Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Birth Plan...Placenta Plan epidural? episiotomy? Pitocin?
There are so many things to think about while preparing for your birth. I loved the idea my Childbirth Class Educator while preparing for my first birth. The idea was to have a plan before walking into the hospital and the realization that I do have choices. I felt empowered by having a plan. I felt like I was prepared. I knew that I had done my research and made decisions that were right for me.
It was not until my second child that my Licensed Homebirth Midwife had asked me something I had never been questioned about before. She had asked me what my plan for the placenta was. I, like most women probably, was taken by surprise. A plan for my placenta? I suppose I didn't realize there was much to do with the placenta. I was in nursing school at the time. We had discussed during my Labor and Delivery rotation everything there was to know about pregnancy, birth and postpartum. NEVER had anyone told me that a mother had options in regards to the placenta. It made me sad to think that this amazing connection between my first born and I, a "lifeline" as I have heard it called before was simply thrown in the trash with hardly a second look. It seemed so unappreciated. I had heard of preserving cord blood before and all of the research that is going into it's benefits but never the placenta.
Because of my schooling I was well aware of what the placenta was for but had never been taught the benefits of a placenta once the baby was born. I liked the idea of honoring the placenta in some way maybe to bury it under a tree to represent the new life it had become.
Then my midwife mentioned eating it. Wait, what did you say... eating it!?!? Um, no. I mean somebody was going to have to pay me to do something totally gross like that. Sure, I wanted to be 'super natural' but I have to draw the line somewhere. I flippantly said, "Who would do that unless it was like life or death!?" My wonderful midwife smiled and laughed and sweetly told me stories of women whose life HAD been saved physically as a result of eating the placenta raw and other women whose life had been saved emotionally by eating it in pill form. Hummm... I thought...I'll think about it. Although I did eventually get the placenta encapsulated, which I am so grateful for, I still had many questions.
By baby number 3 I finally had a placenta plan! I did my research and had someone lined up to encapsulate the placenta. I was also aware of the benefits of traditional placentophagy and had told myself that if a situation arose I would remain open to a "placenta cocktail." Thank goodness I did not need to take it, for if I did, it may have came right back up. The point is I was aware. I knew my options and I had a plan. I had made educated decisions on what was best for me, my baby, and my family.
I have no idea what is right for you and your family. But, I do know, that traditionally mothers are never asked what their 'plan' is for the placenta. It is simply thrown in the trash. And although that is 100% a choice that you can make I encourage mothers to truly look at the many other options you have. Make it part of your birth plan and review it with your health care professionals.

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