Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Birth’ Category

This is a guest blog by Helen Potter.

There are several reasons why a woman may have a caesarean section. A planned section may be scheduled because of the position or health of the baby, the mother’s medical history or at her request if she has had a previous, traumatic vaginal birth. An emergency section usually occurs because complications have arisen during natural labour. A ceasarean section is a major operation that requires incisions through the abdomen and uterus and so the significant recovery period is well accepted by medical professionals and society in general. However, the emotional after effects of this type of birth remain less acknowledged and far less discussed. The silence and stigma surrounding mental health after a c-section can be detrimental to new mothers who’ve not only just been through major surgery, but now have a newborn baby to care for too. Here are just a few of the emotional issues that may arise following a c-section.

Shock

It’s extremely common for the body to go into shock immediately after the surgery is carried out. Many women report shaking from head to toe as medication from the epidural and affect the muscles. But further on into the recovery process many women experience delayed shock, especially when the c-section was carried out in emergency circumstances. They spend so long preparing for their labour, writing birth plans and building up expectations so when things don’t go to plan it can be a huge surprise. Using a debriefing service following a c-section can be a good way to come to terms with the experience and understand why it had to happen.

Guilt

A study carried out by Channel Mum found that one in five mothers said that opting for a ceasarean would mean that they’d ‘failed’ and with that sense of failure undoubtedly follows feelings of guilt. Outdated social views can lead to women believing that a drug-free, natural labour is the most honourable way to give birth. Some women even report that having a caesarean has made them to feel like less of a woman and less of a mother. Of course this is untrue and all that really matters in labour is that mother and baby both come through the process safely.

Post natal depression

Although all women who go through childbirth are at risk from postnatal depression, studies show that women who have an emergency caesarean are up to six times more likely to suffer from the condition. The longer recovery period and feelings of guilt, failure and lack of control over their own body are all thought to contribute to this, alongside the hormonal changes that all new mums face. It’ is important to speak to a health visitor or GP if you think you could be suffering from postnatal depression. Self help advice, medication and therapy can all help to alleviate the symptoms.

Trouble bonding

Some women report that they have struggled to bond with their babies following a caesarean section. There are several theories for this. Biologically, research indicates that they miss out on the release of the hormone oxytocin (otherwise known as the love hormone). Immediately after natural childbirth the release of this hormone is higher than ever and missing out it can impair the initial bonding process. In addition to this, skin to skin contact (vital for developing early closeness and bonding) is rarely possible straight after a c-section and in many cases the baby is taken away and checked over while the mother recovers. On a more practical level, the long recovery process can sometimes render a new mum unable to carry out day to day care of the child which can make her feel disengaged from her new baby.

Fear of future pregnancy

Sometimes all of these factors combined, along with the physical pain of a c-section, can make women so fearful of a repeat performance that they choose not to become pregnant again. Of course this can be a devastating choice for a woman who really wants another baby. After a c-section, the probability of a natural birth next time is good – research indicates 60-80% of women can potentially go on to have a vaginal birth after a ceasarean (VBAC). But there are risks and these, alongside the fear of another c-section, can be enough to put some women off for life. If you feel like this but still long to expand your family it is important to talk to your GP or debriefing service to familiarise yourself with all of the facts so that you can make an informed choice.

Citation Section

NHS Choices, Ceasarean section, accessed 25.02.16

Metro, Thousands of women with postnatal depression suffering in silence, accessed 25.02.16

The Royal College of Midwives, What is the purpose of debriefing women in the postnatal period, accessed 25.02.16

The Daily Mail, The women made to feel guilty because they didn’t have a ‘perfect’ drug free birth, accessed 25.02.16

NCBI, Increased risk of postnatal depression after emergency ceasarean section, accessed 25.02.16

Psychguides, Living with postpartum depression, accessed 25.02.16

Mail Online, Women who have ceasarean section ‘less likely to bond,’ accessed 25.02.16

Mayoclinic, Vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), accessed 25.02.16

Pregnancy

“The condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body.”
“The process by which a human female carries a live offspring from conception until childbirth.”

Pregnancy is referred to as a gestation period – the time between conception and birth. Approximately 40 weeks (280 days). Measured from the first day of the last menstrual period. For women who use a procedure that allows them to know the exact date of conception (such as in-vitro fertilisation IVF, or artificial insemination) the gestation period is 38 weeks (266 days) from conception.

Pregnancy is divided into three stages – called trimesters, each lasting about 3 months.

