The placenta is an organ designed to leave the body. Fully, and in tact. Can you imagine if your kidneys, on their own, just left the body? Once given the signals, the placenta, or after-birth, releases itself from the woman’s uterus, literally to be born. If someone gives birth to her child, she also gives birth to her placenta.
Besides camels, we are the only land mammals that do not regularly eat our placenta. In a mainstream culture where the sanitized is favored over the raw, and where 98% of women birth within a system that considers it medical waste, our re-membering of who we are is really at hand.
Placenta is gold! This recipe is jam-packed with nutrients: iron, vitamins including B-12, minerals, and various hormones such as oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’. Ingesting placenta also supports milk supply and breastfeeding.
Mystically, the veins on the baby side are shaped as a tree. Many spiritual traditions reference a tree, or the Tree of Life, as part of their cosmology. Placenta can be read, like tea leaves, or Tarot. That which is most wild, most “out there”, is actually what is innate to us, common, and natural: most “in here”. None of us could be here without it. Without placenta, we would not grow in the mother’s womb. In Hebrew, one of our ancient languages, the word for placenta is שִׁלְיָה, shilya, which is spelled the same as shelya, meaning Of God.
There are many traditions around the placenta. Some cultures historically have made ceremony with placenta, or medicine. Others have eaten it raw, or made a stew. Some have included a burial ceremony. Other options American women currently use are smoothies, tincture, homeopathic, or requesting encapsulation. Women have reported that eating placenta has supported them immensely with post-partum in terms of energy level, mood, and internal support for an extremely transitional time.
I have great reverence for this organ that continues to pulse and live even after it is released from the body. My experience with her is that she is alive. By beginning to see the power and potency in placenta, we can begin to feel the power and potency in ourselves.
Batya Friedland, MA, is an ordained chaplain, Jewish ritual artist, doula, and midwifery student. She offers placenta preparation, as well as workshops and retreats on Jewish Meditation, Direct Torah study, and Hebrew prayer.
Batya lives in Oakland, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.