Is Placenta Gross?

August 11, 2008

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placenta crop
Creative Commons License photo credit: rkimpeljr

I have to admit, I was a little shocked when I read this post over at MomLogic. Actually, it wasn’t the post itself that got my goat.

It was the comments from the readers.

The general consensus was that placentas are gross.

Excuse me?

Let’s recap for a second, shall we?

According to Amazing Pregnancy, the placenta:

- Provides nourishment to your baby.
- Eliminates waste from your baby.
- Exchanges respiratory gasses with your baby, allowing it to breathe through you.
- Secretes various hormones such as chorionic gonadotropin, progesterone and estrogens that help regulate and maintain your pregnancy.
- Blocks some (but not all) harmful substances in your body from your baby.

Oh and don’t forget – your body creates this additional organ by growing it from scratch when you get pregnant.

Mind you – the blog post I linked to above wasn’t even advocating placenta preservation or encapsulation. Just the whole idea of placenta was gross to these women – and MOMS at that!

I’m sorry ladies, but if you think a placenta is gross, I feel sorry for you. You have major issues and need to seek help. My question is, if you think placenta is gross…

  • Do you also think your uterus is gross?
  • Do you think your birth canal/vagina is gross?
  • Do you think your breasts are gross?
  • Do you think your husband is gross?

All of these things come together to give your baby life.

If you think that’s gross, it must suck to be you.

I bet you also hate your thighs. And your stomach. And your hair. And your life.

I know this post will probably cause a few of you to leave my blog and never come back. That’s ok.


Because you would have gotten all offended next week anyway when I interview Jodi Selander of Placenta Benefits.

And since some of you are still reading, I’ll tell you what I think is gross.

  • I think it’s gross how many women are castrated without good reason.
  • I think it’s gross that people cut their son’s genitals for no good reason.
  • I think it’s gross that some people think breastfeeding is gross.
  • I think it’s gross that some people kill their growing babies.

Still here?

I think your body is wonderfully made, and an awesome gift with an amazing design.

What do you think?

And for the record, I didn’t eat my placentas, and it’s not something I would do. But neither I would not judge a mom with debilitating Post Partum Depression who decides to encapsulate hers and eat it.

Is it just me, or do you see the connection I’m trying to make here between thinking that placenta is “gross” and the cultural conditioning that we women swallow that tells us that we – and our bodies – are gross?

This hatin’ has got to stop ladies!

More Posts By Carrie:


20 Responses to “Is Placenta Gross?”

  1. Stephanie on August 11th, 2008 6:40 pm

    Great points. My husband and I wished with our first child that we owned a home already so we could plant the placenta… assuming the hospital would release it which I seem to recall reading can also be a problem. It just seemed like a really cool sentimental thing to do.

    Can’t picture eating it, though.

  2. Amanda on August 11th, 2008 6:43 pm

    I used to (before actually giving birth & becoming a parent) think a placenta was gross. Not that I’d actually seen one then, but I figured it must be. Now I think they’re pretty amazing, and have big plans for the next one (if and when #2 comes along). You should’ve seen the looks I got when, on a vacation with my husband’s family, the topic came up and I nonchalantly mentioned that I will probably consume the next one. It was priceless..

    But yes, yay for placentas!

  3. carrie on August 11th, 2008 6:50 pm

    I should have known that the women who read this blog are comfortable with themselves and acknowledge that their placentas are wicked awesome.

  4. Marcie on August 11th, 2008 6:51 pm

    You go Grrrrrl! ;) I don’t agree with everything you’ve stated, but most of it is bang on to what I think too!

    Yea for speaking with Jodi-she’s fatastic.:) Tell her I said hello!

    In the meantime, here’s my “two”…umm I have a placenta in my freezer, (I’m a member of the FPS: Frozen Placenta Society!) so I’m pretty sure I’m not grossed out by it. Did you know that modern science in all it’s wonder STILL cannot figure out how a placenta is created!? How do ya like THEM apples!?

    I am a strong advocate of lotus birth. And I think it’s interesting that our baby’s cells divide and create this amazing means of life support, and then the baby has the benefit of it’s warmth and softness for snuggling as it grows-it’s like a womb-mate…and then…hmmmm…it’s born, the cord it cut, and it’s never honored, celebrated or admired!? What’s THAT about!?

    If our cells absorb information, emotion, belief and intent…and that’s been proven…I wonder what the women who are so grossed out by their own placentas are creating on a cellular level for their unborn? I wonder if a growing baby can even differentiate itself from its placenta-I mean, it IS a shared organ, so it really IS a part of them-a piece of them.

