The Weight of Hawthorn's Placenta
I started encapsulating placentas in 2016. It started out at something to add to my growing birth business.
I had never left the hospital with my placenta from my first 4 births. I glanced at them in the hospitals but nothing in my life had led me to really know how special they were. Since the hospitals regarded them as medical waste, that shaped my mindset of what they were.
Then I started down the road of doula work and, shortly after, midwifery.
But still, as fascinating the placenta was, nothing really talked about the sacredness and spiritual being that the placenta is.
Then I went through my encapsulation course and started encapsulating.
I was enthralled by all the beauty of and the innate divinity in the placenta. Whenever a family member was a near, I couldn’t help but show them and talk about the placenta. Many were fascinated by it, some were just indifferent (probably trying to be respectful while my hands are on the placenta, which to me shows they sensed something).
Every time I was asked to encapsulate, a feeling of intense gratitude swept over me. I was being asked to work with something incredibly sacred.
But at times, I felt like I was missing out. Why hadn’t anyone taught me this when I was pregnant with my first 4? At that point in my life, we had discussed that having babies was behind us, so my chance of working with my own placenta was passed.
Every time I saw a friend have a baby and their beautiful placenta was there, I felt that sadness again.
I used that sadness to ensure that what I was doing with others placentas, was treated in such high regard that the moms could feel that energy, that sacredness, even if they didn’t have the same mindset. After all, with the rise of popularity in placenta encapsulation, it seems as though its fallen into an allopathic mindset: take your placenta 3 times a day to prevent PPD, to boost milk supply etc.
Holistic? Not with that approach.
Then I got pregnant again and was insanely excited about getting a chance to work with my own placenta.
He was born on April 19th after 12 hours of labor - from first contraction to him being born. I had finally read Placenta: the Forgotten Chakra by Robin Lim during my pregnancy and so we left Hawthorn attached.
I feel its important to say that this point in time that I actually had no intention of encapsulating my own placenta. There is an occurrence that happens with placenta encapsulation where the mother will actually experience the opposite of what they are meant to help with. I had a sense that I would fall into this category - not because I was pessimistic, but because I know myself.
I was planning a full lotus birth and subsequently collected all the things I would need: a basket with handle, cotton prefolds, herbs (Rosemary, Lavender, and Mugwort were my chosen herbs), and salt.
But my placenta had other plans.
The hours passed after Hawthorn’s birth and the placenta was not coming.
After 2.5 hours, we clamped and cut the cord and I fell asleep.
An hour later, I decided it was time to try again with the placenta. I was successful and the placenta was born - 3.5 hours after Hawthorn’s birth. It was one of the larger placentas I have worked with and breathtakingly beautiful. I didn’t grab a picture - but I’m not really one to take pictures.
Gratitude welled up in my heart and I couldn’t stop touching and examining every aspect of it. I knew that it stayed with me for 3.5 hours for a reason and that it was only born because I was ready.
That night, Oaken began the encapsulation process for me. Since keeping Hawthorn attached was out the window, I decided to encapsulate.
But the next day, I saw my placenta in the dehydrator - forgotten because life got busy. And I cried. I had been walking outside when I saw it and the second my bare feet hit the earth, the tears fell. I was devastated that it was left and forgotten. I felt like it had been disregarded, not held up in its full sacredness. I cried for a while.
Then I set myself down to take over the encapsulation.
I took the powdered placenta in a bowl and woke it up with crystals - Rose quartz, clear quartz, and amethyst. Rose quartz had been my crystal throughout the entire pregnancy and was a center of my birth altar. The crystals I used were also from the birth altar.
I drummed over the placenta as the tears fell. I thanked the placenta over and over again for everything it provided for my new baby and for what it will provide for me. *Typing this now, the tears come again
The tears flowed and I proceeded with the encapsulation.
I added two small crystals to my jar and filled it with my capsules. I had a few large pieces and a piece of the cord so I added them to a small muslin bag for safe keeping.
But at this point, I didn’t fully grasp why I was crying over this. Its not that I have a problem with crying but I just knew that there was some reason this was affecting me so much.
When I started talking to Oaken, to explain how I felt about the placenta being neglected, I started to realize that this placenta not only was Hawthorn’s placenta, but it also carried the weight of the 4 placentas before that didn’t get this care.
It was a ceremony of releasing guilt from my body that I didn’t even realize I was carrying.
Oaken felt incredibly guilty about leaving my placenta all day - but I am not angry with him. How could he possibly have known? He had never witnessed me encapsulating, he hadn’t read and experienced what I have - his family is just as detached from the sacredness as mine was. I couldn’t expect him to know and this moment was a growing moment for him as well. Hawthorn’s placenta, connected him too.
I will cherish it forever.
A few notes:
I chose to encapsulate the placenta after the lotus birth wasn’t possible because we move every few years and burying his placenta in this place did not feel right. We could have frozen it BUT with the moving, I didn’t want to have to worry about his placenta thawing during moves.
The next day, I did take my placenta capsules. My mood, with them, was more down than it had been so I didn’t take them again. The next day, my mood was back up. I didn’t experience the anger or intense mood swing that some do when taking placenta capsules but it was enough of a change for me to discontinue them. I am saving them for my first postpartum menses, salves, and ceremony.
I was able to leave my placenta in for 3.5 hours because I had an unassisted birth. Hospitals and many midwives would not feel comfortable with this (Oaken’s mom kept texting us asking us if the placenta was “out yet”….). I was mindful of checking in with myself about how I was physically feeling but, in all honesty, postpartum hemorrhages are not as much of a risk with a physiological 3rd stage.
I highly recommend reading Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra by Robin Lim. Even if you don’t plan on a lotus birth…or even encapsulating…it is such a beautiful book about the placenta that it deserves a read.
If you are wanting to work with the emotions surrounding your pregnancy, your birth, and your postpartum — as well as start planning for an informed birth and holistic postpartum — I recommend heading over to my shop and picking up by ebook “My Holistic Birth and Postpartum Planner/Journal” . This planner/journal asks you questions to dig in deeper to what you are feeling about your pregnancy, your upcoming birth, and into your postpartum. By digging in, we can release some things that might be holding us back, reveal to us things we most need and desire, and help us approach this transition in our own power. This kind of work has been a huge focus for me, as I work through my own emotions and trauma, so I am hoping that it can provide guidance for others.
The planner/journal also comes with 2 bonuses.
First is a PDF on the postpartum herbal recipes that I use most often during the postpartum period with myself and other moms. This PDF also has a shopping list at the end for all the herbs, ingredients, and tools you might want for creating the remedies.
Second is a PDF on how to yoni steam (as well as when not to steam). The recipes PDF has a yoni steam blend specifically for postpartum mamas to use.