Category Archives: Placenta Medicine


Which placenta cake takes the cake?

This gallery contains 6 photos.

My doula & placenta encapsulation business is growing, and my first trainee has just finished her certification process to become a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist.  We need to celebrate – with a cake!  A placenta cake, to be exact. No, I … Continue reading

Elephant Seal Placenta Ravaged by Hungry Seagulls

Some of us get to hang out with human placentas on a regular basis, but it’s not often that we get a window into the world of animal placentas.

Photographer Anita Ritenour captured this sequence in 2009.  A placenta is discovered and devoured by a flock of seagulls after a mother Elephant Seal gives birth on a California beach.

I love how bloody the seagulls are in this last photo.

Mama and her newborn seem to be oblivious to the hullabaloo around them.  You can watch a short but stunning video of their birth here.

Birth Story: A Home Birth at the Hospital

Susannah and her husband spent months planning & preparing for a homebirth. they hired a homebirth midwife, hired me as their doula, took natural childbirth classes, ordered a birth kit, and got their house ready for the birth and the baby. then, in her third trimester, the almighty dollar sign reared its ugly head, and they realized that their homebirth would be financially impossible.

if they went to the hospital to give birth, Susannah’s health insurance would pay all of the $10,000+ bill, whereas a homebirth would be less expensive ($3,000) but they’d have to pay the entire bill themselves.  Susannah grieved the loss of her fantasy homebirth, but had to quickly move on and embrace a new fantasy of the perfect hospital birth with homebirth-style care.

when her baby’s birth-day finally came, Susannah’s fantasy came true.  she labored beautifully at home late into the night, until transition, often the most difficult part of labor. most women rush themselves frantically to the hospital long before this advanced stage of labor, but instead Susannah and her mother and i sat quietly in the darkness of her home, massaging and reassuring and hydrating and timing, for hours as her body prepared her to meet her baby.

it was beautiful to watch her disappear inside her mind with each surge of pressure & pain, and then re-awaken to our voices as the contraction passed.  Susannah’s mother held her tightly, loving being needed, and Susannah loving being cared for.  we created a quiet, calm, and safe space for the mother inside Susannah to begin to emerge, and we waited. Continue reading

The ‘Placenta Liberation Front’…an Army of Egalitarian Placenta Crafters

In this world of price tags and dollar signs, the Placenta Liberation Front is a creative, refreshing perspective on the age old practice of placenta medicine–or what Phoenix midwife Shell Walker refers to as “placenta crafting.”

So what’s so liberating about placenta crafting?

First of all, Shell offers FREE placenta encapsulation training.  That’s a radical departure from the online training courses in the US and UK that charge hundreds of dollars, or the hard-to-find, real live training workshops that charge the big bucks, too.

Second of all, Shell views placenta knowledge as a commonly shared resource that should be accessible to everyone, rather than copyrighted, trademarked and patented.

In fact, the only thing she asks of her placenta students is that they pay it forward.  In exchange for receiving her free training, she asks students to commit to providing 5 free placenta encapsulations over the next year, take a refresher class after a year, and subsequently train at least one other person in placenta encapsulation within a years time.

Shell’s intentions and the way that she frames placenta work seem to come from a deeply wholistic perspective.  She advocates for a method of placenta work “that speaks to the subtle essence of placenta crafting.”

When are the hands better than a knife?
When are bare hands better than gloves?
When is mortar and pestle better than an electric grinder?
And what of our intentions, our thoughts, our connections, our sacred breath and their contribution to the process?
For these reasons and more, I would love to see the art and soul of placenta crafting preserved and passed from hand to hand.  Live and in person.
This is my contribution to that end
100 newly trained placenta crafters by the end of 2012
Free of commerce
Free of discrimination
Free of territories
Free of market control
Free of price setting
Full  of knowledge
Full  of care
Full  of consideration
Full  of love

Imagine an army of egalitarian placenta crafters, armed with a mortar & pestle and size 00 gel caps!  Marching forward into the birth world, spreading placenta knowledge wherever they go.

I look forward to keeping track of the Placenta Liberation Front, and this new direction for the lineage of placenta knowledge.

Midwifery 101 Online with Gloria Lemay

Childbirth guru Gloria Lemay is offering an exciting new online series of courses she calls MIDWIFERY EDUCATION 101

Whether you’re an ambitious doula or an aspiring midwifery student, the 16 remaining classes (the series started November 25) will be jam-packed with info we can all use. 


