Photo credit: Furner Photography https://www.instagram.com/furnerphotography/
Most birthing women have heard of a placenta, but what does it really do and who does it belong to?
I like to think of the placenta like the Bass Straight. On one side you have the Mother (mainland Australia) and on the other side you baby (Tasmania). The big blue stretch between them provides separation, safety and life. It’s a combination of both bodies of land, but they can’t both exist in harmony without this beautiful boundless ocean between them.
As a woman, most of us have a uterus (the coastline that keeps the Bass Straight confined). Our uterus is a large, thick muscle that creates a boundary between our abdomen cavity and the baby, ensuring a beautiful, cozy home is formed. When we fall pregnant and a baby forms, our body creates a thick cord that links our baby with our placenta. This cord is called the umbilical cord and contains an artery, to discard of any of the baby’s waste, and 2 veins, to bring the baby nutrients. This cord then flows into a free space between the uterus bub. On mother’s side, our veins and arteries protrude past the wall of the uterus into a free space between the uterus and baby, the placenta.
The placenta, the free space where the veins and arteries of both mother and baby spill, allows the mother to provide nutrients and oxygen for the baby to absorb and allows baby to discard of waste for mother to take back into her system and pass. It’s like the beaches on either side of the Bass Strait spilling into the ocean, bringing wildlife back to the shores, allowing the crossing of important vessels and the movement of sand along the ocean bed.
It is the first-time mum and baby work together. The placenta, just like the ocean, belongs to no one, but helps everyone.
Given the amazing work the placenta does to provide for baby during the pregnancy, many cultures around the world chose to honour it with various traditions. In the First Nations culture it is believed that the placenta carries the baby’s spiritual journey (Miwi Print). When a baby is born vaginally it triggers a series of exchanges of information between the placenta and the baby. Once activated by the babies first breath of oxygen, information is passed back through the cord, backwards and forwards between baby and the placenta. This is believed to be why the umbilical cord still pulses after the baby has taken it’s first breath. To honour this transfer of information and imprint of the baby’s spiritual journey, it is important that the placenta is then honoured by being planted in the earth during the Birthing Ceremony. This burial is believed to anchor the child’s journey and the spiritual journal waits there until the child reaches puberty and then helps to guide them.
Does this resonate with you? If so, I’d love to sit down with a cuppa and chat about how I can help guide you through the birth of your dreams or nurture you while you nurture your new baby. Get in touch below:
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I’m looking forward to taking this journey with you.
Emma – Pregnancy, birth and fourth trimester doula
Bloom into Birth