An embryo is a multicellular diploid (has two sets of chromosomes) eukaryote (an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes) in its earliest stage of development; from the time of first cell division until birth. In humans, it is called an embryo until about eight weeks after fertilization (i.e. ten weeks after the last menstrual period or LMP), and from then it is instead called a fetus.
Embryo is the term used to describe the developing baby in the first 8 weeks and the term Fetus is the term used after 8 weeks until birth (when all the structure of the baby and systems of the body such as the digestive and nervous systems have developed).

Facts at 24 weeks
24 weeks is the legal cut off gestational age for a legal abortion (although abortions or terminations can be carried out later in the pregnancy on medical grounds).

COMPLICATIONS OF PREMATURE BIRTH
Babies born after 34 weeks have a low risk of problems although they are sometime slower to feed.
A baby born before 33 weeks will have more serious problems such as immature lungs.
Very premature babies (born under 28 weeks) need to be delivered in a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit.
Doctors have been able to improve dramatically the survival hopes for babies born as early as 22 or 23 weeks.
However, very premature babies face a huge battle at the start of life. They are at risk of serious conditions including:
* Hypothermia, due to lower levels of fat
* Low blood glucose, which can lead to brain damage
* Respiratory distress syndrome – which can cause blindness
* Brain haemorrhage
Long-term they may have cerebral palsy and have sight and hearing problems.
They are also more likely to have motor impairments and co-ordination and concentration problems.

Birth
Occurs at around 38 weeks after fertilization, so 40 weeks pregnant. Term is considered to be 37 – 42 weeks gestation. The fetus has developed enough to survive easily outside its mother’s body. Babies are usually born head first but occasionally are born breech.

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/v1027487/inside-pregnancy-weeks-28-37

There are a variety of birthing methods; the majority of babies are born by a natural vaginal birth but some labours might need help such as
Ventouse, Forceps, Caesarean section.

The process of natural birth involves what is known as “labour” the baby passing from the mother’s abdomen through the vaginal passage and into the world. There are three stages of labour:

Stage 1: The cervix has to open and stretch around the baby’s head until it is 10cm open.

Stage 2: The baby has to come out, either by the expulsive efforts of the uterus and the mother breathing the baby out, or by her actively pushing the baby out.

Stage 3: The placenta or afterbirth has to be expelled.

Linked blog posts:

https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/so-you-are-pregnant-preparing-for-the-birth/
https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/the-big-day-the-birth/

Following the recent screening of “Freedom for Birth” a film documentary discussing the plight of maternity services and midwifery world-wide I have put together an Action Plan of ideas that you may like to consider to support the midwives and maternity services.  Please do as much as you can to make things better for women today and our daughters in the future.

ACTION PLAN

Please consider joining the following Facebook groups:

Independent Midwives UK

Fighting for Independent Midwives

The Birth I Want

ARM Conference 2012

One Born Every Minute—The Truth

One World Birth

Human Rights in Childbirth

Face of Birth

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Podpora-pro-%C3%81gnes-Ger%C3%A9b-Support-for-%C3%81gnes-Ger%C3%A9b/139577179421729?v=wall

Websites:

The Birth I Want:

http://www.thebirthiwant.org.uk

Register an Interest in Independent Midwifery at:

http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/

The Association of Radical Midwives—Midwifery Matters:

http://www.midwifery.org.uk/

The Association for Improvement in Maternity

Services:

http://www.aims.org.uk/

The Face of Birth

www.faceofbirth.com

Sign the petitions:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/amnesty-international-europe-amnesty-international-to-save-persecuted-midwives-in-europe?utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=4998292

http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/choice-for-mothers-to-be-saves-nhs-money

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34513

 

View the short version of “Freedom for Birth” available November 2012

Write a letter of support for Agnes to President of Hungary, János Áder ugyfelkapu@keh.hu

 

On Thursday 20th September women (and men) around the world will be hosting film screenings to raise the profile of midwifery.  I am joining this event because I passionately believe that women are entitled to better maternity care.

Everyone in the UK knows that our maternity services are in crisis and indeed the Royal College of Midwives has strongly stated this.

I am planning to take a break from midwifery as I am totally burnt out … this is partly the demands of being on-call 24/7 for the past 8 years, but it is also due to the increasing scrutiny, red tape  and pressures on midwives.  I believe that most midwives do their very best for women.  Of course there are some rouge practitioners and the public needs to be protected against them, but the pressures on midwives are immense; more paperwork, more investigations of our practice, pressures of working with a system that is barely fit for purpose ….

