I spent a lot of time thinking and worrying about childbirth when I was first pregnant. What would it feel like? How would I deal? I didn't, however, give any thought to what would come next, otherwise known as the afterbirth. It turns out the organ that provided my baby with nourishment and protection during my pregnancy was warm, wet, and really freaking gross. Since then, I have heard a lot of stories about what other moms think the afterbirth actually feels like, and can tell you that a birth class doesn't do it justice.
When asked what the afterbirth feels like, people described their placentas as warm, slimy, bloody, veiny, and generally disgusting. Some thought it was pretty cool, too, and even went so far as to ask if they could see and touch it. Some moms found the experience to be a pretty amazing one, while others don't really remember the final stage of birth because, well, they were pretty focused on their new baby. I mean, can you blame them? The answer is no.
The most surprising thing for some people was that the placenta would need a little help actually exiting the body. I know I had no idea that my midwife would have to press down, and hard, on my uterus to help the afterbirth along, and that I would need a shot of pitocin to slow the bleeding down afterwards. I certainly didn't expect my placenta to slide out of me with a contraction and plop wetly on the table. Yikes. Then my midwife asked me if I wanted to take it home to bury it under a tree or eat it (something I had no idea was a thing people did) and I had to choke back a little bit of vomit. Hard pass, thank you very much.
If you are pregnant and want to know what to expect when it's time to deliver the afterbirth, or you just like being completely grossed out, read on for some first-hand experiences with the magical (and kind of gross) placenta.
"It was f*cking amazing. Like, almost orgasmic it felt so damn good. It felt like a heavy, warm blob coming out, and then immediately after it was the greatest physical relief I've ever felt. I felt very little relief when my baby came out. There was still so much pressure from that huge placenta. My husband said it was bigger than our daughter, so no wonder."
"I had an epidural. I felt some light tugging, but really didn't even notice when the placenta was delivered. My wonderful OB-GYN respectfully asked if I was doing anything special with my placenta. We asked what they normally did with it and decided that the hospital's normal procedure of having it incinerated was acceptable to us. Off it went."
"I was happy when it was out because that meant they could stop pushing on my stomach. It was just warm coming out, but it didn't hurt like my baby did."
"I only felt the afterbirth with my second. The cramps and contractions were almost worse than delivery, but the afterbirth delivery was celebrated by the midwives in attendance almost the same as the delivery of my son. I had a friend with me, as well, who had never been allowed to see her placentas. Being able to share that experience with her was very meaningful for us both."
"Nobody tells you it actually feels better/more relief than when the whole baby coming out. Icing on the cake."
"My doctor was tugging on the cord, and it felt very uncomfortable. He was in a hurry to get it done so he could get home. It finally came out and he let us view it for moment. He showed us the sac that baby was living in. It was amazing. I couldn't help but think it was disgusting that people ingest it, though."
"My first placenta delivered easily. It felt like a huge clot (I clot horribly during my period, like chicken liver size), but didn't really hurt. Second one, it was stuck a bit, and they had to tug. I was worried it might shred but it ended up delivering intact. Could feel the tugging, but no pain. The third was an emergency C-section, so again, tugging sensations all through the event, but no pain. No one asked me if I wanted to see it, or what I wanted done with it, and I didn't care. I always asked later if they were normal size or huge because of gestational diabetes, but they said they were all fine."
"I had three C-sections, but after my middle child was born they had me deliver the placenta. Granted I was totally dilated, and my baby was 11 pounds so I thought, 'Sure, why not.' It felt like jelly. It was so strange and the more I pushed, the more it felt like more was coming down. It was strange."
"We did delayed cord clamping, and afterwards the nurse was doing fundal massage as I did skin-to-skin with my baby. The placenta came really soon after, but I had a lot of Pitocin during the last few hours of labor. I felt a huge pressure building up in my abdomen, then a contraction, and I swear I felt it peeling away from my uterus. I didn't have to push, it just seemed to sort of tumble out of me. I warned them it was coming, and it was like plop. I have a photo of it somewhere, LOL."
"I didn’t have an epidural, so I felt everything in all its raw glory. Several minutes after delivering my son, I had the typical hormone-crashing shakes, and I experienced an overwhelming urge to push again. The placenta coming out felt much smaller, softer, and squishier than the baby. I felt a sense of closure and release when it was fully delivered, like finally the birth was over."
"With my first, my placenta didn't budge for an hour. My midwife had to go elbow-deep to scrape it out of my uterus. I hemorrhaged shortly afterwards. With my second, I barely noticed it. Quick push and bloop, all done."
"This is kind of gross, but it was like the best poop of my life."
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