Ok, my last post was kinda heavy. Sorry about that. I’m going to take a break from all of my feelings and write about something lighter…but possibly a bit gross. Be warned that this post may contain funny bits, but also possibly disgusting bits.
I can’t remember if I’ve written much about our plans for the birth of this baby. The gist of it is that we’re planning an unmedicated, midwife-assisted home birth, primarily because my last labor was completed without the assistance of any medical interventions or pain medication, and because it was very fast, to the point that my OB joked that we may have to find a drive-thru if we decided to have a third. If you’d like to read the story of Ruby’s birth, you may find it here.
So, Kyla and I have been seeing the midwife and doing our research. Now, I’ve looked a bit at pain management techniques and how to get mentally prepared for labor, but since this isn’t my first rodeo, I’ve really focused more on the logistics of a home birth.
For example, I decided pretty quickly that I did not want a birth tub. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bath, and the idea of giving birth in water seems alright, but it’s the logistics of the tub itself that made me nix the idea. I was wondering where you got the water for the tub, so I looked it up. It appears most people hook up a hose pipe (I’m assuming a brand new one and not just the hose you use for watering the bushes in the summer) to the washing machine supply. So that entails moving the washing machine out of the way, hooking up the hose, running it through the house to the tub, hoping there were no leaks in said hose, and waiting while the tub was filled high enough to get in. Also, knowing what I know about our water heater’s capacity (based on many previous attempts at a nice hot bath in the past that ended up being anything but satisfying), I have a feeling we’d get the tub filled to about six inches high, then have to wait for the water heater to heat more water, then start filling again, probably with the first batch of water already cooled. In that exact scenario, apparently, many people put stock pots of water on the stove, heat those, and pour them in the tub.
I’m sorry, but that sounds like a giant pain in the ass.
If I want to be in water, I’ll get in the tub I already have.
So, I’m looking into all kinda of logistics about home births, and Kyla and I are discussing getting a couple of cheap shower curtain liners to lay down on the floor in the living room so I don’t bleed/pee/poo/whatever on the living room rug. Then it hits me…what exactly are we going to do with whatever comes out of me during birth that isn’t baby?
Since both of my previous babies were born in the hospital, I never really saw much of what came out of me. When my water broke with Ruby and was slowly leaking out at home, I got a pad to catch that, and I just tossed those in the trash. Same with the pads I used for the oh-so-fun postpartum bleeding. But while I was in the hospital, I just sat there with my butt hanging off the end of the bed, pushed, and they handed me the baby when it was out. I remember seeing the placenta, but the baby had a bunch of goo all over it, so I was assuming there was more goo that just fell out onto the floor or something and the hospital folks cleaned it up while I was oohing and aahing over my little bundle of joy.
I think I was imagining a gallon or so of various bodily liquids/solids that would come out with the baby…you get the idea…just a really gross, chunky cocktail of whatever was in my uterus all those months that baby was growing. So I start wondering how we’re supposed to get rid of that stuff at home.
Do we just grab a kitchen trash bag, dump it all in and give it to the midwife? Does she have some kind of low-quantity biomedical waste disposal service she uses for this kind of thing? Or do we just put it in a bag and put it out in the Herbie Curbie on trash day? And is that even legal?
The more I think about it, the more worried I am about the situation. What if I give birth the day after our weekly trash day? What if we put it in the big green Herbie Curbie, and it sits out there in the May/June Southern heat for six days waiting on the next pickup? Ugh. What if it starts to smell?
What if some animal smells it and decids it would be a yummy treat, turns over the Herbie Curbie, spilling all of my afterbirth and whatnot all over the driveway? What if I come out the door with the girls to take them into the yard to play and I find a half-eaten, rotting, sun-baked placenta on my front porch?!
Laugh all you want, or think I’m insane, but my neighbor’s dog turned over their trash can one time to get to some meat they had thrown away after it got freezer burn and it had been in the can for a few days and thawed out and started smelling. It totally could happen. And it would be disgusting.
Now, I was convinced there was much more that would need to be disposed of besides the placenta, like blood and goo and such. As for the placenta itself, Kyla and I discussed the various things people do with the placenta after giving birth. I’ve heard of people consuming the placenta in a variety of ways, like sending it off to get it dehydrated, ground and encapsulated into pill form or cooking it up in some spaghetti sauce, and that’s all well and good. Supposedly it can help the mother with her lactation and assist her in not getting postpartum depression. If it helps, that’s awesome, and I completely support people doing that, but I myself really have no desire to consume anyone’s placenta, even one that came out of me.
I’ve also heard of people planting a tree and burying the placenta in with the planting. That sounds fine too. But again, I imagine you’d really need to dig down deep to make sure no animal came and dug it up, which would likely result in the animal leaving some amount of leftover placenta on your front porch because that’s what I’ve convinced myself that animals do. Also, I don’t want to get out there and dig a hole to bury the placenta, and if I’m not willing to do it myself, I’m not going to ask anyone else to do it.
So all of this consideration went into my decision to ask the midwife at my last appointment “So what exactly do we do with the stuff that comes out with the baby? Do you get rid of it or do we just put it out on trash day?”
She didn’t quite look aghast at the question, but she definitely seemed a little taken aback. She mentioned encapsulation of the placenta as an option, followed by a brief discussion on how amazing the placenta is, and how essential a job it has in the development of the baby. I said I wasn’t really interested in encapsulation, but that I had major respect for the placenta. I’d like to see it when it comes out, and maybe I could tell it “good job!” but after that, I didn’t really want to hold on to it. I mean, yeah, a placenta not doing what it’s supposed to can be really, really bad, so I’ll be extremely thankful if I get through this pregnancy and the placenta has rocked out the whole “giving my baby nutrition” mission, but once it’s job is done, I feel ok just letting it go.
I felt like she really wanted to make sure I had a healthy amount of respect for the placenta, almost like she had taken a little offense at the suggestion that it should just go into the trash. I say that with the utmost respect for my midwife and the placenta…I’m really not ragging on either or making fun. Placentas are awesome, and I am totally fine with anyone who wants to keep theirs. Fry it up, eat it raw, bury it in the yard, get it put into capsules…heck, dry it out with herbs and keep it in a shrine in the nursery. It’s a wonderful organ, and I have no problems with anything anyone wants to do with theirs.
I just don’t want mine.
So, the midwife said that it is not against DHEC regulations for us to just throw it away in the regular trash, and that there really won’t be much else coming out of me besides the placenta and some blood. It would probably be like throwing away some pads/tampons and meat leftovers. We would just need to bag it up real good, maybe double bag it, put it in the freezer until trash day then put it out in the bin.
I thought that sounded like a fine plan, and I was completely satisfied that I had my answer…but then once we got home from the appointment, I realized the midwife’s placenta respect had rubbed off on Kyla when he told me he had reconsidered, and he’d like to bury the placenta in the yard.
So, we’re planning to finally plant the rose bush my mom gave me several years ago (which has somehow survived even though it’s still living in a fairly small pot in the backyard), and Kyla will bury the placenta with the rose. He also agreed to humor me and bury the placenta very, very deep.