“Placentophagy”- to me, the “Art” of eating one’s placenta…beginning this journey almost 4 months postpartum, under the order of my acupuncturist. Eagerly anticipating this journey, not just for physical reasons, but also spiritual ones. And excited to delve into this whole world of knowledge that is basically new to me; as well, excited to be able to offer new information and services to my homebirthing clients about why and how to eat the placenta. Personally, I’ve kept my placentas to study, mostly. I’ve also done my own placenta prints (after a lotus birth that wasn’t). One of my placentas got thrown away after the birth, and the one before this got planted underneath our Christmas tree outside.
Considering that most mammals engage in the placentophagia. MY goal for the next 10 days is to observe and learn. See what I notice and what I feel; whether or not these migraines cease, whether or not I feel “better” overall in terms of energy or anything else. And whatever I notice that is unique to me, some connection to taking this organ back to where it came from. Back into my body where it originated, and open to experiencing it all I need to.
After seeing my acupuncturist 2 days ago, I’ve been gearing up for this moment, for beginning this 10 day journey. Trying to figure exactly how to go about this. The placenta from Belgium’s birth 3.5 months ago has been sitting in the freezer since then, and has even made a move from one house to another with us. I’ve “prepared” placenta for other women immediately after birth; basically sauteed, like a meat would be or in a smoothie. The challenge with mine is, the “meat” has not been separated and the placenta remains whole and intact. (And for those of you that are not birth junkies, that means some of the membranes (the “sac”) are still there, as well as the umbilical cord). Because it is a frozen mass at this point, and because I don’t want to drain in nutritionally anymore if possible, I opt to NOT defrost it first and remove all the “extras”. (I also opt to not take the time in defrosting, dehydrating and making into capsules). I ask my wonderful and obliging husband, sharp knife in hand, to attempt to cut the whole thing into about 10 pieces.
After about half an hour, my placenta is in many small parts (that I wrap individually back in plastic wrap and stick in the freezer) and there is a good deal of blood on the counter. Mental note; for clients, either make a smoothie right away, or prepare it for later smoothie or capsules. This would mean rinsing and sort of cleaning the placenta as soon after birth, and before freezing it. In the last few days, I have also picked up some good ideas online. Someone suggested freezing the cut up placenta bits along with a bit of water in an ice cube tray. Now that’s a good smoothie idea!
Now that the placenta has been cut up and portioned for the next week or so, I begin to look up recipes. I may try out a few during the run of this experiment, but for now, I focus on the fruit smoothies. In particular, the ones with strawberry. Women report not even noticing it in this form, and so I buy the necessary frozen fruit and keep reading.
Morning #1…I am nervous! Funny, I’ve gone to all this planning and prep so far and yet neglected to really think thru the actual blending part. I guess that’s 5 kids for you; but hey, isn’t that why I need this smoothie in the first place? Jason takes a few of the kids out for breakfast, and my 6 year old mastermind son, Egan, stays behind to supervise me. He keeps telling me that the food processor I have out probably isn’t going to work, but I go head and fill it with my juice, supergreen powder, frozen banana, and frozen mixed berries. I take out a placenta portion and cut off a little piece, not wanting to waste this precious thing if something goes wrong. Something goes wrong. Apparently, you can’t really blend up a smoothie in the food processor. Juice is spilling everywhere, and the fruit is still solid. To my son’s amusement, I continue to blend it, wiping up the counter as needed, until the fruit is blended. I am of course hoping that the placenta got blended too.
No such luck. Maybe, subconsciously, I really wanted to face it like this. Not disguise it, or hide it. But to meet it face-on. To have to taste it, chew it, really know it.
The smoothie itself tastes great; then I come upon a piece of “strawberry” that isn’t. It also isn’t big enough to just swallow. So, I chew it. And chew it. I’m thinking this particular piece has some membranes attached to it because it is really tough. I take a deep breath and avoid either spitting it out or gagging; breathing and reminding myself that this is PART of me, this is my blood, this is the “being” that fed my Belgium and kept her alive and healthy. But it’s really interesting; all I can think of is how iron-rich it tastes. Very dense, very red, very meaty. I finally get it down and chase it with the smoothie. Well, that wasn’t so bad, really. At this point, the rest of my piece for today is a little less frozen and I cut it up into really tiny pieces. I put a couple pieces on a spoon, dip it into the smoothie, chew a bit and swallow. The little pieces don’t seem nearly as chewy, but the taste is still the same. I almost wonder if trying to hide it behind fruit juice is really working or if it’s making it worse. For those of you that “know” placentas, you know that all placentas have a unique smell. They all smell pretty much the same, but they have a distinct placenta smell. I’d say the same about the taste. 7 hours later (as I type this), I can still very much remember the taste and feeling.
I realize the taste is part of the deal here. I’m not a vegetarian, so meat in general does not bother me. But, I realize, in a profound way, that the placenta is LIFE. And that is the difference, that is why this does not taste or feel to me like anything I have ever ingested. Sure, the animals we eat were once alive. But this “meat” existed solely to KEEP someone alive- to feed and protect my baby before she came earthside. The energy surrounding that fact is unmistakeable, it is unavoidable. I taste the life, I really, really do. It is intense, so much so that I wonder how intense it must be right after birth. However, the fact that I’ve had a bit of distance know from the birth experience makes it unusually special. (I also realize, later in the day, that this day I have chosen to begin this ritual marks the year anniversary, to the day, of becoming pregnant with Belgium).
A few more days of trial and error and by day 4, I have a decent “recipe”! I take a frozen chunk out of the freezer and let it sit for about 10 minutes. With a sharp knife, I am then able to chop it into bite size pieces. Then, I fill the blender with a cup of Knudsen Organic Very Veggie juice, the placenta pieces and a few organic frozen cherry tomatoes. I much prefer this savory smoothie over a super sweet fruit one, especially first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. I blend it up really well, and no chunks! It tastes and feels tomato-y, and the “iron rich” taste makes more sense to me in this veggie combo. I can still taste the placenta but it is no where near as intense as chewing it up by itself. It does, however, retain that LIFE energy that I think would be lost a bit with placenta capsules.
For the next 5 days or so, I prepare the veggie tomato placenta smoothie first thing in the morning. It’s pretty much the same routine-defrost, chop, blend, drink (fast, before it separates). I feel really good. It’s a strange sort of routine, but I am sad when it is over. Half serious and half jokingly, I say aloud a little goodbye and thank you (and a more serious silent prayer) as the kids look on. I feel grateful to this placenta; as I have with all my placentas. But I am definitely more attached and more intimate with this one. I am in tune with, and feel her consciousness. With the last swallow, I again thank her for feeding my baby Belgium so well and I thank her for now nurturing me. The cycle is complete as she makes her way back to that from which she has come.
So “it” has become “she”–and I do feel a profound difference. As my acupuncturist said, it is on a deep level, deep, deep inside of me I feel her strength and also a connection with birth and mothering that is indescribable. Time will tell, but 10 days with placenta and without headaches. The physical changes are apparent, but somehow this placenta journey has also led me to some profound spiritual changes as well. To much to go into here, but along with the clearing work I am focusing on, as well as the energy and acupuncture work, I have become clear on some things in my life. I know the placenta did not “cause” anything but rather refilled me a bit and connected me to the infinite life within.
A memorable journey. Thank you, dear placenta.