9 Things You Can Do With Your Placenta After Birth

What happens to the placenta after birth? Although you can simply leave it at the hospital, here are nine other things you can do with the amazing organ.

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Photo: This stock image is what Lauren expected to look and feel like postpartum. Misfire_studio/Shutterstock

Curious about things you can do with your placenta after birth? Placentas are routinely disposed of by U.S. hospitals—and that's a totally reasonable option! However, nowadays some parents are keeping the placenta after birth for a variety of reasons. Some believe that eating the placenta offers a range of health benefits, while others want it for a variety of other meaningful uses, such as planting it with a tree or incorporating it into jewelry.

Though not nearly as exciting as your newborn baby, your placenta is a pretty spectacular thing. The organ provides nourishment and oxygen to your growing child throughout pregnancy. The placenta is typically delivered within five to 30 minutes of childbirth (though it can take up to an hour)—and if you want to keep yours, you probably can.

If you think you want to take your placenta home, be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife well ahead of delivery time, as every hospital and birthing facility has different policies, and they may need to do some additional prep to release your placenta to you after it's delivered. If you decide to take that step and are looking for ideas for how to get creative with your placenta, here are nine things you can do with it.

Eat Your Placenta

Some people choose to ingest their placenta after birth. This practice is known as placentophagy. People usually either encapsulate it into pill form or add it to smoothies. But some people eat it raw or cooked. And this practice is becoming more popular, with celebrities like Hilary Duff, Kourtney Kardashian, and January Jones eating or taking placenta pills after birth. Animal parents and people in some tribal cultures also routinely eat their babies' placentas.

While there isn't any scientific proof that consuming your placenta offers any health boosts, some parents swear it does help. "Many moms report feeling a boost of energy after consuming their placenta, while others feel it helps them keep an 'even keel' through the postpartum hormonal ups and downs," says Jennifer Mayer, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and owner of Brooklyn Placenta Services. "Others feel it helps with breast milk production."

Anecdotal evidence aside, there are numerous studies that refute the claims that there are any health benefits to eating your placenta. Plus, there are significant risks involved with eating your placenta. Mainly, it could be contaminated or spread illness.

For example, a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents the case of a healthy baby who developed group B strep after his mother consumed her placenta and transmitted the infection via breastfeeding.

Donate Your Placenta

Parents can also choose to donate their placenta after birth. It is typically free to do so. The nutrient-dense tissue can help with reconstructive procedures, the healing of wounds and burns, ocular procedures, spinal surgeries, and other medical needs.

Placenta donation must be done through an accredited tissue bank; you'll need to get specific authorization. The process won't harm or impact your child in any way. If donation is your plan, tell your health care provider in advance as they may need to get special authorization or fill out paperwork ahead of time.

Note that you can donate other birth tissue as well, including umbilical cord blood and tissue, the amniotic membrane, and amniotic fluid. Find more information at Donate Life America.

Make a Placenta Salve

If you can't stomach the idea of guzzling your placenta down with some frozen strawberries in a smoothie, many encapsulators also offer the option of a body salve. These concoctions purportedly may help with C-section scars, perineal tears, and cracked nipples.

Make Jewelry

Whether you go with a delicate pendant, beaded bracelet, or tiny drop earrings, having your placenta made into jewelry will make for a beautiful and enduring reminder of your pregnancy—and, of course, one heck of a conversation piece.

Plant Your Placenta

Don't have the desire to swallow your placenta via pills, smoothies, or other consumable ways, but feel it's too sacred to be disposed of as medical waste? One potential solution: Planting the placenta in your yard. This practice symbolizes a baby's link to the earth in certain cultures, but some modern parents like the idea of planting their placenta alongside a tree in their yard that will grow with their baby. It's a sweet visual reminder of how you were both once physically connected to one another!

DIY a Placenta Shirt

For the less blood-averse parents out there, you can get your creative juices flowing—so to speak—by inking a onesie or toddler T-shirt with your placenta blood. (Note: This is best done before your child is old enough to tell you they don't want to wear a placenta-stained shirt; otherwise, consider making one for yourself!)

Create Placenta Art

Crafty parents can also try making placenta prints to frame and hang in the home. Consider going with the popular Tree of Life design to honor the beginning of your baby's life.

Bury Your Placenta

Instead of having your placenta end up in a landfill, some parents opt to take it home for burial. You can put it in the ground in your yard or bury it in your garden. Some families choose to have a simple ceremony when putting the placenta in the ground to honor its role in sustaining and nourishing their baby before birth.

Buy a Placenta Photo Frame

Forget the $5 frame from Target; display your baby's first photo in a picture frame made of your placenta. Sure, it's a little meta, but when you think about it, why wouldn't you have such a precious and meaningful photo placed inside an equally precious and meaningful frame?

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Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Human placentophagy: a review. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018.

  2. Placentophagy: therapeutic miracle or myth?. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2015.

  3. Notes from the Field: Late-Onset Infant Group B Streptococcus Infection Associated with Maternal Consumption of Capsules Containing Dehydrated Placenta — Oregon, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017.

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