Ulrika, Brighton UK - My First Mum-to-be

December 2013

In 2013 Ulrika was very excited to announce she was pregnant with her second child which was to be a baby girl. Already being a mother to her first daughter Ulrika was aware of the following nine months and what was going to be involved.

Ulrika and I met through The University of Brighton whilst I was studying. Working as the Technical Demonstrator within the Ceramics Department, Ulrika has always been very supportive of my style of work, therefore, when I contacted her to ask the fundamental question of; would she like to be my first mum-to-be? She was delighted and for her own interesting reasons she agreed to help. 

My original work was a prototype using an animal placenta, so Ulrika is not only my first mum-to-be but her placenta is also to be the first human placenta I will have used.

Ulrika previously did an MA in Sustainable Design and felt the use of 'materials' like those in my project were issues close to her heart.

Ulrika: "To think of waste in a completely new way as raw materials hold huge potential.
This is something that is happening in a variety of industries. We even have an on-going project at the University of a house that is being built from a variety of post-consumer waste. Why not use human waste too where possible?
In this age where we have a growing population and natural resources are getting scarcer, we absolutely have to start thinking of new ways to use the resources around us. I recently read that Sweden is looking to import several hundred thousand tonnes of waste to burn for energy. They now have so many incinerators that make
waste into energy that they have run out of rubbish!"

To see Ulrika’s own work visit: http://www.ulrikajarl.com/

Since agreeing to participate Ulrika has been incredible. Even when 7-8 months pregnant, she not only had her baby bump in articles around the world but she also got involved in radio and television interviews.

Ulrika: "I can totally understand that people find the idea of a picture frame made
from your own placenta unpleasant

Having said that, I know it is becoming increasingly popular to have your placenta dried
and encapsulated and taking it as a nutritional supplement, however, as
I understand the science to support the health benefits is very thin.
Scientists are not sure why other mammals eat their placenta in the wild, whether it is to hide any traces from potential predators, or to regain energy after giving birth.

Whatever benefits there may or may not be I have friends who swear by their placenta capsules and say it has given them much more energy, more milk and even combatted the postpartum blues.
I also understand that you can donate your placenta to be used for training dogs to look for human remains. So many uses for these useful bits of tissue that has kept your baby alive for 9 months
and then the majority of them are just thrown away!
That really is a waste! "

Ulrika asked, once she had given birth, for me to collect the placenta immediately, therefore, I needed to transport Ulrika’s placenta from Brighton to London. I had to do some strategic planning in preparation for collection, ensuring to be hygienic and ethical at all times.

Ulrika’s due date was around the 21st of December 2013, which meant I was on call for Christmas. I knew I had to be prepared so I gathered everything I needed, as soon as possible; because much like any pregnancy, Ulrika was uncertain when she may pop!

Christmas came and went but on the morning of the 30th December 2013, Ulrika contacted me to let me know she had gone into labour. I was so excited, I grabbed my cool box and I was ready to go and collect my first placenta.

When arriving at the hospital it dawned on me how lucky I was to be involved in such a personal experience. I would like to say a huge thank you to Ulrika and her family for that privilege. Ulrika's placenta was handed over to me by the midwife, in an official medical placenta bag and was stored safe in a frozen state, ready for the next stage.

Ulrika's placenta: Ulrika's placenta was mostly rosy red in colour with white trickling through (minus a few separate areas). The best way I like to describe it, believe it or not, is strawberries and cream, seriously. Ulrika's placenta was super glossy and rich in colour whilst being 22cm long. Which can only mean one thing in my mind; a healthy placenta! Internet research proves my theory, "A better nourished mother produces a bigger, more radiant and productive placenta (but still within normal range)."