Editor's note: This blog was originally published on momaha.com
A pregnant friend recently told me she wasn't taking child birthing classes. The less information she knew about it, she said, the less her anxiety.
Her comment made me think of my birthing classes, especially when we watched the dreaded “birthing video.” But the disturbing part of class came after the video.
Sitting two rows down from us was a couple who I can only describe as “natural.”
The husband asked: “There is a tradition where you can take home the placenta and bury it to grow a beautiful tree from the seed of your child. Do you think it would be possible to get my wife's placenta in a jar after she passes it?”
My husband and I had never heard of this tradition, so we tried not to laugh aloud.
The teacher said it wasn't a common practice and that he would need to discuss it with the hospital.
After this experience, I researched the topic more.
For years, many cultures -- including those of Asian, Native American and African descent -- have honored the placenta because it is the only organ a human can produce and is the vessel in which your child feeds from until he or she is born.
A few phone calls to area hospitals found that while it's still rare, more families are making such requests for cultural observations and health benefits. Kathleen Scott, a certified nurse and midwife, said the Nebraska Medical Center gets one to two placenta requests a month.
Several celebrities are touting the consumption of their placenta. For instance, AMC's "Mad Men" star January Jones recently said she's been eating her placenta since her son Xander was born last September.
Parents aren't just planting placentas, they're also having them turned into vitamins for the mother to ingest for extra nutrients while breastfeeding. The new Bellevue Birthing Center offers information about a placenta pill.
My initial thought: Why not visit the vitamin aisle at the grocery store? There are some wonderful options if you are looking for an immune system boost.
Scott said you can't recreate the nutrients found in placenta. Taking a pill form, she said, could help decrease postpartum depression and increase milk supply and energy. It also helps women who are going through menopause.
Now call me old-fashioned, this is not for me. I have a firm belief that all used organs should go inside one of those red bio-hazard garbage cans – not in a jar to put on the mantle until “planting season.”
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