What I’m about to tell you, I had planned to tell no one. Only a few people know this about us. I didn’t want to tell people because I didn’t want to be judged. Because trust me the eww factor was very much a thing for me. But I decided I’m tired of being ashamed about it. I believe it truly helped me and I would like it to be helpful to other moms.
In junior high/high school I struggled with depression. I was treated for it with meds for a time and saw a therapist. When I was pregnant my husband and I were concerned about postpartum depression. I tried my best to eat healthy. I tried to workout while I was pregnant but was not very successful. One night at our birthing classes, the instructor mentioned eating your placenta. Of course everyone (including me) in the class turned up their faces, eww! She said there is a way were you can encapsulation your placenta and take it as a supplement. It has shown to help balance out your hormones. We went home that night and talked about it further. We prayed about it and we felt like we wanted to try it. I called up my doula and she gave me a number of a lady who does it from her home. We called her up, asked her a few questions, then she told us to just send our placenta with our doula and she’ll take care of the rest. We wrote in our birth plan that we were going to take the placenta home. So when Sweet Baby made his appearance we sent our placenta home with the doula. Pause real quick and lets talk about the placenta. Isn’t it crazy looking?! So bright and full of life (or used to be)? The placenta is an organ that begins to form at conception in a woman’s uterus and connects to the baby via the umbilical cord. The placenta serves to deliver nutrition, exchange blood supply and share immunity between a mother’s body and the baby. Our Creator is amazing! The make up of the placenta is extremely complex. The main components include protein, amino acids, enzymes and hormones like: HCG, prolactin, oxytocin, thyroid-stimulting hormone, and sex hormones. In some cultures, it is tradition to bury the placenta in the earth and plant a tree in its place. We have friends who have put their placenta in their freezer for just in case purposes, then after a point they throw it away. And then there’s the option of eating it. Most mammals in nature consume their own placenta for replenishment of nutrients after birth. The nutritional demands during the postpartum periods are high, even for a well-nourished mother. Postpartum depression, fatigue and low milk supply can come on fast and strong!
I don’t know have anything to compare it to, since Sweet Baby was my first baby, but I really felt like it helped me. I got them close to two weeks postpartum. The instructions were to take two of them 3 times a day for two weeks. Then for the rest to take as needed. I truly felt it helped me immediately. My milk flow was amazing and Sweet Baby grew like crazy. Whenever I felt like I might be catching something I would take a pill and I never got sick. If I felt like my hormones were off one day I took one and I’d feel better. And something a little TMI, it helped regulate my bowel movements. I wasn’t having any until I took that pill. Seriously! Two hours after taking it, I finally was able to . . . you get the point. 🙂 A couple of months after Sweet Baby our birthing class had a reunion to show off our babies and to share our ‘war stories.’ After we all shared our stories somehow it came up about the placenta encapsulation. All the mom’s had done it. And they too felt like it was beneficial to them as well.
So as I sat down to come clean to all you about it I found some of the benefits of consuming your placenta: reduced postpartum bleeding, faster more efficient healing, more energy to care for new baby, prevention and treatment of postpartum depression and other emotional imbalances, healthy and strong skin, hair and nails and increases milk supply, contains the mother’s own natural hormones, it’s perfectly made for that mother, replenished depleted iron and I’ve also heard it can be helpful during menopause.
Are you interested but still kinda grossed out? Let me try to help that. Actually the placenta is a pretty beautiful thing. Symbolically it represents the bond between mother and child. And a healthy placenta is stunning too, I remember it being so deep red and purple. Ok I get it. You’re like ok, it maybe pretty and all but eating it? Anyone who knows me knows I’m a picky eater. And if something looks funny or weird to me-I will stick my nose up and say no thanks. So I’m not suggesting to eat it raw, but think about getting it encapsulated. Even if you do it and never use it, you still have the option.
Probably the most common and user-friendly way to consume placenta is through encapsulation. Because trust me, even though I believe in it’s benefits, I wouldn’t not throw it in with my eggs or smoothie. In the Traditional Chinese Medicine method the organ is sliced, steamed with herbs, dehydrated, ground into powder and packed into capsules. Many midwives, doulas, and other birth practitioners offer placenta encapsulation as a service. Although it is not free, I highly recommend seeking out someone to do this for you. I’d be happy to share the lady we used. She saved us a piece of Sweet Baby’s umbilical cord, shaped it in a heart, dried it and put it in a bag. We still have it. Never really knew what to do with it, it’s sitting in one of my night stand drawers.
The other ways placenta can be consumed are: raw, cooked, made into a tincture dehydrated and put into smoothies (this is how my doula did it with one of her pregnancies). Whatever you decide, be sure to let your birth team know in advance if you want to keep your placenta. Most hospitals will allow for this if you sign a waiver.
So there it is. My not so dirty little secret. I’ve decided not to be ashamed about it. If January Jones can come out that she consumed her encapsulated placenta, and the whole world didn’t come crumbling down, I surely can too. So yes, I did, I consumed my placenta!
~Our Sweet Life!~
Chen, John K. and Tina T. Chen. Chinese Medical Herbology & Pharmacology. Art of Medicine Press, City of Industry, CA: 2004.
Mothering Magazine, September 1983, Vol. 28, pg 76
Why Eat Placenta? BBC News.com