    Wouldn’t it be sad if all of these women, with their thoughts and emotions about how “gross” this part of their baby’s in-womb identity is, were harming their child’s self esteem and sense of self even while in-utero?!

    Just my two…..

  5. carrie on August 11th, 2008 7:03 pm

    @Marcie – Exactly! And what is it saying when women hate their own body organs? None of us hates our heart, brain or lungs… when I saw my placentas, I couldn’t help but think.

    Man… I rock! I made that!

  6. carrie on August 11th, 2008 7:04 pm

    Oh and your comment made me think of what Laura Uplinger of Prenatal Psychology had to say on the subject of a pregnant mom’s thoughts and feelings affecting her unborn.

  7. April on August 11th, 2008 7:23 pm

    I left a comment over there but wanted to leave one here too.

    I don’t see anything wrong with saving it and doing whatever you choose with it. Personally, I draw the line at eating it. And with us much as I move, carrying it from house to house and storing it in my freezer isn’t practical. But I have no problem with burying it as a symbolic act or ritual of growth and nurturing.

    As far as the picture, I think its amazing. I can’t help but look at all of the veins and the umbilical cord in awe. I mean, that thing grew a PERSON. How is that gross? I’d rather see that than those plastic surgery documentaries on TV that show people getting fat sucked out of their bodies.

    Speaking of which, am I going to be kicked out of the “natural moms” club if I admit that I really do hate my thighs? And my butt too?

  8. April on August 11th, 2008 7:29 pm

    Oh, and as the mom of a child with juvenile diabetes, I am all about saving cords and placentas and stem cells and frozen embryos that would otherwise be destroyed, whatever they can use for research for a possible cure so my son will live longer.

  9. carrie on August 11th, 2008 7:46 pm

    No April – not kicked out :) We all have those issues to a greater or lesser degree.

  10. carrie on August 11th, 2008 7:51 pm

    Oh and @April that is a great point about the plastic surgery thing – again, our selective squeamishness in this culture is really pathetic.

    Why isn’t “eating” pregnant horse URINE (Premarin – hormone replacement therapy) gross to most people?

    Even organ donation is akin to “eating” a body organ of another, taking it directly into one’s body. How is that different from eating encapsulated placenta?

  11. crunchy domestic goddess on August 11th, 2008 8:47 pm

    I admit that the first time I saw a placenta (after I gave birth to my daughter), I didn’t think it looked very appealing. I also honestly wasn’t that informed about what the role of the placenta was.

    When I was pregnant the second time (with my son), and I chose a midwife over an OB/GYN, I learned a LOT more about how amazing the placenta is and I even elected to have my midwife dry and encapsulate my placenta for ingestion after my son was born.

    I think when women say a placenta is gross, they are most often ignorant as to what the role of the placenta is and what an amazing organ it is. Not trying to defend them, but just saying that often what we don’t understand scares us.

    Great post. :)

  12. Tiffany on August 11th, 2008 9:18 pm

    Placentas are a miracle. This is kinda unrelated but in a debate class I had in college I had to argue against abortion and my opponent had to argue for it. I remember she kept saying over and over again…my placenta, my choice. And I kept thinking …uh …no …if not for the miracle of a baby you will have no placenta to speak of so how cancan you claim ownership of it like that.

    But anyway I don’t think they are gross but I didn’t save them either. I did always look at them after my births though..interesting stuff.

  13. Summer on August 11th, 2008 9:28 pm

    OK, I’ll admit they’re not the prettiest looking organ. I can see how they look gross. But the placenta is just too amazing! It’s such a powerful organ, the way it is created and works and then dies at the right time. And freezing it to eat has so many amazing health benefits. Maybe gross looking, but absolutely amazing.

  14. Robin on August 12th, 2008 8:04 am

    Wow, I never even heard of all this stuff that could be done with a placenta before I read the blog post yesterday at momlogic and I have given birth 4 times. I didn’t even know I had a choice to keep it! I don’t think anything that has to do with pregnancy or child birth is gross, although seeing blood and body parts does make me queasy sometimes. I will admit that I was guilty of twittering my comment that eating it grossed me out, but I don’t judge or ridicule any woman who would eat hers.

  15. casual friday everyday on August 13th, 2008 10:06 am

    I sure don’t think they are pretty. I doubt I’d see my brain or other organs and think they looked appealing, however that doesn’t mean I hate my placenta. I think the entire process of pregnancy is amazing and that includes the role of the placenta. So, does that make me a hater? LOL I don’t think so. The purpose of a placenta is truly amazing…the look of one I could do without seeing on a regular basis.