At the same time Independent Midwifery, which gives “gold standard” care is set to become illegal unless an eleventh hour solution can be found to provide us with Professional Indemnity Insurance which will become mandatory from October 2013.

What will happen to these highly skilled midwives and the clients they currently care for?  I’m afraid that I feel ground down and beaten by all that is currently happening in midwifery … it is so sad, midwifery and childbirth has been my passion and my life for the past 20 years!

So, as my swan song to midwifery (for now at least) I am hosting this film showing in Milton Keynes and I hope this will serve to raise the profile of midwifery and to mobilise women to demand the service they deserve.

FREEDOM FOR BIRTH FILM SCREENING Thursday 20th September 2012 Two showings, 1pm and 7pm

The Bee House

Interchange House

Howard Way

Newport Pagnell

MK16 9PX

  • Entrance by donation – suggested donation £5 (Any profits to be donated to Midwifery Campaign)
  • Refreshments available at the venue
  • Birth related Exhibition and discussion after film showing

ALL WELCOME – please advertise widely! Please print and display the attached poster

For further information & to book a seat please email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

FREEDOM FOR BIRTH – GLOBAL FILM LAUNCHA new documentary that reframes childbirth as the most pressing global Human Rights issue today is launching with hundreds of premieres all over the world on the same day, Thursday 20th September 2012.

Freedom For Birth is a 60 minute campaigning documentary featuring a Who’s Who of leading birth experts and international Human Rights lawyers all calling for radical change to the world’s maternity systems.

Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser of the recent Human Rights in Childbirth Conference at the Hague, the Netherlands says, “the way that childbirth is being managed in many countries around the world is deeply problematic. Millions of pregnant women are pushed into hospitals, pushed onto their back and cut open. They are subject to unnecessary pharmaceutical and surgical interventions that their care providers openly admit to imposing on them for reasons of finance and convenience. Women around the world are waking up to the fact that childbirth doesn’t have to be like this and it shouldn’t. Disrespect and abuse are not the necessary price of safety”.

Made by British filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Freedom For Birth film tells the story of an Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb who has been jailed for supporting women giving birth at home. One of the home birth mothers supported by Ms Gereb decided to take a stand.

When pregnant with her second child, Anna Ternovsky took her country to the European Court of Human Rights and won a landmark case that has major implications for childbirth around the world.

Toni Harman, one of the filmmakers says, “the Ternovsky vs Hungary ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 means that now in Europe, every birthing woman has the legal right to decide where and how she gives birth. And across the world, it means that if a woman feels like her Human Rights are being violated because her birth choices are not being fully supported, she could use the power of the law to protect those rights. With the release of “Freedom For Birth”, we hope millions of women become aware of their legal rights and so our film has the potential to spark a revolution in maternity care across the world. In fact, we are calling this the Mothers’ Revolution.”

Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), says: “A safe childbirth should be a fundamental human right for women. Sadly, for many, many millions of women and their babies across the world this is not the case. The world is desperately short of the people who can help to ensure and deliver this human right; midwives. There is a real need for leaders of nations to invest in midwifery care in their countries. I hope that the making of this film which the RCM is supporting with a screening will go a long way to help make skilled maternity care a reality for those women who currently do not have access to it.”

Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives adds, “Too many women across the world are dying or suffering terribly because of a lack of skilled maternity care. This is unacceptable and I call on all Governments across the world to give women the right and access to safe care in pregnancy and childbirth.”

Ms. Hayes-Klein concludes, “Freedom For Birth” holds the answer to changing the system. Birth will change when women realise they have a right to meaningful support for childbirth and claim that right. Birth will change when women stand up against the abuses that are currently suffered in such high numbers and say, No More.”

The filmmakers are aiming for 1,000 screenings happening across the world on Thursday 20th September, 2012. The countries with confirmed screenings include the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Belgium, Hungary, Israel, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Panama, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, China, South Africa and India.

Each screening is being organised by local birth campaigners.

Freedom For Birth is Harman and Wakeford’s third documentary film about birth. They were inspired to make films about following their own difficult birth of their daughter four years ago. A cascade of interventions in their birth led to an emergency caesarean section.

Contact Information:

Toni Harman, Producer/Director, Freedom For Birth info@altofilms.com +44 (0) 1273 747837

Optimal Fetal Positioning (OFP) – Encouraging your baby into the best position for birth.  How and why? (including quotes from local independent midwife Valerie Gommon)

The best position for birth is when the baby’s head is down and facing the mothers back and baby’s spine is to the left of your navel (known as left anterior/lateral position).  In this position the baby can pass most easily through the mothers pelvis.  This will ensure a quicker and easier delivery.

