I’ve been thinking about my placenta.

I’ve never thought about my placenta before.

It’s funny, even though I offer placenta encapsulation for postnatal clients to consume, I’ve never actually considered that I once had a placenta or that it was once attached to me and…what happened to it?

This sudden sensing my placenta flows on from my Sacred Female Yoga (SFY) embodiment practice this morning.

As it happened, the way my SFY practice unfolded this morning was to centralise around core strength.

Core work wasn’t really intentional. My SFY practice is often free-style – like diving into a mystery and seeing what wants to emerge: where does she want to take me today? By ‘she’ I mean my body and the flow of energy that wants to move through me, attuning to my inner current and giving myself permission to listen, to feel, to move and to express in whatever way she wants, today. This is the gift of SFY embodiment practices.

Today she wanted the jade egg, which is always a pleasure and guaranteed to take me to deeper places within.

So, with egg invited in, it was a practice marked by initial pelvic floor awareness and centring my focus to my lower dantian, the area below my belly button, engaging neutral spine* and choosing to anchor my breath, my presence, my whole attention to the sensations being activated from pelvic floor to yoni to womb and then core abdominal muscles.

During SFY it usually surprises me how enjoyable it is to locate these muscles, to feel into this area of my body, to do the ‘work’.

After all, these are exercises I previously always skipped over! My lower belly is the place I’ve most neglected, my shameful area of soft and flabby weakness.

And it usually feels such an effort to do core work! I DETEST sit ups and burpees as much as I do push ups. I hate it because it makes me feel weak and frustrated and bored. I just won’t do it!!

This is different, and I suspect it has everything to do with the pelvic floor activation and my experience with the jade egg.

This is pleasurable!

This is core roll ups and half plank leg lifts with vaginal activation!

This is not just feeling into my core and working my abdominals, but first tuning into all the sensual, sexual Holy Mother! muscles that are the exquisite inner walls of my vagina, the throbbing pulse of my womb, the potent power lying latent in each and every female pelvis.

Oh that feels good.

Yes, its still EFFORT from muscles working, enough to make me sweat and shake, but it’s DELICIOUS.

Rather then turning away from the challenge it’s a pleasure to turn toward it.

It’s like a secret inner smile going on whilst I lengthen and stretch and breathe into my power.

I want to feel these muscles!

I want to experience these sensations!

This is locating my consciousness deep into beautiful, wild and unchartered territory: my body, my sensual, sexual centre and from here I rise.

There is something so juicy and enlivening about female embodiment practices. To me it’s exercise made easy, which makes sense given that SFY is yoga** designed for women’s bodies and feminine flow.

So what’s this got to do with my placenta?

At the end of my practice – the all important rest-receptive phase (I surrender, I receive) – I find myself lying face down belly to Mother Earth breathing deeply into my core. Breathing into Mother. Full belly breaths.

I feel how I’m held and supported and I can completely let go.

It’s here that a SFY embodiment meditation comes to me…

BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NAVAL:

I imagine an umbilical cord coming from my naval connecting down through the Earth to the centre, connecting deep into Mother. I visualise this as a blood red ruby deep in the heart of the earth, sensing me sensing her.

I breathe through my naval.

I sense and I feel and I visualise my imaginary umbilical cord reaching all the way down, anchoring into this beautiful ruby, my cord branching out into roots that encircle and weave their way around the heart of the earth.

Big belly breaths from the fullness of my naval. Feeling into my now activated core, charged with the energy raised through the more active asanas of todays practice.

And then…

It feels like I ENTER the Great Mother, not just resting on her surface but a complete return to the blood red warmth and home that was the womb.

It feels like being enveloped in plum velvet and there’s light that filters through, golden light that turns the darkness to rusty iron red interwoven with blood vessels all busily communicating with one another. Where I am feels so alive, like a pulse, a beat, a heart.

And it is here I meet my placenta!

Ever so briefly, just a SENSE but that glimpse is enough to CHANGE EVERYTHING, like a ‘before kids/after kids’ kind of moment.

