Placenta Prints: The Art that Starts in Your Womb
Oregon doula creates tree-like prints using new mom's placentas.
Raeben Nolan has a couple of reddish prints hanging on her wall. Unknowing visitors might mistake them for sketches of trees in autumn, but Nolan says they’re trees only in the metaphorical sense—they’re trees of life.
Nolan is the founder of Tree of Life Placenta Services. The initial mission of the Portland, Oregon-based business was to create capsules out of new moms’ placentas to be used as dietary supplements. But soon Nolan began offering other services as well, including placenta prints.
Nolan said she’s made hundreds of prints by laying high-quality paper over placentas that clients have retained after giving birth. Nolan doesn’t use paint; there’s enough blood in the placentas to make multiple prints.
“It’s a nice way to honor the birth and thank the placenta for growing a really healthy baby,” she told BabyZone.
Nolan provides the prints for free when clients buy a $250 placenta services package. Some of her clients have the prints framed and hung on walls, while others put them in baby books. Some get more creative.
“I had one dad, a comic book illustrator, draw all these baby fairies in a forest around a placenta tree,” she said.
Nolan, a doula and the specialized programs coordinator at Birthing Way Midwifery College in Portland, says that making placenta prints isn’t a new fad.
“It’s something that midwives have been doing for ages and ages, even in the middle ages, when paper was very rare,” she said.
But if you want someone to make a placenta print for you, you’ll have to do your research. Nolan only offers her services to clients living relatively close to her.
“For health and safety reasons, you can’t have them mail (placentas),” she said. “It’s limited by travel radius, basically.”
There are other placenta encapsulation businesses across the country, but not all offer placenta prints. (See here for a national directory of placenta services on Nolan’s website.) Nolan says moms can make their own—it just takes a bit of practice.
“The paper stays on the placenta for just a few moments. You lay it really gently to make sure the whole placenta comes into contact with the paper without squishing it. Then you lift it up and there’s your print,” she said.
Whether you go the DIY route or work with someone like Nolan, make sure you’ve notified the hospital where you’re giving birth that you’d like to keep the placenta—you may have to sign a waiver—and have a cooler ready to carry it home.
Just don’t forget to bring the baby home, too!
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