Towards the end of pregnancy it is advisable not to slump back on the sofa as gravity will encourage your baby’s  spine (the heaviest part of her body) to swing back towards yours!  Instead, remember the good posture you have worked so hard to develop during your pregnancy yoga classes!  This will gently tilt your pelvis forwards, as well as maximise the space your baby has to move around in.  Whenever possible lean forwards to rest e.g over a yoga ball, table or legs wide over a backwards facing chair.  As in our yoga classes, remember to use cushions to allow your hips to be level or higher than your knees when sitting.  Use cat pose when ever you have a moment.  Valerie also suggests: “getting  onto your hands and knees to wash the kitchen floor or play with your toddler!” or just enjoy moving with your breath!
Another suggestion is that you “lie on your left side on the sofa with your belly hanging slightly over the edge – a nice relaxing way of encouraging your baby into the best position!” (Valerie Gommon).
However, do keep things in perspective if hoping to turn your baby…be comfortable, stay active and above all enjoy your pregnancy.
Remember babies can decide to turn right up to the last minute and some babies are just happy where they are whatever plans you might have for them!!
Sarah Cooper.

Very sadly it looks fairly certain that Independent Midwifery will end in October 2013.  The Government and Nursing and Midwifery Council have for a long time been recommending that Independent Midwives should have professional indemnity insurance (negligence insurance) despite it not being commercially available in the marketplace i.e. insurers do not provide this insurance for midwives.  You can read more about the current situation here http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=11615

An E.U. Directive is now due to come into force to implement this change and our current information is that it will be illegal for us to practice without professional indemnity insurance from October 2013.  This means that women will be denied the choice of choosing an Independent Midwife and we will be denied the choice of working independently and will be forced to stop practising or to return into the NHS.

The Independent Midwives UK organisation has been working tirelessly for years to find a solution and it is just possible that an eleventh hour solution will be found but this is now looking unlikely.

A group of midwives have formed an organisation called Neighbourhood Midwives www.neighbourhoodmidwives.org.uk/ and are working towards setting up an employee-owned social enterprise organization, to provide an NHS commissioned caseload midwifery homebirth service, based in the local community.  This may prove to be a workable alternative to Independent Midwifery but at present (if it comes to fruition) the service will only be able to accept “low-risk” women and this is of concern to all of us who have supported women with more complex situations, for example first time mothers, vaginal birth after a previous caesarean, twins, breech birth and women who are not deemed “low risk”.  The aim of Neighbourhood Midwives will be to extend their remit to include more women as soon as possible.

There is already a precedent for this type of care as One to One Midwives in Liverpool www.onetoonemidwives.org have already managed to set up a caseloading midwifery service (similar to independent midwifery in that a woman will care for a caseload of women throughout the whole of the pregnancy, birth and postnatal period) within the NHS.

It is a very sad time for midwifery and for women’s choice, but perhaps good things will come out of it, I certainly hope so.

I was recently asked a question about painful stitches/perineum after childbirth  and thought it would be useful to share my reply.

I’m not so sure you were told all this! You *should* have been, but sometimes things get missed in the busy hurly burly of hospitals!
Okay, so the pain … I take it this is when you wee? This may well have passed by now? This can be eased by weeing in the bath or shower or by pouring water from a bottle of jug over yourself as you pass urine. The pain gradually lessens but it should already have started to improve. If it is getting worse then you definitely need to get your midwife to check you out.

Don’t know whether you have opened your bowels yet, or if this is what you are referring too? Women are naturally worried about the first time after stitches. I usually suggest that if a woman is anxious that she might like to support the perineum (the stitched area) with some toilet paper when she goes to the loo. This is mostly a psychological prop, but … if it works … it will be fine I promise! Just make sure you drink plenty of fluids (this will also help dilute the urine) and eat so that you don’t get constipated.

Regarding the bleeding, it is normal to bleed for several weeks after having a baby. Again, the bleeding quickly lessens and will often stop only to start again … it is not unusual to bleed on and off for somewhere between 2 – 6 weeks after having a baby.

Your midwife will be very happy to have a look at your stitches and will usually ask you if you are comfortable or not. If you are unsure definitely ask her to look as occasionally they can become infected and need treatment.

Hope you soon feel more comfortable … in the meantime enjoy your new baby.

