I AM because of YOU
My placenta saved my life. She created me, and she saved me. When my mom was 8 ½ months pregnant, she became deathly ill with food poisoning. The placenta’s job is to protect my body and brain from harmful organisms. She did her job by filtering out the poison in the blood, preventing it from passing through my umbilical cord and into my body.
The placenta is created at the same time as the blastocyte, the mass of cells that come together to form the embryo. The placenta is the physical manifestation of the union between two lovers, and of pleasure created by the body. Yes, so is the baby, but I feel it is equally important, if not more important, to acknowledge that the placenta comes from the same creation energy—unity consciousness. Yin/Yang. Ecstatic combustion. There would be no humans on this planet without the placenta.
Knowing this…then how could it be possible that we have come to treat her with such disgust and irreverence? She is viewed as mere “biohazard waste” and considered “gross” by mainstream standards.
As a birth doula, I have been witness to the mistreatment of the placenta by well-intentioned care providers. After a mother gives birth to her baby, the next thing she must do is birth the placenta. While postpartum hemorrhage is a real cause for concern, sometimes I wonder about the efficacy of traditional obstetric practices in removing the placenta in low risk situations. Are they helping prevent hemorrhage or could they, on occasion, be the cause of it? Strict hospital protocols on the length of time a placenta can be retained inside the mother may cause an OB or midwife to feel the need to prematurely hurry the detachment process along. Sometimes I witness care providers tugging on the umbilical cord within minutes after the baby’s birth, forcing the placenta to disengage from the uterus, often before it is ready. In the medical model of care, most hospitals have very rigid protocols on placenta retention time limits, a maximum of 30 minutes post-birth is common. If the placenta does not release within about 30 minutes, with or without excess maternal bleeding, in some traditional obstetric practices, the next step is to send the mother into the operating room and surgically remove it by way of a D&C procedure.
I am going to share a story of how one Mother’s placenta released just in the nick of time, which rendered a D&C procedure and separation from her baby unnecessary.
My client had just given birth to her baby. It was a relatively fast, smooth, uncomplicated, natural delivery. She had almost no bleeding and the baby was in perfect health. Within just a few minutes after the birth, the OB began aggressively compressing the mother’s belly with her hand, in an attempt to encourage the placenta to release. This was extremely painful for my client, even more painful than the labor and birth of the baby. She was in so much pain that they took the baby off her chest and put baby on the warmer. This went on for an excruciating 20 minutes, all the while, the baby was lying 5 feet away from the mother’s body. The doctor kept manipulating….pressing and tugging while my client cried and moaned in excruciating pain, cortisol levels rising. I continued to watch her vagina for signs of excess bleeding…luckily, there was still very little blood coming coming out.
The doctor finally stopped and said, “The placenta is not letting up. If it doesn’t come out by the 30 minute post-delivery protocol, we will need to take you into the operating room and perform a D&C to remove it.” I asked the doctor if there were any risks in waiting an extra 10-15 minutes longer to see if it would release on its own. She looked at me sternly and said, “YES THERE ARE RISKS. Postpartum hemorrhage. She could bleed out and die.”
Then the doctor left the room to go ready for the surgery. While she was gone, the mother relaxed, we put the baby to the breast and I talked to the placenta. I lovingly held my hands on the mother’s womb and thanked the placenta for all her hard work creating life and protecting this baby. I apologized to her for the aggressive pressure. I told my client to visualize the placenta releasing from her womb, fully intact. I continued to talk to the placenta, thanking her for nurturing the baby and for being the baby’s first mother. I told her that the baby is now safe, loved and will be well cared for, and that it is ok for her to die now. I then called in Kali Ma energy to be present. I chanted Om Krim Kalikayei Namaha as I tenderly massaged the mother’s womb. At the same time, the baby latched onto the mother’s nipple and started to suckle. This sent a neural-chemical signal to the baby’s placenta that the baby is now officially safe and nourished outside the womb. This was the confirmation that the first mother needed in order to release, to let go and die. She needed to know that the baby was going to be nourished without her.
Then, during the chanting and suckling, my client had two big contractions, and the placenta gracefully detached on it’s own…just moments before the doctor came back into the room all scrubbed up and ready to wheel my client into the OR.
Do you have a placenta story? Did your baby’s placenta saved your baby’s life in some way?
Have you experienced or witnessed mistreatment of the placenta during the third stage of labor?
Please share in the comments below!
Shelley Rahim is a mother, daughter, wife, birth worker, artist, storyteller, bodyworker, modern mystic and guide and founder of Sacred Birth Journey. She lovingly serves women and families during the childbearing year, as well as supports the emotional, physical and sexual health throughout all phases of life.
Shelley provides a loving and non-judgmental space where women can let go of fear, shame, control, and inhibitions while embracing trust, vulnerability, body wisdom, wild-woman instinct and motherly love.
Serving San Diego women and families with a wide array of offerings. She holds weekly prenatal yoga classes, provides birth and postpartum doula services, teaches Birthing from Within workshops, as well as a variety of healing services and ceremonies.