Placenta Question & Answer
Lee asked: Unfortunately with my first birth my placenta was retained. All up I had the placenta in me for 12 hours. I had a homebirth and after an hour I had an injection of syntocin to help the placenta still nothing. This was the last resort after pushing, cord traction, squatting etc. I then tried for the next few hours to coax the stubborn placenta out – unfortunately after hours of waiting hospital was inevitable…..I was put on a drip which didn’t bring on anything and finally had a nurse use cord traction again to pull the placenta out. I really would love any info on natural remedies, having another homebirth, feeling confident that all will go smoothly but just want to have something prepared!
Thanks for asking the question. Your anxiety about having this scenario repeat is understandable. I worked with a woman last year who had a similar experience with her first birth and I thought I had reassured her completely that it wouldn’t happen again. Right before her birth, she said to me: “Gloria, if the baby doesn’t seem to want to nurse in the first half hour after birth, do you think my husband should suck on my nipples?” I knew that meant she was still obsessing about the placenta coming out.
My reply to her (and to you): “Molly, I am confident about your placenta coming out smoothly after the birth.
There will be no rush and no need to do anything except enjoy the amazing feeling of that slippery, soft, delicious newborn in your arms. It is the little (or big) sounds of the baby and the skin to skin contact that floods the body with oxytocin and clamps the uterus down around the placenta.”
Now, only because your busy mind needs to have some “things to do”, I’m going to give you some tricks to get the placenta out naturally that I have heard about over the years:
1. Sniff a little bit of pepper to make yourself sneeze. Sneezing will expel the placenta (same principle as when you pee a bit when you sneeze)
2. Blow hard into a narrow necked bottle. Blowing into a bottle uses those diaphragm muscles that make you bear down
3. Have someone stick two fingers down your throat to make you gag (this is something that was done in the Far North of Canada by an Inuit grandmother to help her grand daughter get her placenta birthed. I filed it in a corner of my mind but have never used it, sounds a bit harsh but was apparently effective).
4. Buy a bedpan. If the placenta doesn’t come out with you reclining and enjoying your baby, you could sit on the bedpan after the cord is cut and just bending your body forward in a safe space will probably give you the feeling of “needing to push” and out the placenta will plop.
With second babies, everything goes so smoothly. Remember these are tips to keep your mind from doing too much obsessing prior to the birth. I can’t wait to hear your birth story, especially the part where you say “Gloria was right, the placenta just came out smoothly and no tricks were needed.” 🙂