I have to say that I have never been a fan of Gina Ford.  Although I haven’t read her book “The contented little baby” from cover to cover, I’ve read enough to know that I completely disagree with her ideas of strict routines, indeed I wonder how any mother could cope with doing anything else if she followed Ms Ford’s advice as every moment of the day and night appears to be mapped out!

I was very interested in a parenting programme that was on TV a year or so ago which followed three couples who followed various styles of parenting; there was a couple who adopted a very strict time scheduled routine, a middle way and those who adopted an attachment style of parenting.  I was not surprised to learn that the couple who practised attachment parenting were the ones who got the most sleep!  Whilst I appreciate that this may not be for everybody, I think it is important for parents to know that they should listen to their instincts and parent in the way that makes them feel most comfortable and that they don’t have to listen to the “so-called” experts.

Back to Gina Ford, in her new book “The contented mother’s guide” she apparently is advising women that they should resume marital relations within four to six weeks after the birth.  Well, as a mother and a midwife I KNOW this will not be for everyone and indeed in some circumstances this could be positively dangerous and harmful.

As a midwife, women have sometimes shared their stories with me and I have known women who resume sexual relations within days of childbirth and I also know that there are women who wait a year (or more).  What is right for women couple will not be for another and you should follow your own instinct and not listen to a woman who has not had children herself!

For further information see https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/sex-after-birth/

A guest blog written by Moira D’Arcy, Women’s Health Physiotherapist at St Judes Clinic, Leighton Buzzard.

Protecting Your Back During Pregnancy

During pregnancy changes in your body can affect your back and your posture.  As the weeks pass your weight is no longer centred in the middle of your pelvis but moves forward with the weight of the growing baby.  For most women their posture adapts to compensate for this shift and you may find yourself either slumping forward and flattening out the curve in your low back, or counter balancing the weight by leaning back, at your upper body, which leads to a greater curve and a shift of your weight on to your heels.  The muscles of your back, lower abdomen and your pelvic floor are designed to move and stabilise the joints in your back and pelvis but as your baby grows they are put under more potential strain.  This, along with the adaptations you may make to your changing shape, combined with hormonal (hormones are chemicals that carry messages around your body) changes that loosen the ligaments around the pelvis, can result in low back pain, upper back pain, pubic bone discomfort and general postural strain.

What can you do to reduce those risks?

Stand Tall – imagine that someone is making you feel taller by pulling a string attached at the back and top of your head at the same time as you tightening your tummy muscles and pelvic floor as much as you are able.

Sit Correctly
– make sure your back is well supported. You may prefer a dining chair to a soft chair or sofa.  Placing a small rolled up towel in the hollow of your back may help if you are finding your back is adopting a flattened posture.

Avoid Heavy Lifting
– Your loosened ligaments make them vulnerable so ask for help whenever possible.  If you do have to lift, make sure you hold the object close to your body, and bend your knees rather than your back.  If you are shopping divide your goods into equal loads for each hand.

Wear Comfortable Shoes
– Generally, if you are finding the curve in your low back increasing, flat shoes may be more comfortable as heels will accentuate the curve.

Adapt The Way You Carry Out Your Chores
– eg when vacuuming stand in a walking position, with the Hoover in front of you, then move your feet to the next area and Hoover in front of you again.  Don’t be tempted to push it so far away from your body that you end up bending and twisting your back.

Exercise Regularly
– but unfamiliar routines may damage the joints that loosen during pregnancy so it is wise to seek advice if you are unsure of the suitability of your exercise regime. The most appropriate forms of exercise include swimming, walking, aqua natal classes, Pilates and yoga.  It is important that the instructor is qualified or experienced in teaching pregnant women.  If you are experiencing pelvic girdle pain, or symphysis pubic dysfunction, then always seek advice from a Chartered Physiotherapist prior to beginning any exercise.

You can reduce the risks to your pelvic area and pubic joint by:

 

  1. Standing evenly on both feet.
  2. Sitting on both buttocks and not crossing your legs.
  3. If you have other small children don’t carry them on one hip.
  4. Avoid movements where you are swinging your leg sideways, for example when you get in and out of bed, or a car, turn your hips, pelvis and back in the same direction, while keeping your back straight, so you are moving as a whole and not twisting.

Once your baby is born there is a period of time, while your hormones re-adjust and you resume your usual tasks, when your spine remains susceptible to damage.  This may even be increased by a busy, unfamiliar schedule involving lifting and carrying car seats and prams, combined with feeding postures, picking baby up from their crib and carrying them. It is important to protect your back in the same way you did when you were pregnant.

