A few weeks ago, I encapsulated my first placenta. This is something that I've wanted to do for quite some time, so I was very excited that I had some clients ask me to do it for them. I've already got another placenta lined up with some clients who are due next week, so I'm hoping that this is an aspect of my doula business that takes off.
To begin with, I boiled all my equipment (knife, cutting board, etc.) for ten minutes, just to make sure everything was clean. I prepped the seasoning and items I was using to steam the placenta with.
This is how the placenta was given to me by the hospital. My clients had to sign a waiver acknowledging that it was "hazardous waste" and that disposal of said waste was their responsibility if they took the organ home from the hospital.
This is the placenta after I rinsed the blood off of it. The long gray thing is the umbilical cord.
This is the sac that the baby lived in.
Close-up of the umbilical cord.
You can see that the veins make a "tree of life" image.
It felt surprisingly odd at first to be slicing into the placenta. I mean, I have great respect for the placenta - it is a part of the mama and the baby, and it contains a lot of energy. I had to remind myself a few times as I removed the membranes that I was honouring the placenta by helping it into its next incarnation. By focusing on the fact that I would be returning it to the mama in a manner that she could continue to use it vs. the fact that it would just end up as medical waste helped me to do my work.
Even though I thoroughly rinsed the placenta before I began cutting, it released a lot more blood as I continued on my way. I was not sickened or disturbed by handling the placenta or by the blood. I'm sure part of the reason was because I was raised having to skin and dress the animals that my parents hunted and also because I am not easily freaked out by bodily fluids.
The most difficult part for me to carve was the part where the umbilical cord was connected to the placenta. The membranes were very tough!
This is the placenta being steamed. The aromatics included in the water truly disguised the scent.
Ever wonder what steamed placenta looks like? Well, wonder no longer!
Looks and feels like liver. Truly.
I cut the placenta into strips and I manipulated the umbilical cord so that it would dry into a heart shape. Everything went onto wax paper and into the oven.
After several hours in the oven, everything dried nicely.
Using a mortar and pestle, I ground the placenta until it was fine. This took almost two hours. It was lovely and meditative.
I put the ground placenta into these vegan gelatin capsules and then put them into a glass container for the mama.
This particular placenta was very small (the baby was only 5lbs, 2. oz), so the placenta only yielded 58 capsules (some womyn are able to get between 100-200 capsules). The mama is currently taking her placenta pills and feels that they are helping her milk supply and mood. She was happy with how the placenta encapsulation went. She said she could tell that I had put a lot of intention into the process...and I had!
The mama decided that she didn't want the umbilical cord, so I now have it hung up on my wall. It's tiny and subtle, but I know what it is, and every day I look at it and feel so humbled and grateful that I was entrusted with this sacred process.
I can't wait to do this all again - I learned so much! The human body is amazing.