Most mammals eat their placentas. Only humans and marine mammals do not. Those who believe in the benefits of placentophagy say that it wards off postpartum depression and helps balance hormone and iron levels in new moms. However there has not been enough research done to support this theory. The internet abounds with recipes – you can turn your placenta into stew or smoothies but by far the most popular way to prepare it is to dehydrate it and turn it into nice neat easy to consume capsules.
Make a painting with it.
If the thought of displaying a print made out of your own blood doesn’t turn you off, consider making a painting out of your placenta. The beautiful, unique patterns of your baby’s ‘tree of life’ make a one of a kind keepsake.
Extract cord blood from it.
Storing your baby’s cord blood is like having insurance against some potentially fatal diseases. Cord blood banks make their money exploiting parents’ fear, and I’m not too keen on the idea of anyone profiting from someone else’s misery. The idea is that if you store your baby’s cord blood and they one day develop leukemia (for example) you can then use that cord blood to heal them. The truth is that any baby’s cord blood would do, and perhaps national free cord blood banks would be a better choice than private ones, allowing more children to benefit. The chance that your child will develop a disease that could be treated by cord blood is very small, and the price tag for storage is very high. That being said if you are wealthy enough to not be turned off by the price and unlucky enough to need the blood, then obviously it is worth it. Know that if you choose to bank your baby’s cord blood you are also choosing to clamp the cord early before it stops pulsating, and that blood that goes into the bank is blood that your baby might have had better use for right now.
Lots of people and cultures have a tradition of planting a tree on top of the placenta. My son’s placenta was used to fertilize a cherry tree and the people who bought our house are now enjoying its fruit.
Do nothing – for now.
Those who follow the custom of Lotus birth do not cut the cord once the baby has been born; instead it is allowed to fall off by itself. This requires a bit of a commitment as you have to carry the placenta around in a purpose built bag for a few days or a week. Once it detaches from the baby on its own you can still plant it or paint with it but you can’t eat it or harvest it.
What do you think? Food, art materials, or medical waste?