  16. Jodi Selander on August 13th, 2008 5:36 pm

    Thanks for your awesome post Carrie. I think we definitely need to change our perception of the placenta.

    Everything changes based on our perceptions. Think about a person that you met, that on first glance was not particularly attractive. But as you got to know them, their began to appear more physically attractive based on their wonderful inner qualities.

    I think it can be like that with the placenta. If we regard it as trash, only fit for the incinerator or garbage can, then it will certainly not seem attractive on its own. But if we learn about the amazing qualities of the placenta, and its role in bringing our beautiful babies into the world, then suddenly its physical qualities are not “gross”, but just part of what makes it what it is. The shiny outer surface that holds the umbilical cord closely resembles a Tree of Life, and the veins are the delicate root system. It has a pulse and a life energy all its own, and it is so deserving of our awe and respect.

    And I think you raise a solid point – our perception of ourselves, and our bodies, would be so much more positive if we would see the products of childbirth as objects of wonder instead of “gross”.

    So next time you see a placenta, think “wow, not “ewww”. Luckily, I get to see more of them than the average person, and I am still awed by them every single time. Each one is as individual and unique as the baby itself, and they are all special.

    ps: check out for how the placenta can help women in their postpartum recovery. :)

    (hi Marcie!)

  17. Christina Havens on August 18th, 2008 4:53 pm

    HI Carrie and JODIE and Everyone!!
    I have to say THANKS to JODIE and the BYN because I Had my placenta encapsulated by her. The idea was a bit weird to me at first I even said wow I am pretty natural but not THAT natural! LOL After the birth of my son I WISHED I got my placenta encapsulated, I was very depressed! My views were changed due to a lot of personal growth I had experienced after my pregnancy and pain free birth of my son. My whole views on life changed after i gave birth painlessly. I was pregnant 3 months after the birth of my son and I KNEW I was going to do it this time. I can go on about this for days here so I will spare you! Placenta encapsulation is AMAZING in so many ways. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Any one who cant get over the gross factor needs to take a deeper look at themselves. It is simply pure judgment and ignorance, take a risk and open your minds and hearts a little and see the beautiful changes that happen in your life ;)

  18. Liz Wood on October 20th, 2008 4:22 pm

    I wanted to point out to those who were interested that there is another side to this issue, that eating our body parts is cannibalism. According to the site owner, if you don’t care to participate, you must be gross to her. I don’t think the body God created for me is evil or disgusting, but I don’t want to eat it. I’ll be unsubbing, because my beliefs are that we should not eat our own body parts, and I don’t see you being as tolerant toward those who disagree with you. Unfortunately, you were not willing to give a voice to moms who see things another way. That might have been a whole different audience for you.

  19. Liz Wood on October 20th, 2008 4:31 pm

    It is not an “ick” factor, because clearly it is a dry pill that is ingested. It is an aversion to the dehumanizing of human birth parts, which will naturally lead to dehumanizing the baby, and of course there are many abortion advocates who are already successfully doing that. Please be aware that the placenta is a wonderful and awesome organ that is created by God to feed our child, and it does the job well. There is no further need to use this part once the body has expelled it. We do not need to re-introduce other parts that our bodies have expelled, either! I won’t get crude there, but I think you can follow. Ok, I think that’s all I have to say about this subject. Like the placenta, this subject is best not revisited.

  20. carrie on October 20th, 2008 5:34 pm

    Hello Liz,

    I respect your opinion, and you can click the bottom of the newsletter emails to unsubscribe.

    I wanted to make clear that nowhere in my podcast or on the blog did I say I agreed with eating placenta. It’s not something I would personally do, however I do not sit in judgment of women who choose it as an option.

    You said: “if you don’t care to participate in every practice that she
    advocates, you are gross to her.”

    That is NOT what I said. I was referring to commenters on a blog who said they thought placenta in and of itself (not the practice of
    eating it, just the placenta, period) was gross. I don’t think
    anything God made our bodies that creates/sustains life is gross. It’s not a waste product. It’s no longer needed after the baby is born, but it’s not the same as excrement. I also don’t understand the leap from placentopaghy to abortion. I am 100% opposed to abortion in ALL cases. So your hypothesis is not correct there at least for me.

    I never said people were gross. Perhaps you could re-read the post. It was with a lot of trepidation that I published that podcast in the first place, because I didn’t want to seem like I was advocating the practice. I personally wouldn’t participate in placentopaghy, but
    again – I’ve never suffered from life threatening post partum
    depression and I can understand women doing this to prevent it.



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