A Day in the Life of a Placenta Specialist
A guest post by Doula and Placenta Specialist, Deborah Rotunno
I was at home catching up on some much needed paperwork when a call came into our business line. A doula was just coming from a birth at a local hospital. Fresh in her hands, she had a cooler with a newly birthed placenta. She had not yet been home from the 17 hour labor and wanted to drop it off for encapsulation as quickly as possible. I immediately called my partner Danielle to see if she was home to receive the new placenta.
Driving to Danielle’s (that is our ‘office’) brought to mind the first time I ever held a placenta. Interestingly enough, it was Nilah’s placenta. Nilah happens to be Danielle’s daughter. It took me a while before I could pick ‘her’ up. I needed her to know who I was and what exactly I was going to be doing with her. I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly, but I wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions that swept over me. I felt nauseous. I felt a rush of coolness run right through me. I felt Nilah. I remember thinking “I wonder what Danielle is feeling?” Later she shared with me that working on Nilah’s placenta was a little uncomfortable for her. It was hard for her to physically handle something that was once inside of her own body, nourishing her baby. Luckily, that feeling was individual to her own placenta.
By the time I arrived at Danielle’s she already prepared our station for ‘Chloe’s’ preparation. Danielle and I take pleasure in working together for our services. We honor the placenta, chat about birth and make a day of it. We have worked together on many placentas and have observed that placentas are like snowflakes. They come in all different sizes, thicknesses and shapes. Some cords are short, some are fat, some are twisted and some are still full of the life it left behind.
Chloe’s placenta was hours new. It was the smallest placenta we have seen yet. Danielle and I started to wonder more about Chloe. How big was she? Does placenta size have anything to do with baby size? We didn’t know. The rest of the preparation was undoubtedly the easiest we have ever encountered. We removed the umbilical cord and it simply melted away as if Chloe had given it to us. We molded the cord into a heart and placed it in the dehydrator. Removing the membranes was equally as easy. The more we explored Chloe the more we learned how relaxed she was. Preparing the placenta based on Traditional Chinese Medicine is the method that we prefer when encapsulating. After the precise time, it is vital to slice the placenta into small pieces to prepare for dehydrating. Each sliver was effortlessly divided as if cutting through butter. Danielle commented on how laid-back Chloe was compared to some of our other placentas.
Danielle stays with Chloe during the night and finishes the dehydration process. A new day brings the actual encapsulation of Chloe. The dehydrated placenta needs to be powdered so it can find its new home inside the capsules. Chloe, as you probably guessed, developed into a fine powder in record time with simplicity. Chloe was ready to go home.
I spoke to the doula who introduced Chloe to us less than 24 hours ago and mentioned to her how Danielle and I loved working with Chloe. I explained how agreeable she was, how each new step she opened up to us, that she was pleasant and graceful. The doula paused…. “You know Deb,” she said, “Chloe’s mom was the same EXACT way in labor”.
As placenta specialists we may not necessarily know the story behind each placenta beforehand; I have learned that Danielle and I will discover a story in each new placenta we hold. If we just listen.
For further information please visit Long Island Placenta Services or call 631-574-2250
About the Author: Debbie has two children ages 16 and 15. She has been a labor and postpartum doula on Long Island for 14 years, and in fact, provided me with nursing support after each of my children were born. She is a doula with the Doula Network of Long Island, a member of the Long Island Doula Association and a Placenta Specialist with Long Island Placenta Specialists.