PORTLAND – Placenta is being used to create art in a growing trend for new moms.
The placenta prints, as they’re called, involve placing the placenta and the umbilical cord on acid-free paper and making a work of art that looks something like a tree. Some families frame and display their prints while others save them as personal keepsakes.
A local company called Portland Placenta Services specializes in making placenta prints and was featured in the NBC Today Show’s Mom blog this week.
Doula Raeben Nolan runs and owns Portland Placenta Services. She has an art background and started honing her skills at making the prints six years ago. These days, it's not uncommon for her to work with 10 clients a month as interest has grown for the unique art.
"Portland is definitely more amenable to it," she said. "People really love it. I think it's a really great way to honor the birth."
Nolan said sometimes the moms, dads or even the grandparents ask to help make the print.
"A lot of people are hesitant at first and then they see it and they're like, ‘Wow - that’s great! We’re going to frame it.' They’re just really proud of themselves for making a cool placenta tree."
Nolan said while some may think this is a novel idea, many cultures have been "honoring placenta in a variety of ways" for decades. She said it's often referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’ and can be used for medicinal purposes, too.
The most popular service Nolan offers is encapsulating placenta. New mothers then take the capsules to help stabilize their hormone and iron levels, stimulate milk production and shrink their uterus.
Nolan can also make a medicinal meal of lasagna or traditional Korean Miyeok Guk Soup with placenta but she said even though she's offered that service for the past four years, no one has taken her up on it.
"All other land mammals eat their placenta and people historically in a lot of other cultures have consumed their placenta in one way or another," she said.
The company's expanded menu of services also includes making a healing salve from placenta, lemon ginger placenta tea, umbilical cord preservation and placenta burial.
(The above photo is courtesy Portland Placenta Services.)