If you find you cannot resolve your discomfort with this simple advice seek the help of a Chartered Physiotherapist who will be able to identify your specific problems and aggravating activities.  They can then provide you with a tailored programme that will fit in with your schedule.  They can also advise and provide you with supports to relieve/reduce low back pain and pelvic girdle discomfort. 

This information is provided by St Judes Clinic and is intended as general advice during and after pregnancy.  For more detailed advice please book an assessment with us or seek further medical advice from your GP.

Moira D’Arcy  Grad Dip Phys MCSP AACP APPI

Practice Principal

St Judes Clinic

26 Lake Street

Leighton Buzzard

LU7 1RX

Tel: 01525 377751

E-mail: enquiries@stjudesclinic.com

http://www.stjudesclinic.com/health/pregnancy/

Another guest blog by Sarah Ward … thanks Sarah.

The placenta is the fetal life support system, but can also become more than this, and is a powerful symbol that many believe deserves some respect when it has fulfilled its main aim. 

A new TV programme on Channel 4 called ‘How to be a Good Mum’ made me decide to do a topic on placentas. I tend to hate programs like this because they always portray what can be reasonably sensible well thought out ideas, throw them all together and turn them into a program designed to shock and mock anything mildly different from the perceived ‘norm’.

The first episode showed a lady making a print from her placenta in quite gory horror style detail. Each to their own maybe, but here are some ideas I found on the internet!

1. Plant It! 

The most obvious and common thing to do with a placenta (after throwing it out that is) is to plant it in the garden or a pot.  Sometimes this is done as part of a ceremony, naming day, with friends, family or just a personal thing done without announcement, just to show respect to the thing that nourished and fed your unborn baby for all those months.  Maybe to throw it out seems in some way disrespectful after all its hard work?

2. Print From It!

This is easier than it sounds.  It can be frozen for some time, defrosted, washed, dried and the side closest to the baby including the cord can be inked and printed to look like a tree, with all the veins looking like branches.  They can be quite beautiful.  They can also be printed from soon after birth using the blood left within it to make the print.

3.  Encapsulate It!

There are many practitioners that will encapsulate your placenta for you.  This basically involves mulching it up, drying it out and turning it into a powder form that’s put into tablet capsules for you to take.  The benefits are said to be that it can balance your hormones in the weeks and months after birth, increase your milk supply and quality, and increase energy.  Its been reported to decrease the risks of developing post natal depression also. In fact it’s not a new idea, its been a traditional Chinese medicine practise for centuries.  This needs to be done within 48 hours after birth.

4.  Ingest It!

Ok, I mean Eat IT! The benefits are the same as above but you could do this yourself at home and not need anyone to help you. I think most people are generally aghast at this idea, but it’s not so uncommon in other parts of the world. In fact there are many rituals and ceremonies that involve this, and are a way of welcoming the new baby into the community and celebrating its safe arrival. If you google this subject you can find many recipes and ideas from simple smoothies to bolognaise!

In fact MOST mammals eat their own placenta and the benefits are said to be that it encourages milk production, and encourages the uterus to shrink down after birth. 

5.  Burn it!

Some cultures burn the placenta in a clay pot and then bury the ashes.

6. Make a Teddy!

Artist Alex Green set off a media storm after his Placenta Bear went on display at the ‘Doing it for the Kids’ exhibition.  He explained:

“The goal of the exhibition is to inspire designers, educators and parents to be more critical of the toys that shape a child’s values and the impact toy making has on the environment.”

7. Other Cultures Do This!

In Yemen the placenta is placed on the family’s roof for the birds to eat, in the hope that it will guarantee the love between the parents.

In Malaysia the placenta is seen as the child’s older sibling and thought that the two are reunited at death. The midwife carefully washes the placenta, cord and membranes and wraps them in a white cloth to be buried.

In Nepal, the placenta is given the name ‘bucha-co-satthi’ – meaning ‘baby’s friend’

The Tanala people of Madagascar observe strict silence throughout the labour and birth and as the placenta is being delivered. When the placenta comes, everyone present claps and shouts “Vita! Vita!” – meaning ‘finished’.

Philipino women often bury their placentas with books with the hope that this will ensure an intellectual child!

To Conclude:

Whether you choose to eat it, paint with it, throw it out or whatever, there’s no denying that the placenta is a beautiful thing. It is the connection between mother and child and can be a very spiritual symbol. Whatever we decide we should not judge other people’s choices even if they appear alien to us. Being different is what makes the world an interesting place.


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