How To Make A Placenta Print

Oh placenta prints! I love these things.

What is a placenta print you ask?

Well, after the placenta comes out, you lay it on a flat surface, pat it dry, and paint it. Then you gently press a flat sheet of white paper over the paint…and voila! You have yourself a bonafide print of your placenta that looks like a tree.

Some people paint them in nursery colors and put them on the wall of the baby’s room…after all, it is the organ that helped grow the baby. And, you grew this entire organ all by yourself! For the holiday season, we got a little fancy and made a turkey for a thanksgiving baby and a Christmas tree for a December baby. The mamas loved it.

Follow these 5 tips to make an awesome placenta print.

1. Use good paints. Look for acrylic paints in fun colors (or the colors of your nursery).

2. Use good paper. Flimsy computer paper doesn’t work. Thick, watercolor paper bigger than a 8.5 x 11 inch paper is generally best. Some placentas are really big and take up the entire sheet of paper, or, they actually go off the edge of the paper. The more space you have to work with, the more you can play with the cord! I generally pick up a brand like this at Walmart or Target (no affiliates here).

3. Have a good surface. I usually use the delivery table since the placenta is already there and it’s convenient. But any surface will do. You need enough space to lay the placenta and the cord out without running into your paper or paints. You’ll want to wipe off the placenta to see the “branches” or the fetal vessels before painting. You may have to move the placenta or cord around until you have your *best* tree.

4. Next, start painting! Use 3-4 colors. I love to do a base color, then a color along the spiral arteries, and lastly, a little splotching around the outside of the circle. I find this makes the colors blend and “pop” at the same time. Your painting does not have to be artsy – just make sure you do more dabbing with your paint and less of painting like you would with a paint brush.

5. Lastly, experiment! Some placentas are small and skinny and make more of a little shrub than a tree. Some placentas are huge and take up the entire page. Some have really long cords and you can do things like make a heart. Or make things like turkeys or Christmas trees! One of the coolest things with painting placentas is that if you don’t like your paint scheme or placenta print, you can wipe the paint right off and start over.

This video demonstrates the general idea. Anyone can do a print – I’ve seen dads, techs, sisters, doulas, even the mamas that just gave birth do a print!

Every time I’ve made one of these for a family, they are absolutely delighted. I’ve made a print with each of my births and it’s fun to look back and think of the organ that my body made that helped to sustain my babies until they were earth side.


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