Although Placenta is the name of the game, I became passionate about them all due to HOW they got into my little placenta-loving hands: Birth! I have the wonderful experience and perspective of a doula and midwifery apprentice. I get to see mamas grow their placentas (and babies too) and I get to see the placenta be born (yes, after the baby) and I get to tuck in Mama and Baby after the birth and take their placenta home to process.
I didn’t always have such an appreciation for placentas. I know I have shared this with all ya’ll already, but I used to think it was a pretty disgusting element of the whole process. Something to try to pretend like didn’t really matter, didn’t really exist. And then I learned what an amazing job this placenta was actually responsible for. You know, it just sustains life and nutrition to the baby the entire pregnancy, ain’t no thing. But it is! It’s fantastic and important and so exciting to me. Placenta needs a good hefty pat on the back is what she needs. (Yes, Placenta is female- I just decided.)
I think we can all agree that this birth business is no joke. Being born is hard work and getting something born is even harder. I have been witness to so many hardworking mamas and hardworking babies, negotiating and agreeing together how they will perfectly synchronize the efforts of birth. I have seen labors that have lasted for days and labors that have lasted for minutes. I have seen simple and textbook deliveries and complicated and challenging ones. I have held a woman’s hand in celebration of her experience and held a woman’s body in sadness for things not unfolding the way she hoped for. In almost all circumstances, there is the placenta: wrapping up the birth, and often utilized for the beginning of postpartum healing. Good ol’ dependable placenta!
I never expected to hold such reverence or appreciation for this body part. But something really magical happens these days when I get a placenta home to encapsulate for my client; I am processing my experience of her birth at the same time I am processing her placenta. As I hold this precious organ in my hands, I am often reflecting on the entire journey in detail. Rinsing the placenta and remembering when she told me she was in labor; examining the fetal side of the placenta and reminded how baby’s heartrate sounded; examining the maternal side of the placenta and thinking of what a strong and capable body this woman had; steaming the placenta and recalling the love and sacrifice of this mother’s journey; encapsulating the powder after dehydration and imaging mom and baby snuggled up so sweetly, resting, getting to know one another, learning breastfeeding, dreaming of their new family.
No matter what the birth was like, I am honored with the task of preparing and bringing their placenta back to them in the most useful form. I get to check in with them in person, I get to love and congratulate them again; I get to be a part of their postpartum wellness and journey. And it is like a therapy for me, for what I saw, participated in, and held witness to during the labor and birth and then finally postpartum- a family in the making. And just like that, it’s not ALL about the placenta… but it’s the placenta that makes it all about the family for me. –Tiffany