Placenta Myth: Who started the burying placenta tradition?
ALL MY LIFE, I never knew that the placenta of a newborn baby could cause so much troubles between a baby’s relatives and the hospital staff until last year.
When I mean trouble, I mean serious “wahala” of indescribable proportions.
Could it be because of the key role that this ‘organ’ plays in the life of a newborn baby while in the womb?
The placenta, as we all know, is the organ that develops in the womb of pregnant women which provides a source of oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby. But what some people don’t know is that it forms in the 4TH MONTH of pregnancy. That’s to say, at the beginning of the second trimester. From that point onwards, it is the live wire of the baby till it is born.
Now when a woman is in labour, the delivery process would not be complete, even after the baby had arrived, until the placenta is delivered too. This delivery of the placenta is known as the 3RD STAGE OF LABOUR!
From my days as a medical student undergoing postings in O&G till now that I’m a doctor, I’ve witnessed and/or taken part in a lot of deliveries.
Usually, after the baby is delivered successfully, the parents are always overjoyed. The new mum is beaming with smiles, even if she was operated upon; and the new dad, as should be expected, would be in cloud nine. He’d be grinning from ear to ear, greeting all the hospital staff and anyone else with both hands.
At that point, he’s at his most cooperative self. Even if, like Herod’s daughter, you ask him to get the head of John the Baptist because his wife urgently needs it, he’d gladly oblige in a heartbeat.
What of the baby’s placenta? Nobody remembers to ask. Even if you remind him, he’d say, “Abeg forget that one!”
Who e epp?
However, to a tiny population of parents, the placenta is just as important as the newborn baby. To hand them their baby, you must hand them the accompanying placenta as well. Failure to do so and all h*ll will be let loose right there.
It took me a few minutes then to understand that there are a set of traditional beliefs attached to the placenta, and it cuts across a lot of cultures and traditions, including some parts of the Igbo land.
Some believe that the placenta has to be buried by the baby’s parents for the baby to be prosperous in life; others believe it must be preserved in the family, maybe kept as a sort of trophy [something that smells so badly when it starts to decay]. However, some cultures believe the mother of the baby has to “eat” the placenta for the good of the baby’s future.
E dey shock me o! 😱😱
Last year, a new father welcomed a boy in our labour ward. The man himself was tall and huge. Immediately, he saw his bundle of joy, the next question was: “Nurse, wey my baby placenta?”
And because the nurse he asked the question wasn’t the one who took the delivery, she could not tell him where it was. Before you knew what next, Baba pull shirt for inside labour ward o! He use hand smash on top table, and next thing he was fuming.
Sweat dripped from every pore on his body, and the veins on his neck were so taut you could pull on them like guitar strings. He marched to me and demanded the baby’s placenta or he would crash his menacing fists into my face.
Nna eeh! Lekwanu m nsogbu! See me see wahala!
Everywhere was getting rowdy as the nurse that took the delivery came back from attending another delivery and then produced this baby’s placenta where she kept it in the hope that the family would ask [which is the usual practice now]. This was when the baba calmed down.
Me I jejely escape o!
I cannor coman have a swollen face sake of a baby placenta. 😅😅😅 Abeg I no fit shout!
So lemme ask everyone, especially the mothers or other married folks: What are your views on the baby’s placenta? Did you demand for that of your baby after its delivery? Or you didn’t care? If yes, who started the burying placenta tradition?
~ © Caséy Amaefule (MBBS BENIN)