Just a momentary recognition, a faint hint of a deeply held remembrance.

Hello there! A warm hug from my heart. My placenta! My very special friend, it’s so good to see you again.

And then it is over and my morning practice is finished with an involuntary thank you on my lips.

Thank you!


Placenta Angels

According to Traditional Balinese culture, the placenta is considered our twin who shares the womb with us, keeping us company so we’re never alone and sharing the birth process together.

At birth, if the cord is not severed too quickly, the placenta gives us her share of our blood so that our brain, heart and all our organs are deeply innervated whilst our placenta’s body dies in order to stay with us in spirit. Our placenta spirit twin then accompanies us through life, appearing again in spirit at death to guide and accompany us to the other side so we don’t die alone.

In this way, the placenta may be considered our very own guardian angel. Remembering this relationship and choosing to open to this very special connection by talking to your placenta, or acknowledging them through art or ritual helps reestablish this unique and blessed bond.

Unfortunately, due to modern birth protocols most of us are severed from this sacred twin prematurely and we learn to fear separation, abandonment and aloneness. This is birth trauma – original sin if you will – and it is painful and may take a lifetime to heal, if at all.

– Robin Lim Placenta – The Forgotten Chakra


For your information…

*neutral spine – this is the super quick way to say a series of movements that engage the core. Essentially it means three steps: draw your naval toward your spine, pull up through your pelvic floor and engage your transverse abdominal muscles (which is a bit like imagining tightening your waist in a girdle. Voila! Now breathe! Ha ha, it’s easier then it sounds.

**yoga – yoga is the term I’ve used for convenience because it’s a quick and easy way to convey a concept, but in truth when I refer to SFY embodiment practices it is much more then traditional yoga asanas. The practice also incorporates ancient feminine Qi Gong (energy exercises) that have long been practiced by female Taoists to cultivate feminine sexual Qi as a means to health, vitality, rejuvenation, radiance, beauty…even immortality!


SACRED FEMALE YOGA EMBODIMENT PRACTICES


The benefits of embodiment practices can’t be taught. It’s something you can only experience for yourself through your own direct experience.


However, there is learning to be had in the sharing of stories, the kind of learning that transcends linear thought and speaks to the deeper knowing.

 
This is my sharing. May it inspire you to dive into your own Mystery..
.

x Peta


There has been a lot of evidence lately supporting the benefits of delayed cord clamping and this may have you considering a physiological third stage as part of your Birth Preferences.

As a natural birth educator, I’m excited by every step our culture takes to remember birth is a normal, everyday physiological event that your body is designed to do naturally. But recent conversations have me realising that, in educating women the benefits of requesting natural processes, the importance of also ensuring your birth attendants are skilled and comfortable in supporting Natural. 

 

Recently I’ve heard stories about women who’ve had normal spontaneous (not induced) labours and births and then big post partum haemorrhages (PPH) after a physiological third stage in hospital. One woman needed a transfusion of several units of blood and was transferred to Melbourne for intensive care.

These conversations prompted me to ask questions and I want to share with you what I learned in the hope of avoiding similar stories. My hope is to provide you with the information needed to safely support your choice to have a physiological third stage if that is what is important to you.

This is because these conversations have highlighted a huge red flag issue for women choosing a physiological third stage in an environment not familiar with supporting natural processes (i.e. hospital).

SO WHAT IS PHYSIOLOGICAL THIRD STAGE?

Third stage labor is the time immediately after your baby is born until the placenta and membranes have been born.

A physiological third stage is to allow the third stage to happen naturally, without the use of oxytocic drugs. The cord is left unclamped and uncut until it stops pulsating or until the placenta is born. The placenta is birthed by your own efforts and may take a significantly longer time then when active management is used.

Active management of third stage is the term given to the medical management of third stage. This usually involves being given an intramuscular injection of an oxytocic drug (syntocinon) immediately as your baby is being born; clamping and cutting the umbilical cord immediately after birth; and applying gentle traction to the end of the cord to birth the placenta reasonably quickly.

