I always thought lotus birth was extremely interesting, but I also was not willing to give up the many benefits of raw placenta consumption. Recently though, I learned a way around this, where I could do both, and this is how.
Our journey began on June 15th, 2019 at around 11 am when baby and placenta were born. After baby was born, I laid in the birth pool for some time, and when I decided to get out I stood up, gave a gentle push. The placenta went right into the pool. My husband grabbed a bowl, I placed the placenta in it, got out of the pool, and sat on the couch with baby still attached.
Preparing and Consuming the Placenta
Once I felt up to it, approximately 6-8 hours after birth, it was time to prepare the placenta for consumption and begin setting up for the lotus birth! I sanitized all of the counter space and laid down parchment paper. I took the placenta to the sink and washed off excess blood and blood clots then returned to the table with baby in tow.
I first removed the fetal membranes from the placenta, which are extremely healing for wounds, cuts, and burns – unbeknownst to most! I kept these and stored them. What you see me holding up in the photo below are the membranes. This is the sac baby lived inside while in utero.
With the membranes removed, I went on to prepare the maternal side for consumption. Below you will see an image of the maternal side of the placenta. This
would be was the side attached to my uterus, supplying vital nutrients to the baby. As you can see, there are still a few more blood clots on the placenta. Those were removed later.
To quickly complete the placenta anatomy lesson, the photo below is of the fetal side. This is the side that baby cuddled up with inside of their sac! In the top left of the photo, you see the membranes that were removed earlier in the process.
Moving back to the process, it’s important to know that the maternal side is made up of lobes. These lobes are what I cut off into 1-2 inch size chunks, with each chunk being considered one ‘dose’. In the photo below you will see the membranes in the pile on the left, the lobes (which are intended to be frozen and consumed) in the middle, and a small pile of blood clots on the far right.
The placenta, now lacking the maternal side, is left only with the fetal side. This is what the maternal side looks like with the lobes removed!
With the lobes and membranes removed, the only thing left is the fetal side and cord which are still attached to baby. This is where the lotus birth portion begins, but before we get into that, I will explain how I finished the raw consumption preparations.
Once I had all of the lobes cut into 1-2 inch pieces, I rinsed them off thoroughly and removed all remaining blood/blood clots. I used a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, placed each piece on the tray, and popped it in the freezer! Once they were frozen, I placed all of them in a baggie to better preserve.
It is suggested to use one 1-inch piece in each smoothie, but I personally use more because I absolutely love the energy from them! I typically throw in one big piece or 2 pieces.
Many people are concerned about an overwhelming unpleasant taste in the smoothies, but I have had no issue adding frozen fruit into my smoothies. You can use any fruit, really! To overcome the mental aspect, I personally suggest including some kind of berry in your smoothie to mask the color of the placenta. I have had great success with smoothies that include strawberry, blueberry, mango, peaches, pineapple, apples, bananas; and really, whatever I felt like adding that day. There’s no real recipe to that part, it all depends on personal preference. Some really good recipes for inspiration can be found here and here.) My smoothies typically also include yogurt and some type of liquid. Again, what you decide on completely depends on your preference. Many women will also add in supplements to help boost healing and milk supply. Once all of your ingredients are added, blend and enjoy!
There is no set schedule for placenta consumption, I would just prepare a smoothie as desired. Whenever I needed an energy boost, I’d have a smoothie. Sometimes once a day, sometimes 3 times. Some days none at all!
If you don’t want to make a whole smoothie out of it, but you still want the benefits of raw consumption, you can break the chunks up into smaller pieces and swallow them whole! And, what exactly are the benefits I’m speaking on?
Health Benefits of Placenta Consumption
Some can’t get down with raw consumption – I get that! There is also placenta encapsulation that can be done as well. This is where the placenta is dried, ground, and filled into capsules for easy consumption. This type of consumption is possible even if you want to choose a lotus birth, it’s just a few more additional steps. Feel free to take our Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Certification course to learn more!
While placenta consumption, or human placentophagy, remains a fairly new idea to the medical community, there are quite a few emerging studies showing the potential benefits of this practice.
- Breastfeeding mothers who consumed their placentas had higher levels of protein in their milk
- Exclusively breast-fed babies gained weight faster when their mother consumed the placenta
- Placenta consumption boosted breast milk production in 86% of women
- Women who consume their placenta postpartum experience improved postnatal mood, higher energy, increased milk production, reduced bleeding, and faster recovery.
