It is safe to say that actor Matthew McConaughey has not been restrained on the subject of his newborn son, Levi.
Already he has told us about the ‘tribal” rhythms of his partner’s contractions, and the Biblical origin of the baby’s name and now, this week, he has let us know what he plans to do with Levi’s placenta: plant it.
‘When I was in Australia, they had a placenta tree that was on the river,” McConaughey said, ‘and all the placentas of all that tribe … went under that one tree and it was this huge behemoth of just health and strength.”
In the West placentas are usually incinerated, but placenta-planting ceremonies are becoming more common. They are considered a fitting manner in which to commemorate the birth, and help to enrich the soil — at Harleyford Road Community Garden in London, for example, placentas help fertilise the plants. Placenta-planting has long been part of other cultures: the Maori believe it reinforces our bond with the Earth; the Navajo, native Hawaiians and Costa Ricans do the same.
McConaughey was not the first actor to share his placenta plans; in 2006, Tom Cruise let it be known that he planned to eat his daughter Suri’s placenta. Eating the placenta is known as ‘placentophagy” and some claim it is beneficial to the health of the mother. Accordingly, placenta recipe websites now offer step-by-step guides to everything from roast afterbirth to placenta lasagne.
Finally, if you are at a loss with what to do with your placenta, why not consider placenta art? You’ll need paper, a placenta, blood and amniotic fluid. ‘Many parents have found this to be a fun activity as well as giving them an artistic keepsake,” notes one website. —