How to Make a Placenta Print

A placenta print is using your baby’s placenta to make a print on paper as a keepsake. A placenta print is not something that everyone wants or needs. It is a personal decision. It can be done no matter where you give birth.

You will want to do a placenta print within a few days of birth. If you are not using a completely fresh placenta, you will want to keep it refrigerated until you are ready to use it.

To get started you will need the following supplies:

  • Placenta
  • Paper(s)
  • Color
  • Water
  • Towels
  • Gloves

Use Acid-Free Materials

The coloring that you use for your placenta can be an ink that is acid-free. Many people do the first few prints with the blood that comes with the placenta. After that, you can use any color you want to use. Some people will try to color coordinate with a theme or room where they intend to hang the print.

The paper that you use will also need to be acid-free. This ensures the longevity of your prints. You will want to have larger paper sizes available if you intend to do the traditional tree of life positioning of your placenta. Smaller sizes can be used for other designs. You can also use very large sizes for multiple prints like from twin placentas or for multiple prints of the same placenta.


To begin, you will want to ensure that the placenta is not frozen, if it is, let it thaw to make it more moveable. Once it is mobile, put your gloves on and you will want to lay it out in the position you would like your print to be. If you are doing a blood print, you won’t need to add color at this step.

It is easier to bring the paper to the placenta, than the other way around. So lower the paper onto the placenta and press lightly to ensure a good print. Pull the paper straight up as not to contaminate the print by touching the paper again. You can make multiple prints until the blood no longer leaves a mark.

Once you need to add color or if this is where you want to start, you will need to clean the placenta off. You can simply run the placenta under water and dry it off. Once the placenta is dry you can then add color. An acid-free ink pad is fine for this purpose. You simply turn the ink pad upside down to cover the entire surface of the placenta that you choose with ink. You can also apply color with a brush but apply enough color to avoid brush marks, unless that's the look you’re going for with your print. If you are planning to do placental encapsulation, you will only want to use inks that are safe to ingest. This is usually color from a food source, like a blueberry stain.

Which side of the placenta you use is up to you. The fetal side is the side where the cord actually protrudes (usually) from the center of the placenta. This tends to give you a smoother print, with emphasis on the cord. This works well if you want to emphasize that this is a placenta.

If you choose to use the maternal side, your print will have more texture. You can choose to have the cord hidden or use it as well. Some artists will use the placenta this way as a piece of a painting, masking the fact that it’s a placenta. Some choose this side to showcase the maternal side of the placenta. Some just think it looks different.

How you pose your placenta for printing is totally up to you. You can do multiple prints or just a few. What you do with them later is also your choice. Some parents use them in the baby’s room, while others simply put them away as a treasured object for the baby’s book. Then there are parents who think this makes a great living room print in a fancy frame. The choice is yours.

As for what to do with the placenta when you’re done…if you’re not encapsulating you can choose to dispose of it via your midwife or doctor. Some families choose to use it to help fertilize a plant by burying it in the backyard.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Young SM, Gryder LK, Zava D, Kimball DW, Benyshek DC. Presence and concentration of 17 hormones in human placenta processed for encapsulation and consumption. Placenta. 2016;43:86-9. doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2016.05.005

  2. Burns E. More than clinical waste? Placenta rituals among Australian home-birthing women. J Perinat Educ. 2014;23(1):41-9. doi:10.1891/1058-1243.23.1.41

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.