Ever since I posted a couple weeks ago about my midwife friend who is entertaining plans of eating her own placenta, placenta-eaters everywhere have been climbing out of the woodwork. I think I might just open a 1-800 hotline called “Placenta Confessions Anonymous” so I can collect a little cash on the side for my services, considering the number of folks who have come to me to share their riveting placental stories.
First off, I’d like to share with you a few things I have learned from all my new placenta-eating friends:
1. Placenta-eaters are everywhere. They come from all walks of life and do not have to be raging hippies in order to partake in the divine pleasures of placenta consumption. Doctors, lawyers, yoga instructors, computer programmers, Kindergarten teachers, and massage therapists alike have confessed their placenta secrets.
2. Many placenta-eaters do not eat raw or cooked placenta. They take their placentas to a Professional Placenta Dehydrator. (Believe it or not—this is a real business, people. Right here in Richardson, Texas, there is a woman who has a whole garage full of placentas-on-ice just waiting to be dehydrated.) After dehydration, the placentas are carefully encapsulated so they can be taken daily like a vitamin by their rightful owners.
3. Placenta-eaters are often shy about discussing their forays into placental. For some reason, placenta-eaters are afraid to come out of the closet and proudly proclaim the astonishing power of placenta, despite their sincere belief in its miraculous healing abilities.
4. Some placenta-eaters claim they have become “addicted” to placenta. It’s magic is so strong that one woman claims to have eaten four placentas already, including her own and several of her friends’.
That said, I would like to share one short placenta story that captured my attention. The protagonist of this story is a typical Gen X mom named Tina.
Tina is in her early thirties, a tax accountant, lover of pilates and Starbucks, pet owner, and reader of the New Yorker magazine. Certainly no raging hippie, Tina was attracted to the idea of natural childbirth because she believed it was the best thing for the baby. But she was not completely convinced she wouldn’t cave during delivery and demand a double epidural and a triple shot of Demerol/Morphine.
During her Bradley childbirth classes, she had to sit out during the videos, because she was unable to stomach the close-ups of hairy baby heads emerging out of enormous bloody vaginas.
Her husband, Tony, was also on-board with natural childbirth and other organic parenting techniques like breastfeeding and babywearing. But neither of them were particularly interested in cloth diapering, co-sleeping, elimination communication, placenta-eating or any of the other more radical organic parenting notions.
Being a first-time mom, Tina had a long labor that went on for over 30 hours. She pushed for 3 of those hours and when the baby finally emerged, she was spent. In fact, she was so exhausted that her whole body began shaking uncontrollably. Her midwife noticed her distress and said, “You know … eating the placenta could help.”
Oddly enough, at this particular moment, the idea of eating her own placenta did not in fact completely disgust her, but rather sounded a little enticing. “Really? Well … okay then,” she said tentatively. “Is Tony watching?”
The midwife checked on Tony. He was completely involved in watching the nurses work on the newborn infant. “Tony’s with the baby. He’s not even looking this direction. Are you sure you want to do this?”
Tina nodded her head up and down.
The midwife took a knife and cut a large bloody hunk off of the side of the still-warm placenta. She sliced the hunk into small pieces, placed them on a clean tray, and handed them to Tina. “You might want to just try and swallow them,” she suggested.
There was blood running down her cheeks and chin as Tina ate the placenta. It felt warm and slippery in her mouth. She felt a strong urge to gag, but at the same time, she was amazed that she was actually beginning to feel rejuvenated.
The nurse, who was watching the whole time, looked like she was going to faint. “I have never, in all my years as a nurse, witnessed anything like this,” she stammered while wiping sweat from her forehead.
“Well, there’s always a first for everything, isn’t there?” said the midwife.
“I think I’m gonna need some juice,” Tina said.
And with that, the nurse turned on her heel and walked quickly out of the room.