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Placenta Prints

As promised.  Please note that this post contains up close and personal pictures of placentas. 

The placenta is incredible.  Perhaps you’ve never thought about it.  Ponder for a moment.  Or skip this post.  That is ok, too!

It is the only organ we grow temporarily.  Through it, baby receives nutrients and sends waste.  Yet mom’s and baby’s blood do not mix.  Until birth, the placenta is the essential organ for the baby; functioning as gut, lungs, kidneys, liver, and much more.  The placenta produces and regulates hormones for mom and baby.  I could go on and on.  If you’re interested in learning more, google it! 

What happens to the placenta after birth?  Most women birthing at hospitals leave it there.  The hospital probably incinerates it as medical waste.  Or perhaps they sell it; though that doesn’t seem to be as common as it used to be.  Some women at the hospital request to keep it.  The hospitals around here plop it in a large plastic container for transport.  They don’t even look at you funny anymore. 

Why keep it?  Ritual–plant it under a tree or create some other ceremony.  Placentophagy–consume the placenta for medicinal benefits.  Art–which brings us to my post!

Placenta prints are simple though they take some practice.  They create a nice conversation starter for your home.  🙂 

Materials needed:

  • watercolor paper
  • paintbrush
  • placenta
  • UV sealant
  • blade of some sort (maybe)
  • paint (optional) 

First, set up your work area.  Indoors is best.  I’ll let you figure out why.  I put down a few garbage bags, tear off several paper towels, and set out some gloves.  I also hang an open garbage bag from a doorknob or chair.

The placenta has two sides.  The maternal side is rough and rather unattractive.  The fetal side is smooth and shiny.  You can see side-by-side pictures and a simple anatomy here.  You will be working with the fetal side.  Place your placenta like this: 

Here is a close-up of the “tree of life” pattern that you will be printing.  (This is not the same placenta as above).

There will probably be membranes (amniotic sac) attached.  You can see it in the first picture coming down from the umbilical cord and tucked under.  Usually, I can twist them around the cord or around to the maternal side.  You can also cut them away.  They are stronger than they look!

You can print the placenta using its blood as the medium.  The color will fade over time but a UV sealant will help to protect it.  Or you could have professional copies made to keep.  If the mom plans to encapsulate her placenta, it is important that you work quickly and you do not use paint.  If you wanted to print in a color and the mom is ok with it, you could use a food-based tint like chlorophyll.  Again, work quickly so the placenta is not out of the refrigerator for long. 

To use a paint, remove blood by blotting with paper towels.  Then brush on your paint.  Don’t forget to paint the cord. 

Whichever medium you choose, I’ve found it easiest to lay the paper onto the placenta rather than dropping the placenta onto the paper.  It is less likely to smear this way. 

 The first image uses blood.  The second image (different placenta) uses acrylic paint. 

Fun, yes? 

I am confident 10 people just unsubscribed to my blog.  🙂

Next up…a video of my adorable two-year old dancing?

5 responses »

  1. Thank you for sharing Julie! These are amazing.

  2. Makes me, well kindof, want to defrost mine and do one! I wanted to bury it in the ground and plant a beautiful tree on top of it, It is only 18 months old right. I have peas that at least that old in my freezer 😦

  3. The print you made for us is ready to me to picked up at Hobby Lobby. I will post a picture of the framed print soon.

  4. Very informative post! I had no idea how to go about this. After three babies and now unsure about having another one, I’m kind of sorry we never tried it. Chlorophyll–what a great idea.


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