Please note that pictures and language used in this article are a little graphic and the contents may not be suitable for all.
This may be a squeamish topic for some. But there are some people who keep their placenta after giving birth to their children. Some bury them, some keep them in the freezer, some make art printwork out of them, some cook them and eat them!
I'm not one of the brave ones who dare to make spaghetti sauce out of placenta meat and eat it with pasta, but I was very intrigued by the rumoured nutritional qualities of placenta and hey, it is said that all mammals eat their own placenta, right? After experiencing a terribly long and tiring recovery period for my first birth, I decided that I would try and harness the nutritional qualities of my second placenta to aid in my recovery from my second birth.
Thanks to the internet and a friend that I made from Asiaparent Forum who shared with me her experience with preparing placenta, this is what I learnt to do with it:
First, you have to freeze or chill the placenta as soon as possible after delivery 🙂 As my second child was born at home, I really wanted to chuck it into the freezer right after it popped out but... my doctor indicated that he wanted to examine the placenta at the hospital so my doula put it into a freezer bag with ice packs (which she had prepared in advance) and took it to the hospital for us. (She later took it home to freeze it for us and then sent it back to my place after my discharge from hospital).
Next, you have to clean it really well. (If chilled, prepare the placenta as soon as possible so it is "fresh". If frozen, let it thaw) My confinement nanny graciously helped me to do this. We weren't really sure if there was a "proper" method of washing the placenta so we just rinsed it several times until the water ran clear (i.e. slightly pink instead of dark red).
Now, some people find the smell of placenta a little off-putting, so the nice folks at Eu Yan Sang (actually somebody called Mr Ang who is quite knowledgeable about placenta preparation) gave me a small packet of herbs to use with it:
After squeezing half a lemon over the placenta and adding a capful of DOM (if you like), throw the herbs over the placenta together with a few slices of ginger (all these will help to dispel the unpleasant smell).
The next thing to do is to steam it over low heat for 20 minutes on each side (i.e. you steam it for 20 minutes, then turn the placenta over and steam again for another 20 minutes):
Now what you need to do is to wait for it to cool down a bit and then slice it into thin pieces – as thin as you can – sort of like making beef jerky:
Place the placenta strips on wax paper or a metal tray to dry out in the sun (best method), in an air-conditioned room but do watch out for dust and ants or in a food dehydrator/oven on lowest setting.
Dry the strips
You have to make sure that the strips are completely dry. One good indicator is that the strips should feel brittle to the touch before pounding them into powder for consumption. Some people choose to eat this powder by adding it to soup while cooking. I preferred to have it sent to Eu Yan Sang where they powdered the dried strips for me and then encapsulated the powder together with some ginseng for my consumption:
Tip: Try encapsulating the placenta powder together with some ginseng (pao sheng) or cordyceps if you don’t want the smell of placenta to be too overpowering…..
And there you go, voila, you could swallow your placenta in tablet form and not have the queasy feeling of sinking your teeth into a nice, juicy, thick steak of placenta. Bon apetit!
You can read more interesting posts from Vanessa Teo, mummy of two, on her blog!
Watch the video below to see how a dad cooked up a storm with his wife's placenta.
Do partake in the poll below, we would love to know if eating placenta will ever be something you'd consider.
Better yet, write in and tell us your experience if you have consumed your own placenta after birth. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.