What to Do With a Placenta?

“How would you like us to prepare your placenta?” My midwife asked as I grew closer and closer to delivering my first daughter.

Let me back up. Never did I intend to have a midwife. Nor did I have any desire to birth my babies at home. Was I even going to have children at all? And I most certainly did NOT have any idea how to “prepare a placenta.”

Growing up, every so often I’d hear a crazy story about some crazy woman who turned her placenta into a smoothie, or a lasagna, or truffles (?!)…and then she’d consume said placenta. Of course, they were outlandish stories. No one in her right mind would do such a thing. Everyone knows an ejected placenta is the hospital’s problem, not yours. Right?

Yet, here I was; being asked if I wanted to have my midwife fry up my placenta for breakfast.

So. Many. Questions.

To start, I’m vegetarian. Have been for my entire adult life. Is one’s own organ considered meat? Sounds a little more like cannibalism honestly. I don’t think that lines up with a vegetarian lifestyle.

BUT, that was the way I used to think. Before I decided I actually did want to have my babies at home. Before I became one of those crazy ladies myself (I blame the pregnancy hormones). I’ll tell you what: a lot goes on in your mind between the process of thinking you’re going to have an epidural hospital birth to choosing a no-drugs-available home birth. And one of those processes is starting to believe that maybe eating your own placenta actually does make sense.

I mean, it’s a temporary organ that creates itself just for your baby! It supplies ALL the nutrients and oxygen to your baby in utero. If that’s not a source of power, what is? It’s even been scientifically proven to increase milk supply, boost mood and energy levels, and provide increased nutrition to a postpartum mama.

Yes! I decided. Yes, I wanted to eat my placenta. Only, I couldn’t stomach the idea of downing a placenta pizza. My midwife said she could dehydrate it and turn it into pills. Perfect.

There they are… in a pickle jar. As if that makes them any more appetizing

Turns out, it wasn’t so perfect. I couldn’t stomach it. They tasted weird.

“It’s in your head,” my husband said.

So, I made him try one. He pretended not to gag.

I put my jar of placenta in the back corner of the medicine cabinet, never to be seen again.

Until my second daughter was born. My midwife presented the same question, and, feeling like I’d be judged for all eternity if I told her to just throw the placenta away, I asked if we could freeze it. That way, when spring came, I could bring it out and plant it with a tree or something. Much better than putting it back in my own body.

Two years after that, my third daughter was born. Her placenta got wrapped up, and placed in the freezer right next to her sister’s placenta which was still in there. Not to mention the jar of placenta pills that had been hiding in my cabinet for four years and counting. I guess planting a new tree hasn’t been too high on my priority list?

I kept telling myself to do something with those chunks of meat — I really shouldn’t have three placentas just lying around my house, should I? I’d rather not share the number of times guests would come over with ice cream or whatever and I’d have to discreetly shove the placentas out of the way to make room.

Well, it all came to a head last week when my freezer broke. Everything had to come out…including the placentas. We transferred as much as we could to a cooler, but a cooler can only act like a freezer for so long. In time, everything had to be trashed.

Only, I couldn’t bring myself to just trash my placentas. After now nine (yes nine) years of having their holy, totally creepy, presence in my house, I couldn’t say goodbye to them. They’re a part of me. I’m a part of them. See? Creepy.

That was last week. Did I plant a tree? Nope. Did I hold some sort of spiritual ceremony for them? Fat chance. What I did do is leave them in that cooler to defrost and rot even more…

this thing haunts me in my sleep

My freezer finally got fixed today and I don’t dare open up the cooler for fear I’ll pass out. And so, it looks like we now have a permanent “placenta cooler” on our back patio.

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Chelsea Walker Flagg

Mama, author, singer, and lover of all things random. Not afraid to drink pickle juice straight out of the jar