Does Placenta Taste Like Chicken? - Mind The Baby

Does placenta taste like chicken? And 5 other things to do with your placenta in Ireland

Tree of Life by Laura Zollar  www.laurazollar.com Does placenta taste like chicken? And 5 other things to do with your placenta in Ireland Mind The Baby Blog www.mindthebaby.ie
Tree of Life by Laura Zollar
www.laurazollar.com

The first and only time I saw my baby’s placenta was when I stood up from a kneeling position, newborn in arms, and stepped over it on the floor to get to the couch. I’ve struggled since to find the words to describe it because eloquence has failed me.

The best I can come up with is “18s“. As in “not PG“. Does that make sense?

I found it quite disturbing to look at it. It was so real, alive, vital. So grown up and serious looking. Even now, looking at pictures of them makes me catch my breathe. When my midwife asked me if I’d thought about what I’d like to do with my placenta, I honestly answered “no”. She offered to take it away, I agreed. No further discussion took place.

I think my reaction was understandable. In reality, very few women get to see their placenta at all. It’s often whisked away after delivery to be examined by the medical team and then incinerated. A placenta is not something that you see every day and even if it was, there’s no denying it’s a serious looking, blood rich, veiny, deep coloured structure and it’s easy to see where it gets the moniker “tree of life”.  Of course it has to be. Placentas are such a miracle of an organ – life giving, sustaining, nourishing. Something that does such important, serious, miraculous work will most certainly look the part.

It’s only in recent months that I’ve become aware of the breadth of options available for your post partum placenta. I’ll be honest, some of them are just not for me but others, I’d definitely consider:

1. You can eat it.

It is possible to eat your placenta either raw or cooked. You can fry it up with some onions and eat it that way or you can cut up small slivers and mix it with fruit and yoghurt for a placenta smoothie. Eating your placenta is associated with reduced instances of post natal depression, an abundant milk supply, increased energy levels and minimising post partum blood loss. There is very little evidence-based research to support these claims at the moment but if a woman feels any of the above benefits after consuming her placenta, whether it is a placebo effect or not, then it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t. Dried placenta is also used in Chinese herbal medicine to treat fertility, impotence, asthma and correcting imbalances in the body.

Incidentally, women who choose to eat their placenta in this way report that when consumed in smoothie form it’s virtually or completely indistingishable from the rest of the smoothie. When it’s cooked with onions it tastes similar to liver, which answers the question in my blog title: no, it does not taste like chicken.

Given the opportunity again, I personally wouldn’t go for this option but i can certainly see why many others would.

2.  You can encapsulate it.

Encapsulation is the process of steaming and dehydrating your placenta and then grinding it into a powder to place in capsules. These can then be taken like any other vitamin. The benefits reported are the same as eating the placenta as above. There are a number of encapsulation services around Ireland that can do this for you or you can order an encapsulation kit online if you’d prefer to do it yourself. I am squeamish at the best of times and having recently watched this process on TV, I wouldn’t ask a loved one to do this for me for the joy of it. However it’s definitely something I’d be prepared to pay someone else to do. Apparently one placenta can make approximately 100 capsules which can be consumed in the few weeks after birth or stored for use during the menopause. Now this I like the sound of!

3. You can donate your placenta to a K9 search unit

This was a totally new one on me I have to say but it makes perfect sense. Human remains detection K9 units use dogs to track and retrieve the remains of missing persons.  The natural scent of your placenta will help train a dog to obtain a wide spectrum scent source and help recover those who are lost, missing and have disappeared. A noble use for your placenta if ever there was one. More details are available here at the Laois Civil Defence K9 Unit Facebook page.

4. You can bury it and plant a tree over it.

This is a lovely symbolic gesture to mark the birth of your children I think. The only downside is if you ever have to move house, you’ll have to leave your tree behind. Remember also you have to plant your placenta several feet underground so that animals cannot dig it up.

5. You can make a piece of art with it

You can make a print of your placenta on card to be framed and displayed at a later date or some placenta service providers will also do this for you. Google is your friend here.

6. You can have it incinerated

This is the default option really. If you’ve had a baby in hospital, staff will automatically send it for incineration if you specifically request to keep it. Don’t worry about them saying no. It is yours after all so they have to give it to you, unless there’s a medical reason that they need to keep it for. It might be worth enquiring with your caregiver before the event just to have the conversation.

