Facebook photo of newborn with placenta castings light on birth rites

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The photo of a newborn baby and his placenta went viral when posted on Facebook, with comments about birth rituals and a few cases out-there suggestions

A viral photograph of a newborn baby next to his placenta, the umbilical cord spelling out love, has inspired deliberation about birth rituals and a couple of snarky tweets.

Brisbane photographer Emma Jean Nolan posted the black-and-white photograph of Harper Hoani Spies next to his placenta on her professional Facebook page on Sunday, only 90 minutes after he was born. Since then the post has received more than 3,000 likes and 750 shares.

Harpers mother Jolene Spies, descended from the Ngai Tahu iwi or tribe of the southern region of New Zealand , commissioned Nolan as birth certificates photographer.

In the post, Nolan quotes the website Mother Matter to explain the sacred is connected with the organ and the land in Maori culture, expressed in Te Reo, the Maori language, with the same word.

As a Maori baby,[ Harpers] placenta will now be returned to the land, she writes. Whenua( placenta) is returned to the whenua( land) with the pito( umbilical cord) the link between the newborn and papatuanuku( mother earth ). With this affinity established, each individual fulfils the role of curator for papatuanuku, which remains lifelong.

The post has generated dialogue about birth rituals.

Facebook user Jackie Kainuku said the practice of interring the placenta was very common in New Zealand.

She maintained her three sons placentas in a freezer for six years, waiting for the right place to bury them. Before she moved to Australia in 2011, she buried them with her partners late sister. It was a very meaningful and beautiful route to give back to the Globe for our sons, she said.

Another commenter Crystal Gell said she set her daughters placenta in a pot in soil and planted a lime tree in it: We are waiting to build our home so we can transfer it to the ground, she said.

Nolan, who is also a trained midwife, told Guardian Australia the practice of returning the placenta to the earth is not common in western cultures.

Even many people who live in Australia but who are from cultures that follow this practice often dont do it, she said. However it is clear from the response to this post that there are a lot of people still doing it many will go to the lengths of travelling home from overseas to bury it on their home land.

The comments on Nolans photo on Facebook are overwhelmingly positive, but elsewhere the internet has made other suggestions some definitely tongue-in-cheek for purposes that placenta could be applied to.

The Cut writer Jessica Roy proposed other phrases that could be spelled with navel string, including FIRST !!! 1 and LETS GO METS.

bobby thumb (@ bobbyfinger) January 7, 2016

@jessicakroy pic.twitter.com/ cZBBQ1pWpx

bobby thumb (@ bobbyfinger) January 7, 2016

@lindseyweber @jessicakroy pic.twitter.com/ wKOV4cKZqM

A five-year-old online tutorial for placenta art which includes such helpful suggestions as be well prepared, you dont need to use paint to construct the prints. There is enough blood in the placenta, and use heavy watercolour paper so the paper wont curl when it gets wet also resurfaced with Nolans photo.

Eating your placenta, once view as exclusively the eccentricity of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and January Jones, is apparently now more widespread, with cooked or encapsulated in an easy-to-swallow pill among the options.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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