The placenta doesn't get a lot of respect, when you think about it.
Its nickname is the "afterbirth," and in many cases, it really is just an afterthought — something a woman births after the main act (the baby, that is). The placenta is then often tossed in the trash as hazardous waste and in in some hospitals, placentas are incinerated on site.
But an Australian artist is giving the essential organ its due with a new art installation two and a half years in the making. The #placentaproject celebrates childbirth, motherhood, and a woman's hidden work ...
... With a 330-pound placenta knitted from 900 T-shirts.
"I definitely have a fascination for things that women do that are hidden," community artist Bec Vandyk told ABC News.
"Of all the things we do that are hidden, this is probably an incredible one."
"It takes so much to supply in that first trimester *phew*, she added on Twitter.
The placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy to provide oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, and removes waste products from its blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. It has a huge role in a baby's health, Science News adds, but is often overlooked.
"It's a really important part of ... any mammal's pregnancy," Vandyk said.
For more than two years, a team of 20 women in regional Victoria worked on the giant placenta. They used material from recycled T-shirts, which they washed and dyed in a rainbow of placenta hues, cut into strips, and knitted together.
Today, it stands three meters wide and 0.7 metres tall, ABC News noted.
"The project celebrates women as mothers, creators, artists, and more. Though Mother's Day has passed, it's important to continue to appreciate the amazing women in our lives every day of the year!" an Instagram post about the project noted.
The placenta is on display at a studio in Warragul (a town near Melbourne) through May.
"We were all born with one," Vandyk said on Instagram.
But while we're appreciate the awesome power of the placenta, a gentle reminder not to, you know, eat one.
A new review of placentophagy — the consumption of human placenta — shows there is no significant benefit, and it may actually cause harm, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) said in a committee opinion article published in the May issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.
Proponents of placentophagy claim consuming it has physical and psychological benefits to new moms.
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