Western Perception of Placenta’s Lost and Remembered

I am a doula and mum of four, I am not medically trained, I am writing this from a my own feeling, and bit of research I did because I was very much inspired having been asked to say a few words at a friends placenta burial recently and would like to share my feelings and thoughts.

The placenta, a piece of waste after birth, an organ that filters blood and nourishes our babies, it has no value, people in our society feel its gross, its horrible to look at, and to consider eating it?… well that’s even worse … that is how many of us view it and was me too 20 and 15 years ago when I had my eldest two babies. It is a common school of thought society on the whole has created over the past few hundred years.

We are so far removed from nature and sentience in so many ways, possibly due to lack of education and exposure to birth. However it is returning to our lands bit by bit. In the year I have been a doula I have met so many women who are in tune with their bodies and nature, we are slowly waking up and realising that things are missing from our culture and for many of us it takes pregnancy and birth to see this. Our connection to our pregnancies, births, and the role of placenta’s has been lost along with many spiritual practices indigenous traditions due to our busy modern lives and the way culture has changed over the centuries.  It makes me wonder of the impact this all really has on our children.
Many societies throughout history believe the placenta is not only a physical source of nutrients but houses part of the babies spirit too.

N0026580 Life in rural Indonesia. Burying the placenta
Life in rural Indonesia. Burying the placenta Credit: N. Durrell McKenna. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://images.wellcome.ac.uk Life in rural Indonesia. Burying the placenta. A young father shades the traditional birthing attendant whilst she places the wrapped placenta of his newborn baby into its ceremonial burial hole. Photograph Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 UK, see http://images.wellcome.ac.uk/indexplus/page/Prices.html

To honour our placenta really is a special thing, it is a tradition so lost in our culture and it saddens me when I see so many thrown away in the sluice after birth. However many people are now seeing how much value and meaning the placenta holds and there are many around the world who still honour placenta tradition’s.

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(Japanese Placenta Burial)

The placenta is seen in Chinese medicine as a sacred medicine, it was written up in a materia medical in the 1500’s as a sacred medicine for the mother to consume to strengthen her after birth, as it not only contains nutrients, and hormones, it is full of energy. It was also known as the location of the chakra of the womb in pregnancy, according to tradition of the Aryan people from Persia, India and Tibet.  AAs is also written in Robins Lim’s book ‘The Forgotten Chakra’.   Not only does a placenta grow and nurture a fetus through the blood it carries it also cloaks them in an energy centre for extra protection and is the bridge from earth to spirit. If you look at the outer side it resembles the tree of life, also signifying our link from spirit to earth which has not gone unnoticed by many cultures.

Placenta-300x265Image from ‘The Forgotten Placenta’ by Robin Lim

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Many of the indigenous societies believe it to be a part of the baby and linked by spirit bury it to protect the child’s soul through life, often buried in native soil near to home or under a tree so the child will always have a sense of home and know how to get back by feeling their link.

Many placentas are buried with objects to ensure the baby will have specific skills and wishes their parents want for them to have all they need as they grow up. Or in more recent traditions since birth in hospital began and placentas are discarded of, in Turkey for example, some people will cut the umbilical cord and throw it to a school for the child to have knowledge, or to the sea to be safe at sea, or a work place to be a good business person. You get the intention of this tradition.

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Close up of my nephews umbilical cord.

The inspiration for my blog as I wrote at the beginning is through seeing a friends journey this year. She decided to honour her babies placenta after birth, she was so in tune with her pregnancy and baby, to her it felt wrong having it thrown away. She did this not even knowing other people have strong beliefs and have been honouring their placentas around the world since time began, which confirms to me the spiritual importance of honouring such a special organ that has so many facets to its amazingness.

(my beautiful friend’s placenta burial in Sussex for the their Son’s placenta, posted with permission. All her photos are by Gama Cru)

This blog has only touched on the subject as the placenta traditions is an entire book or series of books really once you begin researching and writing everything down. Burial is also only one aspect as many people are now seeing value in eating their placenta after birth for the hormone balancing and extra nutrients its provides too.

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The capsules I made for my sister.

Before you finish reading though I just want to suggest these thoughts. As humans we have perhaps not evolved as a species for a long time. Our modern society doesn’t seem to fit our biology in a lot of ways creating poor health in so many of us which may be different if society could change. Becoming a conscious parent and raising our children more intuitively could be a start to improving society. Starting at birth and being intuitive in the decisions we make for our babies. The placenta is one of those decisions. If it is said to be all these amazing things that can help spiritually and physically if you consciously make a decision to use it or honour it even if it is a waste product of birth no harm can be done in trying to make a conscious choice and bringing back old birth traditions.  I also want to add I do not judge people who choose not to use their placenta, we can bring back many other traditions and choose to be conscious parents in other ways.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Namaste

 

References: and for further reading…

Book: The Forgotten Chakra. By Robin Lim.

Websites:

placentasremediesnetwork.org

http://placentawisdom.com.au/blog/2015/08/10/placenta-traditions-and-beliefs/

There are also many well researched blogs and articles on the subject if you want to find out more!

 

 


 

 

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