- Significant changes in the postpartum hormones can be seen after consumption of the placenta.
Preparing for the Lotus Birth
So, what is a lotus birth, anyway? If you’re completely new to the idea, take a look at our article on lotus birth to learn more. Why would someone want to do that anyway? It’s a completely obscure idea to most here in the Western world, but many people have known about the potential benefits of a lotus birth for years.
Below are the supplies I used for the lotus birth. On the brown paper is a list of each herb used and what they are used for, and the jar is filled with said herbs. I also used some clean, dry towels, a stainless steel bowl, and some coarse table salt.
Herbs for a Lotus Birth
- Anise: Protection, Healing, Luck, Love, Purification
- Catnip: Love, Beauty, Happiness, Tranquility, Luck
- Cinnamon: Healing, Love, Success, Purification, Protection, Psychic Awareness
- Clove: Protection, Mental Abilities, Purification, Comfort
- Lavender: Healing, Love, Happiness, Sleep, Tranquility, Protection, Purification, Peace, Wisdom, Children, Marriage
- Pepper: Protection, Purification
- Rose: Healing, Love, Purification, Conciliation, Restoration, Longevity, Improves Memory and Concentration
- Rosemary: Cleansing, Protection, Healing, Longevity, Improves Memory and Concentration
- Sage: Healing, Longevity, Good Health, Psychic Awareness, Protection
- Verbena (Vervain): Purification, Protection, Blessings, Communication with Nature Spirits
After preparing everything for consumption, it’s time to prepare for the lotus birth portion! To start, I rinsed the fetal side, and placed 2 towels inside of my bowl, covered it with a thin layer of salt, and topped it with the placenta.
I then added another layer of salt on top of the placenta, and this helps with preservation and smell. When it’s all said and done, the entire placenta should be covered in salt, and then the herbs can be added.
That’s it! It’s really that simple. Many women will add their own personal touches, flowers and crystal stones on top, but this is all completely up to you and what you feel led to do. It is suggested to switch out the salt and herbs every 12 hours. I did this once, but after 24 hours, I moved the placenta from the bowl and into a baggie.
I can’t tell you how many times I pulled the placenta right out of the bowl while holding/walking with the baby, and he didn’t have a short cord either! As a mother of multiple children, it was incredibly difficult to stay stationary, and I found myself forgetting the bowl and placenta often. I ended up spilling the bowl a few times, which resulted in a huge salt mess, and the baggie ended up being MUCH easier and more family friendly in my opinion. I was able to seal it for the most part, which helped prevent spills and kept the placenta from being pulled out of the bag. It was also extremely helpful in the car seat, and when we traveled outside of the house.
In our experience, the cord dried very quickly! While it did become more firm than it was immediately after birth, it remained flexible and mostly out of the way. It never did seem to hurt or bother the baby, either. He was only four-days-old when, while having a diaper change, he kicked his cord and it popped right off! He didn’t flinch or fuss either, and it didn’t seem uncomfortable for him in any way. This is what it looked like when the cord detached. I continued to add breastmilk to the belly button in the days going forward.
As for the fetal side of the placenta, I plan to plant it with a plant that thrives in acidic soil like a blueberry bush, magnolia, or a dogwood tree. Until then, it sits in my freezer!
Overall, the lotus birth experience was absolutely beautiful. It was something I’m glad I was able to experience, but would I do it again? Probably not! It ended up being a lot of extra work in the postpartum period, and it didn’t really resonate with me spiritually. For someone else, it could be completely worth it, and this is where the personal preference comes in again. The beauty of postpartum is tailoring the healing and adjustment to YOU and YOUR baby. No one else really matters.
As for the raw consumption aspect, I think I will always consume raw. With my first, I did not consume the placenta at all; with my second, I encapsulated; and with my third and fourth, I consumed raw. If you ask me, there really is no comparison. Raw consumption provided far more energy than encapsulation ever did.
Of course, these choices are not for everyone, but if you feel inclined to give it a try – DO IT!
If you want to learn more about placentas, their anatomy, preparation, and much more, learn more about becoming an HERBAL Placenta Specialist here.