Waste Not, Want Not

Nearly six years ago, my daughter watched intently as the woman I’d hired stood at my kitchen counter and washed, dehydrated, and encapsulated my placenta. Today I planted the remaining capsules under the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in my garden.

In retrospect, I’m not quite sure why I had my placenta encapsulated in the first place. I could say that I had it encapsulated because I couldn’t stomach the idea of making it into a smoothie or a stir-fry, but that doesn’t address the question of why I decided to consume my placenta in the first place.

I’d heard about the benefits of placentophagy, but although I was curious to see if it might alleviate or stave off some of the most unpleasant of the postpartum symptoms I’d had when I birthed my daughter, that wasn’t the primary motivator.

Mostly, I think I chose to consume my placenta out of an overdeveloped sense of frugality. Both times I gave birth, midwives and obstetricians alike exclaimed over the large size of my placenta (maybe I should put that on my LinkedIn profile…), and it seemed like such a waste to just throw it out. Why not put it to use?

When I had my huge placenta encapsulated, it made way more vaguely jerky-smelling capsules than I needed to get me through the postpartum period.

“Save them!” said the placenta-eating enthusiasts among my friends. “You can use them when you hit menopause!”

This seemed like a brilliant idea, so I tucked them in the back of my freezer, intent upon storing them for the next ten to fifteen years.

When we moved from Utah to Massachusetts, I carefully stored them in the cooler so they would stay frozen over the long drive. I am so glad we didn’t fly; I would have hated to explain that carry-on to the TSA. Then our first autumn in Massachusetts, we had a hurricane and then a freak snowstorm during both of which we lost electricity for a good chunk of time. While I was throwing out the thawed meat from our freezer, it occurred to me that this was what my placenta now was: thawed meat.

I consulted with the placenta experts, and they said, “You really shouldn’t eat them now. Put them in your garden! Your plants will love it!”

And now, three and a half years after getting that sad news, I’m finally getting around to it.

I expected to feel strange, burying that last tangible evidence of my son’s birth (except for my son himself, who barely seems the same child any more), but I don’t really. If I’m honest with myself, I doubt I would have felt comfortable eating my fifteen-year-old placenta anyway, no matter how carefully I’d stored it, although it would have been great for when my then-teenaged son brought home dates. “You’ll never guess what I have in my freezer! Here’s a hint: I got it when this guy here was born…” And my son would follow me into the kitchen saying, “No, Mom, please. Not the placenta pills again.”

No, mostly I just feel a nagging concern that I didn’t bury the capsules deeply enough and will go out tomorrow to find that some critter has dug them up.

5 thoughts on “Waste Not, Want Not

  1. Help me out with this…With this comment, I am not trying to be crude but, maybe, it is a dumb guy questions. I know that there is some value with the placenta. Is it antibodies or what? Obviously, it is not something you put on the rack as a trophy.

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    1. You could probably bronze it and put on your mantle, but I think the main benefit is supposed to be hormonal. The placenta is chock full of progesterone. More details here. The benefits for garden plants are likely different.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bronzing it is not a bad idea. In a way, the woman plays the hero in this story for sacrificing the pain and so forth. When I was in the delivery room, I had to sacrifice my sarcasm at the door.

        Liked by 1 person

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