What is done with one’s placenta after giving birth is definitely cultural. Within our green parenting community, especially if one gave birth at home, it is not unusual for mothers to eat or bury their placentas (or store them in the freezer). What to do with my placentas was not really part of my birth plan. I had thought of almost everything up to the point of the midwife asking this question. The freezer was the best option until I could make a decision.
While reading National Geographic magazine‘s July 2012 issue, the idea of the cultural significance, or lack there of, placenta traditions struck me. In the article titled, “Vanishing Voices“, languages at risk of being extinct are explored. One such language Seri has a phrase that struck a cord with me and left me thinking:
What a beautiful tradition!
Where are you from? Of course, you are from where your placenta is buried. Unfortunately, my own placenta was discarded as biohazard at some hospital in Ohio.
As children, we learn that Eskimo languages have 40 different words for snow. Our own language seems so limiting in comparison. Language obviously reflects cultural values.
The Seri language is spoken by 650-1000 people in Mexico. They have no greetings like handshakes or waves, but they use a gesture of arms open and a phrase that means, “one who strongly greets with joy/peace/harmony”. I love the Seri speakers!
I don’t think my children know where their placentas are buried. I will amend that today. My daughter’s is buried under a yew tree in a very special place. My son’s placenta was hurriedly buried when a forest fire came across our land, and our hydro power went down. We had to clean out the freezer. I had evacuated with the kids, including this newborn baby, and I am not sure where it was buried. This too will be amended.
Where is your placenta buried? Does your family have a personal tradition of honor for afterbirth? I believe our culture needs a placenta tradition.