I photographed this family with their newborn baby girl less than 24 hours after her birth, in their home where she was born. It worked out nicely that I was there with Thalla-Marie Choxi of Live,Laugh,Doula. Since I’m pretty sure I had never seen a photograph of a family sitting together creating keepsake art with their new baby’s placenta prior to encapsulating it, I thought it was neat to capture these images. And of course I loved watching the family adore each other and their new addition.
Below, Thalla-Marie answers some questions I thought readers might have about placenta prints and placenta encapsulation. It’s an interesting and easy read, so I hope you will check it out, with an open mind. 🙂
MDP: Will you please tell us the basics of placenta and what placenta prints and placenta encapsulation are, for those who are reading and thinking, “What the heck?”
TMC: Hahahaha, I don’t blame the people thinking “You do what now?” I was one of them a few years ago! Let’s start with the basics. The placenta is the life force of the baby while in utero; it provides oxygen and nutrients among other things to the baby. The last stage of labor is to deliver the placenta. Each placenta is roughly the size of a dinner plate. Families are choosing to take their placentas home with them and have them encapsulated (put into a pill form). Before preparing the placenta for encapsulation, I make a print of the placenta as a keepsake.
TMC: The benefits of placenta consumption include an increase in milk supply, lessened effects of the “baby blues,” and reduced maternal fatigue and postpartum bleeding. Placenta pills can be consumed well after the initial recovery period from birth. I encourage my clients to consider them “happy pills” and take them during stressful days, as well as during the return of their monthly cycle. The keepsake print is a wonderful way to see and honor “The Tree of Life.” It really looks like a tree! Some families choose to write a poem or the child’s name and birth statistics (ex: Mary Lyn 7lbs 2 oz 21 inches) on the print and hang it in the nursery. I have even gotten requests for colors to match the theme of the nursery.
TMC: Of course! In both a vaginal birth and a cesarean birth the medical care provider will inspect the placenta for abnormalities. If all is well the placenta will be placed in either a bio-hazard baggie or a plastic tub clearly labeled with the mother’s name and given to the mother. Some hospitals are more placenta friendly than others. It is important to tell you provider prenatally your plans on taking the placenta home. No need to specify it is for consumption. If the provider seems against releasing the placenta to the mother, other routes can be taken to obtain the placenta. In 2006 Hawaii became the first state to expressly give the family the right to their own placenta. In NJ and NY there is no law barring taking possession of your own biological matter (the placenta).
MDP: When Xander was born, there was little talk of placenta. When Jasper was born, the midwife showed it to us. And now I hear about placenta all the time and it seems like everyone is encapsulating. I think we will if we have another baby. Is it just that I’m hanging out with different people, or has encapsulation become more popular? If it has, why do you think?
TMC: Hahaha, a little of both! With celebrities like Mad Men’s January Jones and Kim Kardsashian talking about placenta encapsulation, it has certainly become more mainstream! It’s even being discussed on shows like “The Doctors.” More and more University lead research studies are being done about this ancient practice, bringing more attention to it.
Pretty cool, right? Who couldn’t use some “happy pills” every once in a while?
Both the mama in these pictures and Thalla-Marie are in that category of accepting, informed, natural and fun mamas I have met in the last year, whom I am so happy to have the privilege to work with, and also to call my friends.
Be sure to like Live,Laugh,Doula on Facebook if you’re into birth and parenting topics. She posts some great stuff!
And lots of love to this family. ♥