I stumbled across the photos we took of the burial of our daughters placenta the other day and I noticed that there were lots of accidental mini videos! I have turned them into the above mini movie and I thought I’d share a snippet of our journey.
When our first baby was born in 2013 I had not heard of placenta encapsulation. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with our babies placenta, but I knew I didn’t feel comfortable with leaving it at the hospital to be disposed of as medical waste. It came home with us in an ice cream container and was placed in our freezer. My husband and I discussed burying it under a tree when the time was right. When I was having milk supply issues our midwife asked if I had considered encapsulating my placenta. I looked into it briefly but was swept up in my sleep deprived postpartum haze and didn’t take it any further. However, a seed was planted.
At about 6 months postpartum I started to look further into encapsulation and fell down the rabbit hole of information available. It didn’t take long for me to know that I wanted to study to become a certified encapsulation specialist.
I decided to make a tincture out of our daughters placenta that was in the freezer. I safely defrosted it, made some placenta blood prints, tinctured a piece and dehydrated the cord into a keepsake. I then refroze it to bury at a later date.
It wasn’t until our son was born 3 years later that we got around to burying it.
Throughout history, if a society has not consumed their placenta they have at the very least acknowledged that the placenta is an organ containing much power and they have treated it with awe and respect. Returning the placenta to Mamma Earth is very common ritual the world over.
Many cultures believe that burying the placenta protects the health of the baby, others believe it brings good luck. Many families choose to bury their child’s placenta under a tree. The placenta can be buried whole (It’s a good idea to give it a few weeks in the earth on its own before planting a tree over the top as it is so full of potent goodies) or one can also bury the dehydrated powder.
Below are some varying traditions, rituals and beliefs as taken from one of my favourite books “Placenta – The Forgotten Chakra” by Robin Lim. You can read more on Robins amazing work HERE.
“Native American Navajo tradition encourages the baby’s grandmothers to bury their newborn grandchild’s placenta and umbilical cord at a special place in the earth that represents their dreams for the child.
To protect new mothers from infection and postpartum cramping, a Costa Rican midwife may wrap the placenta in paper and bury it in a dry hole with ashes from the cooking fire.
Mayan people’s religious tradition roots them to the earth at the moment of birth. When a Mayan child is born, the placenta is buried in the ground as a religious ritual. This place holds special meaning for the Maya; it is where the individual is symbolically “planted” in the ground to root his or her Mayan identity. In this way the person will not become individualistic or selfish, but a part of the community, of nature and of the cosmos.
In parts of Vietnam the placenta is traditionally buried under the mother’s bed.
The Maori call the placenta whenua and the umbilical cord pito. They believe that when the child’s whenua and pito are buried on Marae, tribal land, the individual’s sacred link with the Earth Mother Papatuanuku is cemented.
In Indonesia, the placenta is commonly buried or put to sea in a coconut or a clay pot. Hospitals would not dream of throwing away the placenta: It is always given to the family for disposal according to their cultural traditions.”
Egyptian children’s placentas were buried in the Earth or gifted to The Nile and some royal placentas have been found buried in a tomb all of their own!
One of my teachers, Shamanic Midwife, Jane Hardwicke Collings, has received teachings regarding the placenta directly from Aboriginal Elder Minmia, Wirrloo Law-Woman.
Minmia discusses with Jane in depth the importance of getting the birth ceremony right, which includes honouring the placenta (and I so love that she refers to birth as a ceremony and a rite of passage, which it SO IS!)
Minmia states that placentas are absolutely NOT biohazardous waste and that they hold, on the side that is connected to the Mother, the baby’s Miwi print, which is the babies life journey map, their souls destiny for this lifetime. Minmia says that what is supposed to happen is that when babies are born, the cords are left untouched until they stop pulsating. With the cord still pulsing, and as the baby takes its first breath, information is transferred to the baby from the placenta via the cord, on how to follow their map, their Miwi print.
Later, the placenta and the cord are buried in Mother Earth where the Miwi print lies until Mother Earth receives the child first ‘seed’.
For girls, this is their first blood at menarche, and for boys this is their sperm from their first wet dream at puberty.
As the childs seed hits the Earth it is recognized instantly almost as if it enters a computer data system. Mother Earth then locates the childs placenta and locks in the seed which acts to ground and guide the child throughout their journey in this physical life.
Being an encapsulator, I have asked Jane what Minmias take on consuming the placenta is, and she has said that if you feel called to consume your placenta you can certainly do that and you can choose to bury some and consume some. She also said that if you do consume the placenta to remember that your faeces goes to the Earth eventually too. You can read more about Janes meeting with Minmia HERE.
We chose to thank and honour the placenta by gifting it some homegrown dried flowers. Our daughter picked out some 100% cotton fabric which we wrapped the placenta in. Her and her Dad then dug a nice deep hole, buried the placenta and planted a lime tree on top. 3 years on and it is thriving.
Do you still have your childs placenta in your freezer? There are a few old wives tales from differing cultures that state that leaving your childs placenta in the freezer can contribute to them having a cold constitution and can lead to excess mucous and chest, sinus, throat issues etc. The Australian Aboriginals believe that if the placenta remains in the freezer, the child remains ‘ungrounded.’ Upon reflection, I do believe that our daughters temperament mellowed somewhat after we returned her placenta to Mamma Earth. Coincidence or not? We will never know.
If you still have your childs placenta in the freezer what better time to get it out and bury it than now?!