I had unplanned cesarean sections for all three of my births. With my first son, my placenta got whisked away and I never got to see it, which I only realized afterward was something I felt very strongly about. So, for each of the other kids, I emphasized that I wanted to bring my placenta home with me no matter what the method of delivery.
I wanted to look at my placenta from the comfort of my home, to stare in wonder at the marvelous organ that nourished my baby. I wanted to see the veins, to gaze upon that tree of life my body grew. I didn’t get to see my sons enter this world, but darn it! I wanted to hold their umbilical cords and I wanted to take my time doing it at my dining room table.
My doula and I planned to make prints from my son’s placenta, and then I want to plant it in my yard when he turns one. I planted my second son’s placenta under a lovely hydrangea bush, but it did not survive the polar vortex last winter, which makes me very sad. I’m thinking I’ll try for some sunflowers with #3.
Anyway! The hospital where I delivered has a policy that placentas cannot be released once they have gone to the pathology lab for analysis. They also have a generic policy of sending to pathology all placentas delivered via cesarean. So, as I lay in the operating room, I felt (among all my many emotions) some sadness that my placenta would be gone forever.
Thankfully, my midwife remembered this desire of mine and asked the obstetrician if we could have the placenta. He examined it, said it seemed fine, and off the midwife went, lugging my lovely placenta in a plastic baggy. She presented it to my mother in the hallway, saying, “Katy and baby are okay. She’s asked for you to take this home. It’s a placenta.”
And so, my mother dutifully took the plastic baggy of placenta to her car, drove my placenta home, shoved it in a Ziplock bag, and wrote PLACENTA on it before hiding it deep within my freezer.
When I was feeling up to it, my doula came to my house and we examined my placenta together with my sons. She showed us the amniotic sac, the cord, the veins. She showed us the incision in the middle of the placenta, where the obstetrician had sliced right through in his haste to bring my youngest son safely Earthside. We worked together and pressed it into paper, creating a swirling ocean I hung above my bed.
The placenta next went with my friend Rachel, who delivered it to another midwife in town because she needed placentas for a midwifery training course. I was so happy to contribute and have other healthcare providers learn from my son’s placenta! Rachel, my placenta mule, is driving the organ back to my house this week now that the student-midwives have finished with it. Soon, this lovely organ will make its final trip and I will celebrate all the wild and wonderful things my body has done as I bury it in the earth.
Did you do something special with your placenta after delivery? Leave us a comment to share your experience.