When a woman becomes pregnant she not only grows a human being and soul but also an amazing organ that makes it all possible. An organ that feeds the baby, takes away waste and deoxygenated blood from baby. An organ that can dictate not only how the pregnancy progresses, but also the possibilities for birth.
The placenta – whenua, tembuni, nala, taiban…
In many cultures worldwide the placenta is depicted as a protector of children, connection with mother earth, tree of life and even the 8th chakra; representing epiphany, spirit/matter, unity/separation. In today’s western world the power and presence of the placenta is more often than not forgotten. It is usually checked at a 20 week gestation ultrasound and if all deemed ok, not thought about again. Until the discussion of options of birthing the placenta, where it is most commonly either taken home for burial or discarded by the hospital.
A placenta is literally the gateway of life force from one being to another. The passage through which a mother nourishes her child physically, emotionally and spiritually. The placenta is affected by emotions, the clearest example of this is stress and growth restricted babies. When a mother has a stressful pregnancy due to any number of reasons, this affects the blood flow, supply of nutrients and growth of the placenta, which in turn directly affects the growth of the baby. A placenta that struggles, produces a baby that struggles.
A mother who is grounded, in tune with herself as a woman and connected to her baby, lays the foundation for a placenta to thrive. To become voluptuous and vascular supplying her baby with all necessary love and nutrition to grow. During pregnancy it is just as important to give the placenta energy and focus, just as a mother would her unborn baby. This is particularly important for women with placentas that are adversely affecting the pregnancy, for example, placenta previa, placenta accreta, vasa previa or calcified placentas. Below is an example of this power of communicating with your placenta.
LiWati was full of joy when she fell pregnant with her second baby. She had planned another homebirth, but her hopes and dreams were interrupted by bright red bleeding in her sixteenth week of pregnancy. I took LiWati for an ultrasound. It revealed that her baby’s placenta was growing completely over her cervix, a complete placenta previa. This normally means that a caesarean birth is necessary. LiWati began to cry. I suggested we all speak to the placenta: “Angel, please make your best effort to move up, away from the cervical opening, so that you and baby and mother may be safe.” We also spoke to the baby: “Baby, you must communicate with your placenta angel and ask her to migrate north of your mum’s uterus, so that you may be born naturally.”
The Dr gave me a confused look as we prayed to the placenta and baby. I know he was thinking I was a bit crazy! We sent LiWati to bed for several weeks as the pressure of the placenta was causing the cervix to start opening. I also asked that we hold the vision and not disturb the placenta’s concentration and best efforts to move up. Should there be no more incidents of bleeding, we would do no more ultrasounds until LiWati was 38 weeks pregnant.
After a few weeks of bed rest, LiWati slowly began to move around. She balanced rest with activity, eating well, drinking plenty of water and taking a vitamin supplement. She also continued speaking to her baby’s placenta, asking it to make a safe path for her baby. I joined the discourse with the placenta, along with family and staff at the birth centre. Two weeks before LiWati’s due date, we showed up at the Dr’s office. He was sober, feeling like he would be the dark messengers. Finally he applied the cold gel to LiWati’s belly and used the ultrasound wand to search inside.
As he searched the lower half of the uterus, we saw only the baby’s head, perfectly positioned. But where was the placenta? He moved the wand up, higher and higher. Finally, way up north, as high as it could possibly be planted, there was our wonderful placenta! This baby’s placenta had listened and prevailed.
Three weeks later, Kadek Edi was born into a pool of flowers. When the placenta came, we floated him in a bowl in the tub and heaped beautiful flowers on top, thanking the baby’s angel placenta for accomplishing a miracle.
- Story by Robin Lim, Placenta - the Forgotten Chakra.
The placenta is a great organ, one to be revered. It is the protector of your baby, and your baby’s connection with earth side. When planning your birth, it’s important to consider your options regarding your placenta. Talk to your care provider about physiological birth of the placenta, delayed cord clamping, and delayed severing of the cord. The cord should be cut (or cord burning) with respect, and with permission of mother, baby and placenta. It is the final separation.
Late clamping (or not clamping at all) is the physiological way of treating the cord, and early clamping is an intervention that needs justification. The “transfusion” of blood from th placenta to the infant, if the cord is clamped late, is physiological, and adverse effects of this transfusion are improbable… but in normal birth there should be a valid reason to interfere with the natural procedure. – World Health Organisation
Your baby and your placenta are inherently connected, even after birth. We often think of cutting the cord as severance of mother and baby. But it is actually a severance of baby and his placenta, his gateway, his life force, his connection earth side. Which is why cutting is to be done only with permission from baby and placenta, and of course when mother is also ready. Some claim our placenta is part of our soul.
“Several times over the years, parents have come to me repeatedly with a baby who has sniffles.
When I ask, “Where is the baby’s placenta?”
They answer, “Oh it’s still in the freezer. We haven’t had time to give it a proper burial yet.”
I advise them to get that placenta into the Earth Mother, where it will be warm and properly returned to the earth. After this, the baby’s chronic colds clear completely!”
- Robin Lim, Placenta – the Forgotten Chakra
- Health Organisation Reproductive Health Publications. Timing of Cord Clamping. Care in normal birth: A Practical Guide Report, section 5.5
- Lim, R (2010). Placenta the Forgotten Chakra. Half Angel Press.