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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!

Gloria’s Answer:

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.” 🙂

13 thoughts on “PLACENTA Q & A

  1. So long as the bleeding isn’t bad, there’s no major rush to get the placenta out. It will come when it’s ready. Things like cord traction are far more dangerous than waiting for a placenta a bit longer (barring hemmorage). If you’re really concerned, one traditional method I heard of is to tickle the back of the throat with a feather.

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  3. I also have a trick to share- have the mama try to blow up one of those tiny balloons, or long skinny ones that are hard to blow up. (Same principle as the long necked bottle- but balloons are easier to tuck in your bag) 🙂

    Love your posts Gloria! Such great info for us all!

  4. I just got a visual of a “post partum kit” containing a feather, a bed pan, a bottle, a balloon, a can of pepper and all of it carried by an Inuit grandmother! Every woman should have that combo available, just in case.

  5. well I birthed a healthy little boy at home just under a week ago. Again no contractions after the birth….in the end I took some chinese herbs a mix of black and blue cohash which within 15 to 20 mins bought on contractions and I successfully birthed the placenta. Oh it was so exciting to be able to do it myself. I am now popping the placenta pills and feel fantastic. I hope all the comments and suggestions in this post help others out in the same situation. thanks for your time to those that offered their advice. :o)

  6. I have a question!!! placentas mysteriously quit providing for baby per what their OB says.. based on his lack of hands on skills or the accuracy of ultrasound for determining the size of baby… “baby quit growing”

    do you have anything that can be shared about that?

  7. Thank you SO much for this!!!!

    I am currently pregnant with my 2nd baby and had to transfer into hospital after an otherwise very wonderful homebirth to ‘deal’ with my retained placenta. While having to transfer didn’t ruin my experience I would certainly like to avoid it happening again. I am trying to get as much thinking and planning done now so that I can enjoy the experience and hopefully being that it is my 2nd it will all go smoothly.

    Thank you for everything you do!!

  8. How common is retained placenta? I only have one baby and ended up having a D&C around week 12 for retained pieces. I retained at birth (at home) and was having a little hemorrhagic-had a shot of pitocin-most of it came out. My midwives stayed with me for 6 hrs after the birth and my bleeding had slowed down so much when they left. I had great milk supply by day 4-no breastfeeding issues. Then around week 3 I passed a BIG piece of placenta when I went to the bathroom, probably 6in long and 2in wide. I had some bright red spotting but no heavy bleeding. Then come around to week 12-I was still having bleeding-nothing heavier than a pantyliner necessary. I went in and had an ultrasound and there was still a thumb size piece up there. Is there something that made this happen (midwife only used gentle cord traction after a bit to see if I was bleeding behind what was partially detatched)? Should I worry about it happening again with my subsequent births?

  9. Have a dear friend who went to sleep and birthed placenta many hours after birth… If bleeding is ok and mama is fine try not to stress. Midwives want to go home after birth and this is understandable but we do women a disservice if we rush birth of placenta.We have all had those dayslong births, they are tiring, but birth is not done until placenta is out. Watch mama and if all is well please don’t hurry unless intuition is speaking.

  10. Thank you so much for all these wonderful suggestions! Nutrition is a big focus in my practice. With that being said, I have told my dear sugar-deprived pregnant women(lol) to get their favorite high quality chocolate to savor after baby is born. The endorphin release helps them to relax and let go. Another trick taught by my mentor, Melody Pendleton, is a homeopathic called Gossypium (aka cotton root) @ 200 C potency.

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