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According to the New Zealand-based website Mothers Matter, "Maori believe that mothers and babies should be comfortable and relaxed throughout the pregnancy and birth. They feel that a baby is fully aware of what is going on in his or her environment and having a mum as calm and relaxed as possible for the entire pregnancy is of great benefit to the baby."
Part of their ancient birth rite involves special treatment of the placenta, as described in a Facebook post by Emma Jean Photography, along with an image that is stunning the Internet:
"Welcome earthside sweet little Harper. As a Maori baby his placenta will now be returned to the land.The word 'whenua' relates to the placenta and to the land. 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 (mother earth), which remains life long."
As you can see in this incredible photo, baby Harper is still attached to his umbilical cord, which is coiled to spell the word "love." It's amazing to see exactly how the umbilical cord is attached to the placenta. After three births, I never saw this connection between my own children, and their source of sustenance over the past nine months.
What's most awe-inspiring for me is how huge the placenta is! Obviously I'm not the only person who is wowed by this photograph. Since being posted to Facebook it has received thousands of shares and likes.
our site reached out to Emma Jean to learn more about this stunning image, and this is what she said: "I think it is wonderful that this image is getting such a huge response and it is starting lots of great conversations about cultural awareness and normal birth. I think people are fascinated by it as they are not used to seeing a baby still attached to it's placenta as normally they are cut soon after birth and the placenta once birthed is quickly discarded without the parents seeing it."
"I've been wanting to take this picture for awhile to highlight the importance of optimal cord clamping or delayed cord clamping which is where the baby receives its full blood volume after birth. Immediate cord clamping is not evidence based practice. By allowing the baby to receive its full blood volume the baby has 30 percent more blood volume, increased oxygen levels, more stem cells to build the immune system promoting better long term health as well as increased iron stores which increases infants neurological development. Research has shown by age four babies who received their full blood volume have better fine motor functions and social skills. As you can see I am very passionate about spreading evidence based research surrounding birth practices as I am also a midwife."
To learn more about Emma Jean Photography, visit her Facebook page.
Our our site community is already talking about this image. Their reactions range from "gross!" to "beautiful."
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.