The risk associated with third stage is post partum haemorrhage (PPH). Active management has evolved as the reported best practice to reduce this risk, and in light of the stories of women who’ve opted for a physiological third stage and then had a PPH, this would seem to support this practice.

However, upon further questioning of these stories it is not the physiological third stage that increased the risk of PPH (nature did not intend for women to bleed to death after birth!) but the management of physiological third stage by staff not trained in supporting normal, natural processes.

In such a situation advising women the benefits of choosing physiological third stage may become dangerous if their care providers do not have the appropriate training and understanding of normal physiological childbirth: a situation that represents the vast majority of hospital based midwives, obstetricians and doctors.

 

To best illustrate this point, let me share with you a story…

My client had opted to have a physiological third stage. The labor and birth had gone beautifully.

As the baby is being born the doctor complies with the mothers wishes of a ‘physiological third stage’ and not given the standard injection of syntocinon.

BUT THEN almost as soon as the baby is born the doctor reverts to standard practice and within minutes of birth – without syntocinon – starts to apply cord traction. This means the doctor is pulling on the umbilical cord to try and hasten the delivery of the placenta. This is a permitable practice with active management as syntocinon is a powerful oxytocic drug that strongly causes the uterus to contract and the placenta to sheer away from the walls of the uterus within minutes.

Without administering this drug, applying traction to the cord is downright DANGEROUS.

Physiological third stage requires TIME for the mother’s natural oxytocin hormones to produce the uterine contractions that  help the placenta come away.

How long this takes is dependent on many factors including: a calm and quiet atmosphere; privacy; the undisturbed and unhurried ability to enjoy skin-to-skin contact with baby and eye gazing; taking time to initiate breastfeeding; time-out to recover from the activity of birthing; and the ability to adopt the position most comfortable.

It is estimated normal physiological third stage may take anywhere between 20mins to 2 hours.

The mother started hemorrhaging. The doctor administered syntocinon. The mother continued to weaken and the bleeding did not stop. Eventually she was admitted for surgery where it turned out she had retained placenta. She suffered massive hemorrhaging and required several litres of blood transfusion.

Sadly, her story will be recorded as a PPH because the mother refused syntocinon, and seen as further justification for the active management of third stage rather then the truth of another birth story where no one is held accountable for birth malpractice. This kind of malpractice due to ignorance of Natures processes is not an isolated incident and is a big concern for women requesting physiological third stage in hospital.

I wholeheartedly believe physiological third stage is the best practice for both mother and baby in an environment that supports normal physiological labor. I’d love to be able to say that for all women but that may not be so.

That’s not to say you can’t safely experience physiological third stage in a hospital setting, but if this is your preference please ensure your care providers understand how to support this practice.  

Please don’t assume that this is the case!

Remember, normal physiological childbirth is almost never witnessed in hospital.

Understand that it may be up to YOU to educate your care givers and provide them with information on how to work with Nature. This means ensuring a mandatory hands-off, do not interfere approach and respect for the body’s timing.

“Choosing to forego preventative oxytocics, to clamp late (if at all), and to deliver the placenta by our own effort all require forethought, commitment, and that we choose birth attendants that are comfortable and experienced with these choices.

A natural third stage is more than this, however – we must ensure respect for the emotional and hormonal processes of both mother and baby, remembering how unique this time is. Michel Odent stresses the importance of not interrupting, even with words, and believes that ideally the new mother feels unobserved and uninhibited in the first encounter with her baby. This level of non-interference is uncommon, even in home and birth centre settings.”

– Dr Sarah J Buckley, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering

Please click here for excellent research and scientifically backed information about the benefits of a natural third stage.


Did you know that placenta is rich in the hormone heparin as well as Vitamin K that helps stop bleeding? Thousands of years of evolution didn’t get it wrong! Traditional midwives know to encourage women to bite on a small piece of placenta cord or membrane after birth to aid and prevent post partum haemorrhage. Find out more about the benefits of placenta (without the squeamishness) with Placenta Encapsulation.