Here is another instance of my being out of touch with some of the modern, if bizarre, quasi-medical stuff that people get up to.
I had written a piece for the local tabloid, Front Porch (which I will post later or look on line http://frontporchfredericksburg.com/current-issue/), about a friend, Mandy, who is a doula – that is a non-medical, or lay birth assistant, who provides practical and emotional support to pregnant couples and assist in the delivery
She then invited me to do a “Facebook Live” interview – which was a novelty to me. We sat on the couch, she holding her i-phone on a selfie stick and answered questions from Mandy’s Facebook followers about medical/obstetric issues.
We are both advocates of the idea that patients should be in charge of their own care, and providing they are not insisting on anything that is a threat to the mothers or baby’s health, they can manage their care however they want.
It’s maybe worth making the point that “patient” is probably an inappropriate term when applied to obstetrics, because, as the sister on the obstetric ward pointed out to my fellow wet-behind-the-ears medical students, and I, when we started our obstetric rotation in our medical training, “this is the one place in the practice of medicine where you are dealing with a normal process” – despite it having been very “medicalized” by the profession.
When we were “off the air” and shooting the breeze afterwards, she was telling me that she had to go to the hospital to pick up a placenta.
This caught my attention as I have been writing about the case of a woman with a pregnancy with a single umbilical artery (which can be associated with multiple, severe congenital abnormalities). And, as the umbilical artery is just an off-shoot of the placenta, I was reading about placentas.
Reading about how we have evolved a long cord - average 2 foot long, which seems totally unnecessary when the baby floats around just inches from the placenta. And this long cord can cause complications, like getting wrapped around the baby’s neck, or prolapsed and pinched off, cutting off the supply of oxygenated blood to the baby.
But supposedly this is a throw back from a long time back and allows the baby to be born but picked up by the mother as defense from predators – but who are likely to eat the placenta/afterbirth.
Hopefully these days there are not too many predators in the delivery room – or even at home deliveries. But the placenta is still considered good to eat it seems.
It is commonplace for animals to eat their afterbirth in the wild. But we are civilized these days – aren’t we?
Rather than wild animals or predators, these days its modern mothers who are consume their placentas - from what Mandy was telling me.
Women who believe the claims that it will provide them the nutrients and hormones stored in the placenta during the pregnancy and help prevent post partum depression and augment breast feeding.
I am intrigued, if a little grossed out, to read about, recipes for placenta pizzas, placenta Slurpee’s, pate or burritos. And read about people just chowing down on raw placenta in the delivery room. - I’m sorry to say I do not find some bloody, gory thing that has just popped out of some woman’s vagina very appetizing. But here I am talking as a man, and with no personal experience of parturition.
This must be just a few wacko mothers I am thinking to myself. Then am brought up short by Mandy, who I’m sure does not attend wacko mothers, telling me she has to go pick up a cooler from the hospital – a cooler containing the placenta of a woman she recently delivered.
Mandy, it seems, provides a service of drying out placentas and grinding them up to make placenta capsules for the mother to take.
This interesting nutritional practice – whom some claim is verging on cannibalism - right here in my own back yard.