Being a doula for several years, I’ve seen many placentas, held them in my hands and showed their intricacies to the new mothers, moments after their births. There were always an array of responses, from being completely amazed and intrigued to being grossed out by the placenta. I am still contemplating why this is.
My own journey to becoming a Placenta worker (Specialist only refers to the professional training itself – it is the day to day work with the Placenta, midwives and the mothers that is my continuing teaching) started with the birth of my daughter, Zonne, and my midwife sister showing me her Placenta – I was struck by the strength, beauty and softness of the organ – and then I went back to being in awe and love with my new born daughter.
Luckily for me, my sister had put the Placenta in the fridge and later transferred it to the freezer. I knew nothing of Placenta’s, nothing of what people have traditionally used it for, the magical powers and insights they attributed to it and the rituals and remedies that could be prepared.
Intuitively I wanted to make a ceremony with the women in my life and my daughter and plant the Placenta. But I did not get around to do it in the months after the birth, and the plan sort of dissipated. Zonne’s father surprised me with a burial ritual at his parent’s place and we buried the -by then- defrosted Placenta in their garden, underneath a fig tree.
I let the Placenta go, and saw my doula and midwife friends encapsulate Placentas, make Placenta Prints and such. I was drawn to the Placenta, but did not hear the call, yet.
Years later -September last- I joined an international group of birth worker in the Scottish Findhorn Foundation for the conference titled ‘Healthy Birth Healthy Earth’, where we gatherer for an entire week of learning and contemplation.
One of the day workshops was about Placenta, with Ibu Robin Lim, founder and midwife at Bumi Sehat Foundation. This room filled with women, men, children and a few babies, midwives, doulas, birth workers, gathered to tell each other Placenta Stories. The way knowledge was shared in the past, by telling about observations, feelings, intuition, experiential knowledge from years and years of practice and more.
We spoke of research done and evidence based knowledge – Robin showed us quite graphically the amount of baby blood still in the Placenta & the cord, and we discussed methods of delayed clamping, cord burning, lotus birthing and Placenta rituals and remedies.
But what happened in that room, that day, was the call. The call of the Placenta. Through the stories we told and the knowledge we shared from all over the world, it became apparent to me that we haven’t lost the connection to the Placenta, but are retrieving it again. And that on my journey in life and birth work, the Placenta will become my teacher.