birth to Earth offers a cute little package for this exact purpose: http://birthtoearth.com/
4. Choose the spot where your placenta will go. If you aren't sure if you will be living at your current home forever you may not want to leave it behind in your yard when you move. You might choose a large potted tree or other plant instead for mobility, or you might be just fine with leaving your placenta in the earth if you move.
5. When you do choose to finally plant it, dig a hole 1-2 feet deep. 2 feet if you have an animal that digs or know that other animals will frequent your yard. I guessing you wouldn’t want to discover your placenta outside of the place you plant it afterwards?
You could simply send your partner out with a shovel on Saturday morning and drop the placenta in a hole. Or you could create an entire ceremony and celebration around the burial, making it as elaborate as you want. Everyone will find their happy medium to honor their placenta. And no matter how you actually choose to plant your placenta, you can know that you gave it purpose outside of the womb, and recognized it for the biologically significant purpose that it did have to nourish and grow your baby. And we like that around here!