A little over a year ago, I wrote The Gross Post, which is one of the most popular things I’ve ever written, apparently (I refuse to think about the kinds of terms people must be typing into search engines to end up at that particular post). Since then, I’ve had ‘Placenta’ as a note in my ‘Ideas for posts’ document, and today I’ve decided to use my ‘small window of blogging opportunity’ to finally turn that note into a ‘full post’ (I’m not entirely sure how or when to use inverted commas). Jill, you’ll be very happy to know that as per your caution, I have not done an image search for ‘placenta’, nor have I included any pictures of actual placentas below. Admittedly a search may have helped me to remember what a placenta looks like, but whatever, I’ve gone ahead and drawn one anyway:
|...in case you couldn't tell.|
When I was pregnant with Moses I thought a bit about what to do with the placenta after he was born. I found out about lotus births, where people carry the placenta around with the baby until it falls off naturally with the umbilical cord. There were instructions on how to make pretty placenta bags and how to keep it from getting too stinky. It was not for me. I also read about people burying the placenta in the backyard and planting a tree at the site, which is an idea I quite like, except that we were renting and it seemed a little weird considering planting body parts in our apartment block’s small shared patch of grass. Anyway, after a bit of reading on the subject I eventually decided to go with something less strange and just eat the thing.
It made sense to me that the large and sudden drop in hormones post-birth could be mitigated somewhat by eating the placenta, and my nerves about developing post-natal depression made me keen to try anything that may help balance my emotions and smooth out the massive transition from pregnant to birthing to breastfeeding woman. So we brought the placenta home, and then we froze it, and then Alan spent a good deal of time chopping it up into tiny pieces so that I could eat them like little ice tablets (I’d read about people cooking it, but the thought made me feel ill). When I tried my first one, I was stupidly surprised to find it tasted like blood and made me gag. I tried eating a couple more, and then I gave up. We lived with a bucket of placenta taking up an annoying amount of room in our freezer until we moved, 19-or-so months later.
Not one to be deterred, I tried eating Hazel’s placenta (my placenta after Hazel’s birth? I’m not sure who it belongs to), too; when my midwife told me she encapsulated placentas as part of her service, I was signing up before she’d finished speaking. YES PLEASE I WANT SOME OF THOSE. This time they won’t taste like blood so I’ll be able to eat them all and then I will feel happy and everything will be wonderful, I thought to myself. However-many-months later I was passed my container of placenta pills, and I tentatively took one, with a large gulp of water. They didn’t taste like blood!! They tasted like body. Like the inside of a body. Like the smell that’s around when you’ve just given birth. Body-insides smell. I gaggily tried a couple more, and then gave up on them too. We still have the tub in our fridge door, next to the olives.
If there was a lesson to be learned from this post, to wrap it up tidily, it’s one that perhaps most people would already expect: Placenta tastes like blood and/or body. For those who had no idea before now: You’re welcome.