Updated February 27, 2022
In most of the developed world, once a baby is delivered and their umbilical cord has been severed, the placenta, or “afterbirth,” is thoughtlessly disposed of as medical waste. However, many traditional cultures have beliefs and customs that honor the placenta and its important role in the bringing a child into the world.
“In Bali, for example, the placenta, or ari-ari, is said to live on in spirit as one of the child’s four siblings or guardian angels, which can be called on in times of need. A Balinese child greets his or her placenta on rising in the morning and prays to it for protection at night. Every new moon and full moon, and on each holy day, offerings are placed at the burial site of the placenta.
After death, the placenta is believed to accompany the soul of the deceased to heaven to testify as to whether the person fulfilled his or her duty in this lifetime,” says Dr. Sarah Buckley (191).
There are many different and beautiful ways to honor the placenta after birth. The following are a few ideas.