Get together a study group or invite your birth junkie friends over to hear the lectures & see the Powerpoints.  Here’s the class schedule:

  • Dec 16 Prenatal Clinic visit
  • Jan 6 Palpation, Blood pressure
  • Jan 13 Rh negative blood type
  • Jan 20 Fetal circulation
  • Jan 27 Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
  • Feb 3 Cervix—effacement, dilation
  • Feb 10 Confident nutrition counseling
  • Feb 17 Gestational diabetes prevention, screening
  • Feb 24 Anemia and blood work
  • March 3 Water birth
  • March 10 Genetics for midwives
  • March 17 Perineum, preventing tears
  • March 24 Newborn exam
    March 31 Placenta (cut and clamp cord, examining)
  • April 7 Twins and breech presentations
  • April 14 Teaching childbirth education

Classes are $7.99 for 60 minute sessions and you can choose individual classes or the entire series.  Check out Gloria Lemay’s blog for details and to register.

Placenta-ful Day with Robin Lim


Ibu Robin Lim during a late night Q&A session after screening the new film about her work after the tsunami in Bali, 'Guerrilla Midwife'


Yesterday was a placenta-ful day, learning about placenta practices from Ibu Robin Lim.

She also screened the new documentary film about her, ‘Guerilla Midwife,’ which I’m psyched to bring back home and share with my community.

Lim considers herself a “radical intactivist,” meaning that she advocates for never cutting the umbilical cord–leaving the placenta fully attached to the baby until it separates itself after a few days, which in the U.S. is known as lotus birth.

“People ask me, ‘Why are you waiting so long to cut this cord?’ and I say, ‘Why are you asking me that?  I should be asking you why you want me to.'”


Cord burning is practiced at Bumi Sehat to prevent tetanus infection from unsterilized instruments. (photo courtesy of Unfolding Lotus Birth Services)


At Bumi Sehat, Ibu Robin’s clinic in Bali, she noticed that so many infants delivered by traditional birth attendants were dying of tetanus from unsterilized instruments.  So Ibu Robin began re-training the attendants in the technique of cord burning, where the umbilical cord is severed by using two candles to burn through it in 10-15 minutes.  The practice has been traditionally used in the remaining indigenous areas of Bali, and Ibu Robin is reintroducing it to the general population, and bringing safety with it.

Placenta encapsulation isn’t popular at Bumi Sehat, because when it’s done, the mother misses out on the ritual that has been created around leaving the cord and placenta intact.  Ibu Robin did say, however, that she’s had moms do placenta encapsulation even after allowing the placenta and cord to self-detach after several days.

I’ll also got an enscribed copy of Ibu Robin’s new book Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra, out the only 108 copies in the world!  Stay tuned for a review of it.

Announcing the Full Spectrum Doula Network!

There are unique challenges to being pro-choice, feminist, queer, or a person of color in a doula world that is predominantly none of those things. seeks to change that!

This website is a brand new online networking community for Full Spectrum Doulas and Radical Doulas. Create a profile (don’t worry, it’s all free!) and take a look around–there are forums, blogs, photos, videos, and event announcements, all filled with engaging information.  From critical analysis of the state of reproductive health care, to processing and debriefing from your experiences as a doula, to weekly blogs on placenta medicine and herbs for reproductive health. is the place to develop your understanding of doula support and create community with other radical reproductive health advocates.

The intent of is to create a safe space to share insight and experiences of our work within the whole continuum of reproductive health care. This site also serves to build community within the radical doula movement, embracing the diversity of our own personal identities as doulas and reproductive health advocates.

Let’s get this radical doula party started!  Check out the website, and consider doing the following:

1) Post about yourself in the ‘Introductions’ forum
2) Add yourself to the ‘Member Map’
3) Upload Photos & Videos – of your amazing birth experience, you with clients, your volunteer doula group doing a training, etc.
4) Comment on or add a Blog Post
5) MOST IMPORTANTLY, Participate in a few discussions in the Forums, or post a couple new ones, etc.  This is where the real action is!
6) Join or start a Group
7) Add Events

Please disseminate this announcement far & wide!  Forward, re-post, blog about it, and join us on Facebook.

FSDN’s current sponsor is Confluence Media Collective, an independent radical publisher.  We need more sponsors!  For a $30 donation, sponsors have their ad/logo and link placed on the site for a month.  Please consider sponsoring this fantastic community resource.