I have a patient who told me she kept her baby's placenta & they planted it with a new tree in the yard.
I forget the tradtion & the significance of it, but the tree & the placenta obviously represented new life...
I thought it was a little odd myself, but the woman is not odd in any other way- so as long as it made her & her husband happy & didnt harm anyone- fine with me.
No, I really don't think people eat them. I think mostly it's the burial ritual.
I found this online
The place of placental burial is important in many cultures. Among some peoples, the placenta must remain hidden from evil spirits to safeguard the newborn baby; other burial practices emphasize the lifelong connection between placenta and child. For example, villagers in Zimbabwe believe that burying the placenta in the family home will ensure that their offspring will always return home. (16) Sir James Frazer, writing in the early 20th century, noted that "even in Europe many people still believe that a person's destiny is more or less bound up with that of his navel-string or afterbirth." Frazer reports that German midwives would give the dried navel-string to the father, telling him to preserve it carefully in order to keep the child healthy and free from illness. (17) Modern-day Lotus-birth advocate Jeannine Parvati Baker believes that we all have a strong connection to the place where our "navel string" and placenta are buried. (18)
The relationship with the placenta does not end with its disposal, whether by ritual burial or by hospital incineration. Placental symbolism is everywhere in our culture, from the handbags that we carry—holding our money, datebooks, and other items of survival—to the soft toys that we cram into our babies' cribs. Some believe that much of our culture's discontent and our urge to accumulate possessions—including all of the aforementioned—come from the traumatic loss of our first possession: our placenta. And each year we honor our placenta by lighting candles on our birthday cake—in Latin, the word placenta means "flat cake." (19)
Jacob's placenta has been his conduit, passing life from my body to his. Now this placenta—his womb-twin, his primal anchor—has gone back to the earth. Seven years after his birth, Jacob tells me "your placenta is like your heart;' and I realize that he received more than physical nourishment through his placenta. (20) Along with the oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and all the other placental gifts, Jacob also received my love, which was equally his sustenance in my womb, transmitted subtly but vitally by this amazing organ—the placenta.
See http://www.mothering.com/sections/extras/amazing_placenta_notes.html for the endnotes to this article.
Sarah J. Buckley is a family physician, a writer, and a full-time mother to Emma (14), Zoe (11), Jacob (9), and Maia Rose (4). Her book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering will be published in Fall 2005. See www. sarahjbuckley.com for details.
· 1 decade ago