So there you have it – 6 options for your placenta. I’m sure there are probably others. If you don’t want to decide straight away what to do with it, you can freeze it while you make up your mind.

I would definitely consider encapsulation or donation to the K9 unit if there were a next time. I don’t have the stomach to either prepare or eat it fresh. Our garden is too small for planting trees and I’m sure Pip would also feel left out if he didn’t have one. I can appreciate the art but I don’t get it myself. And I’ve already done number 6 🙂

What would you do?

30 thoughts on “Does placenta taste like chicken? And 5 other things to do with your placenta in Ireland”

  1. My first placenta was whisked away, but with the second, the midwife asked would I like to see it, and she showed it to us. It was fascinating to see my only disposable organ, and an organ is really what it looked like – I think it reminded me of a liver. I didn’t keep it, but now I almost wish I’d taken a photo.

    I have a friend who wanted to plant a tree on (/in?) hers but didn’t feel she was living anywhere permanent enough yet. She ended up keeping two placentas in the deep freeze for a few years, and finally her parents offered to plant two trees in their garden, so that’s where they ended up. She was happy to finally send them to their intended destination.

    Given the research, though, it sounds like eating it really is a great option. I think I’d go the encapsulation route to minimize squick factor, though. I’m not quite ready for placenta paté yet.

    1. Well placenta pate almost sounds lovely when you put it like that. One some fresh, crusty baguette maybe? I think I could give that a lash. I do like liver. It’s the preparation that’s the issue for me. The squick factor, as you call it.
      Ah, that’s lovely that your friends’ parents made that offer. I’d say it’s lovely to go and see them when they’re visiting. There’s something nice about the generational link.

  2. Brilliant post. I did all of the above except number 3 (donate it). But I have had 3 placentas to choose from. I got more hippy with it as time went on, so the 3rd I actually had a yummy placenta smoothie and then encapsulated the rest! The house did stink a bit odd for a while after reducing my once internal organ to dust!
    PS When we planted my second under a bush in the garden it died! Too rich for it methinks!

      1. I’m not sure if it worked the way it was supposed to. My recovery was slow the third time but I’d had the hardest labour, the biggest baby, the nastiest tear and I was quite anemic, so yeah it probably did help – maybe I would have been a total basket case had I not had placenta pie, who knows! x

  3. I have done 1 and 4. On my first my doula fried it up into a stir fry with Quorn pieces (is it ironic that I don’t eat meat!!!), and I have to say the dish was delicious!!! I loved it, and was one of the nicest meals I have ever eaten (she is a brilliant cook which helps I guess). My boss had called to visit to congratulate us at the time and was asking what was the dinner – needless to say I didn’t mention the placenta bit!!! The placenta is huge so I only ate some of it and we buried the rest and like Amy ‘s experience our tree died (we planted it under an apple tree – the tree that didn’t get a placenta under it flourished!!!). On my second my doula (same one) cooked another delicious meal and the rest of the placenta is taking up a lot of space in my freezer much to my husband’s annoyance. Every few months he grumbles about it and asks me to do something with it – but what!!! I’m afraid to plant it under another tree in case it kills it again. I was hoping to use it to learn how to enscapsulate placenta’s but I actually don’t think this is something I would like to do (still reserving judgement until I see how it is all done). Maybe this is the year we will do something with it! Oh and I like to think it helped me recover. My big fear was getting postnatal depression and I didn’t so maybe it helped????

    1. Wow, so interesting! Maybe there’s something more to the tree/placenta thing I wonder? Like an optimum plant that would thrive on the nutrient-rich placenta?
      I understand the avoidance aspect of consuming it especially with something so debilitating like postnatal depression. I’d be with you, if I took the placenta and didn’t get pnd, even if I couldn’t prove the link, I also couldn’t prove it didn’t work! I feel the same about all the preparations I did during pregnancy and for labour. I can’t prove if pregnancy yoga, aquanatal aerobics, gentlebirth or raspberry leaf tea were responsible for my positive experience but I tell you what, I wouldn’t be dropping any of them next time around…
      Did you see the segment on TV3 a few weeks ago where they prepared the placenta for smoothie and encapsulation Birthingmamas? Might be worth a look:

      1. Thanks a mill to the link for making the smoothies mind the baby. I don’t know whether I would have the stomach for doing it tbh esp after seeing that. I also don’t think I could drink a smoothie – it’s the thought of the raw meat. Makes me gag a bit (I don’t eat meat usually). It was easier eating mine knowing it was cooked (but I can see why that sounds a bit gross as well!!!). Thanks also for the link to the tree burying. Maybe this summer we will get around to doing something with it. I think I would like to use it to try enscapulation to see if it is something I could handle. I have friends who do it and they have told me they will show me how so will see. If not I think we will plant it in a pot with soil for the year and try plant a tree next year. Really interesting conversation

        1. I was just telling my husband the same thing – “there’s a really cool conversation about placentas happening on my blog today. It’s deadly” 🙂 Thanks for the brilliant insights x

  4. Hey birthingmamas, I didn’t realise you still had some placenta left! How about making some placenta flapjacks and we’ll all come over and have them with a dose of wine to disguise any strange flavours? x

  5. Ladies, your comments about the dying trees sent me off on a mission to find out why it might have happened!

    I’ve found suggestions that the placenta needs to be buried really deep because if the roots of the tree touch the placenta or even come to close then the high nutrient content of the placenta could burn the roots (like too much fertiliser). Other suggestions are to either bury the placenta near the tree rather than under it so that the placenta can break down and nutrients leech into the soil that way; or to bury the placenta first, and a year later plant the tree so that the nutrients well mixed with the soil. What do you reckon?

    Other readers might be interested in this link:
    Instructions for planting your tree:
    http://www.birthtoearth.com/FAQs/Instructions.html

  6. Interesting post! I’m currently living in the US and due to give birth next week. I’m having mine encapsulated largely based on anecdotal evidence suggesting it will help with recovery. Well, it can’t hurt! I remember watching my pony eat hers as a child. Shudder. I’ll let you know how I get on…

  7. Really interesting post and interesting replies too – I think I would have done encapsulation if I knew about it but I’ve had my three babies now so too late… Most of what I know about the most interesting aspects of birth and babies came from my post-baby-#3 facebook and twitter addition 🙂 Wisdome to pass to my kids I guess… I wonder what will be mainstream by the time this generation are having their babies?

    1. I wonder too office mum. Although our generation are the first to have all these online records of our mothering experiences. Will the next generations read are blogs and think a) oh my, they had it so backwards then! and b) they really were trying their best!

  8. what i did —
    i made a tincture with it — it’s infusing at the moment. with this i can keep the mother tincture, and then create a remedy with it for myself and my son. this will last indefinitely.

    i dehydrated some of it and ground it up–
    some of that ground up placenta will be mixed with ground up plants that are meaningful to me in this pregnancy- this will be used as a gratitude offering and setting intentions. it, the placenta- nourishing these dreams, goals, etc.

    i am going to take some of the ground up placenta to make into a healing placenta salve

    i dried the umbilical cord in a spiral– it is my son’s talisman. it will be held in a special leather pouch that i will sew together and embroider with the red thread wrapped around my wrist from my blessingway ceremony. the talisman will be given to him when he is a man- it is an old tradition in many cultures that provides protection, prosperity, good health and fortune etc to the child.


    a really beautiful book to read about it is Placenta- The Forgotten Chakra, by Robin Lim.

  9. I did get to see my placenta and was shocked by the size of it, not surprised it tastes like liver because it looked like a really large one to me!

    Another use for your placenta is to preserve it for stem cells in case your child every needed them in the future, I’m sorry I didn’t think of this when I had my three.

    Really lovely post, Thank you!

    1. That’s really interesting about the stem cell preservation Naomi. How do you go about that, is it a private service?

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  11. Greetings from London, England, ladies! I’m a guy btw…

    I got here after my cat gave birth to five kittens today (and I wanted to know more about the afterbirths), and immediately and instinctively after each birth, she ate each placenta and chewed off the umbilical cord. Bravo to her on her first litter of kittens and the instinctive nature animals have.
    If I was a woman about to give birth, I’d give anything a go, i.e. I’d eat the placenta pronto. Probably chop it up, freeze it all and smoothie each portion when needed.
    I like the idea of the tree thing too; though just wasting it by incineration just seems so ridiculous after witnessing my cat chowing on her’s.
    Good luck to you all and happy and healthy lives for you and your children!

    1. Btw I’ve really enjoyed reading all your posts! Just love how honest, open and accepting you all are here!

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