The night we threw out my 15-month-old placenta

Our freezer had this problem of icing up so we couldn’t close it properly.

Well, the two were probably related.

It was also icing up because we weren’t closing it properly.

Last week, it finally said: “ENOUGH!”

The damn thing wouldn’t close.

I chopped away at the ice with my Chinese chopper (at least that’s what we call it in Trinidad).

I held the baby back.

She wanted to help with a wooden spoon – such youthful optimism.

Finally the reality sunk in.

I would have to defrost it.

No, you don’t understand!

It WAS big deal!

My first thought was: “Better get some towels.”

This was quickly followed by: “OH NO, THE PLACENTA!”

What the hell would I do with my placenta?

Or Talitha’s placenta?

Which of us does it really belong to?

This organ connected us.

It was a part of my baby.

It was a part of me.

I’m not particularly trying to go deep on that point but this is something I still can’t quite get my head around.

I thought through my options.

First, I Googled “how to cremate placenta”.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so much), it didn’t yield many (or any) useful results.

I wonder if anyone in the history of Google has ever searched: “things to do with my out of date placenta”?

I thought about drying it out and turning it to powder but 1. that sounded like a lot of work and 2. I kept coming across links that talked about contamination and why you should get rid of it quickly so wasn’t sure sure about putting it in my oven.

Let’s go back.

My placenta was fifteen, well, almost SIXTEEN months old.

And all that time in my freezer.

Probably a health hazard but let’s not judge.

It’s gone now.

I took it home because I’d meant to eat it.

But then, I’d also meant to have this beautiful, peaceful home birth.

I’ve told you my birth story before.

Anyway, when in hospital, we asked to take the placenta home.

They balked.

They wondered what to put it in.

Laurence and my mum took it home and put it in the freezer.

I felt good about it.

It was one of the few bits of my birth plan that went to, well, plan.

Every health care professional who came to see us commented on us having taken it home.

They talked about people who buried it and planted trees.

I didn’t tell them I planned to eat it.

When I got home the next day, I’d clean forgot about it.

The day after that, I couldn’t be bothered with sorting it out now that it was frozen.

It’s actually a good thing I didn’t.

I later read it’s not a good idea to eat your placenta if there’s been meconium in water.

There’s your fact of the day.

It might be a fact.

I can’t think of what the reference is.


So here I was taking everything out of the freezer, including a human body part.

I considered burying it in the backyard.

There were problems with this too: 1. Laurence would probably need to do it and I knew he didn’t really want to, 2. I should really ask our landlords and they might have said yes but I felt weird about it and 3. I didn’t like the idea of it being buried in some random land in Bristol (we rent).

So, I ended up ringing up the delivery suite reception.

“Hi, umm, I’ve got a bit of an odd request.”

“Yes? How can I help?”

“Well, you see, umm, I gave birth at your hospital and took my placenta home and now I want to bring it back?”

“Excuse me?”

(Me, blushing on my side of this phonecall)

“It’s just that I meant to do something with my placenta and it’s been in my freezer and now I don’t know what else to do with it? Can I bring it in for you to dispose of it?”

(She laughs)

(Still laughing)

“Yes, sure. Bring it in. That’s no problem.”

Thank God she didn’t ask about the date of birth.

I kind of wish I’d done some sort of art with my placenta, our placenta.

Or least attempted something meaningful like planting it.

But it just wasn’t practical.

And now that it’s gone, I’m actually OK with that.

In fact, though I was a little emotional while making the decision to send it back to the hospital, once the decision was made, I felt a quite a blanket of peace fall over me.

I think I may even have finally come to terms with our birth.

It was difficult but it was ours.

I met up with a couple of childbirth educators the other day who said: “There are no bad births.”


I think I’m there.


  1. October 12, 2012 / 2:31 pm

    Brilliant, brilliant post – was your placenta in a bag? Or was it stuffed next to the fish fingers? I’m glad you felt okay with how things turned out in the end… ps I love the fact you rang the hospital to ask if you could take it back – I wish I had been that lady on the other end of the phone – comedy moment!

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      October 12, 2012 / 2:55 pm

      Haha! I think everyone who’s had dinner at our house in the last year just shuddered at your comment! It was, in fact, fully contained. The lady on the other end of the phone was also the one on reception when my husband took it in! She certainly had her night’s amusement.

  2. October 12, 2012 / 5:45 pm

    It sounds like this experience, though funny, had a really serious side for you: a way to come to terms with your birth experience, to let go of any negative feelings about it and move towards acceptance. I love it.
    Lisa recently posted..A fundamental belief about children

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      October 13, 2012 / 6:37 pm

      It definitely did. Acceptance sort of snuck up on me unawares.

  3. Tracy
    October 12, 2012 / 8:53 pm

    Wow. i love your honesty. So thought provoking! Glad the hospital said yes! xxx

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      October 13, 2012 / 6:38 pm

      Haha, I’m not sure what I would have done if they said no!

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      October 13, 2012 / 6:38 pm

      I know! I can scarcely believe how she’s grown.

  4. October 12, 2012 / 10:14 pm

    Gotta say I’d never have thought to take mine home. I didn’t even see it. I signed for them to take it for the cord blood or whatever it is they use it for. Certainly sounds like you have come to terms with your labour experience. Its a cliche but its true time heals all wounds :0)
    MsXpat recently posted..Cloth Nappies V Disposable Nappies: an economic question

  5. October 14, 2012 / 8:49 am

    I love this post. I have to admit it made my throat close up a little whilst reading but I soldiered on and finished my breakfast regardless 😀
    With regards to eating placenta, I wouldn’t have liked to have eaten my first as it wasn’t great. I had placenta previa and a few bleeds so it wasn’t in the best of conditions. My second however was a beast! It was massive and looked pretty appetising as far as placentas go. Hubby had a job to cut the cord second time round!
    Kate, Scattymumofboys recently posted..Flashback Friday and it’s Pooh Bear’s turn

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      October 15, 2012 / 10:29 pm

      And I was so hoping to serve you up a placenta lasagne, my lovely!

  6. Lucy
    October 17, 2012 / 1:24 pm

    Mine stayed in the freezer for seven months and then I threw it in the bin when we were clearing out our freezer before moving! Probably completely illegal but I don’t think anyone noticed… I too was going to bury it and plant a tree but YOU HAVE TO DIG A FIVE FOOT HOLE! That’s a pretty big hole.

  7. October 19, 2012 / 4:27 pm

    Ah it’s a shame your placenta didn’t get some epic send off, but it sounds like it really helped clear a bit of negativity surrounding your experience, big hugs and loves to you!

    Was lovely to meet you and your gorgeous little girl on Wednesday at Born!
    Fern & Penny xox

  8. April 18, 2013 / 10:23 pm

    I never even thought of taking my placenta home but I know I would have ended up with it in the freezer 16 months later too. Glad it helped give you some closure x
    Bex @ The Mummy Adventure recently posted..One of Each

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      April 18, 2013 / 11:48 pm

      Thanks, it really did. I’m not so sure I’ll take it home next time unless I’m a lot more organised!

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