"Developed" countries hardly know what to do with a placenta. Is it trash? A biohazard? Or, is it simply a by-product of the "real" product, the baby? During my era of birthing, families might bury the placenta and then plant a tree above it. Today's moms, however, might consider dehydrating, encapsulating, and then ingesting the nourishment of this "after birth."
In an accompanying photo, Robin Lim (photo) discusses "Lotus Birth" with midwives from Sumatra. This is the tradition practiced in Bali (and around the world) of leaving the umbilical cord uncut and the placenta attached to the baby after the birth. Some mothers wait for the umbilical cord to dry and separate on its own in 3-7 days.
Other families choose, after several days, to have a ceremonial burning of the umbilical cord, a ritual which marks the baby's separation from the placenta (photo). Medical literature does not show that infection occurs with this practice; however, some in the western medical world suggest that it offers no known benefit to mother or baby and carries the "potential" for infection. (1) But, Robin Lim (CLICK HERE for YouTube interview) and other professionals (2,3,4) speak passionately about the benefits of not separating the baby prematurely from the "siblings" who have nourished him in the womb.
http://www.rcog.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-opinions/statement/rcog-statement-umbilical-non-severance-or-%E2%80%9Clotus-birth. Download 9/15/2013.
(2) 2006. Crowther, S. Lotus Birth: Leaving the cord alone. Pract Midwife. June 9:6.
(3) 2003. Buckley, S. Lotus Birth: a ritual for our times. Midwifery Today Intern'l Midwife. Fall 67:36-8.
(4) 2005. Murphy, M. Lotus after cesarean. Midwifery Today Int Midwife. Winter 76:6.