I already know what you’re thinking.
“That’s disgusting! Why would I do that?!”
But bear with me here. Try to open up your mind for this. Ready? Okay!
Placenta encapsulation is the process of steaming and dehydrating your placenta post birth, and having it put into capsules to take immediately postpartum to speed up recovery, later on whenever you feel overwhelmed, and even during menopause as a natural hormonal replacement therapy.
I did not have my placenta encapsulated with my first two children. The idea seemed too foreign. And plus, I had hospital births and wasn’t sure of how the whole keeping-it-on-ice-in-a-cooler thing worked for transporting it. Or even if the hospital would let me take it with me. (The answer? Most likely yes. Many hospitals today will release a placenta to a new mom for later consumption)
So when I had decided on having a home birth accompanied by a midwife and doula with my third baby, I began extensive research on placentophagy.
My main reasoning? To avoid postpartum depression.
With each of my children immediately post-birth, my already existing depression morphed into a severe case of postpartum depression/postpartum psychosis. Its just how I react to such a major hormonal shift, unfortunately. So when I read that consuming your placenta post-birth could have the ability to keep PPD far, far away, I knew I just had to try it.
Immediately after I had delivered Kohana and my placenta, my doula (also the woman who would later encapsulate my placenta) placed it on a pad on my dining room table for my midwife to examine before anything else was decided. I was given a piece of my raw placenta to hold in my cheek after birth so the hormones could help slow my bleeding. (No, it didn’t taste bad!) Kohana had a very large placenta, so my doula suggested I also have a tincture made. (A tincture is where a piece of my placenta is placed into a jar of alcohol to extract the hormones. After a period of six weeks or so, it can be used in juice or water to help Mom in times of stress, or to help a teething baby. With proper storage it can be kept forever)
Once everything was said and done, my doula informed me that she would be back in 24 hours to return to me my placenta capsules and tincture, while I got to enjoy my sweet new babe. It was as easy as that!
Now, lets get into some of the benefits of consuming your placenta.
The placenta is composed of beneficial hormones, chemicals, iron, and proteins. These healing substances include:
- Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone: Contributes to mammary gland development in preparation for lactation; stabilizes postpartum mood; regulates post-birth uterine cramping; decreases depression; normalizes and stimulates libido.
- Prolactin: Promotes lactation; increases milk supply; enhances the mothering instinct.
- Oxytocin: Decreases pain and increases bonding in mother and infant; counteracts the production of stress hormones such as Cortisol; greatly reduces postpartum bleeding; enhances the breastfeeding let-down reflex.
- Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF): Stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids, including endorphins; reduces pain; increases well-being.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: Regulates the thyroid gland; boosts energy and supports recovery from stressful events.
- Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH): Low levels of CRH are implicated in postpartum depression. Regulation of CRH helps prevent depression.
- Cortisone: Reduces inflammation and swelling; promotes healing.
- Interferon: Triggers the protective defenses of the immune system to fight infection.
- Prostaglandins: Regulates contractions in the uterus after birth; helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. Anti-inflammatory effects.
- Iron: Replenishes maternal iron stores to combat anemia, a common postpartum condition. Increases energy; decreases fatigue and depression.
- Hemoglobin: Oxygen-carrying molecule which provides a boost in energy.
- Urokinase Inhibiting Factor and Factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG): Antibody molecules which support the immune system.
- Human Placental Lactogen (hPL): This hormone has lactogenic and growth-promoting properties; promotes mammary gland growth in preparation for lactation in the mother. It also regulates maternal glucose, protein, and fat levels.
With all of those benefits, how could you not have at least the slightest urge to try to have your own placenta encapsulated?!
I recently encountered a large, unbearable bout of anxiety. I was having panic attacks to where I honestly felt like I was having a heart attack, and I could hardly function. The first thing I did was rummage through my refrigerator to find my capsules. One hour later, I felt a wave of absolute calm wash over me. I felt energized and happy, while an hour earlier I was on the verge of going to the ER.
They have helped me in times of major stress. Its like clockwork. An hour after taking just one capsule, I feel energized and completely leveled out hormonally. Its to the point to where I am now referring to them as my “happy pills” and wish that I had a never-ending supply!
While I will be honest in saying they did not keep my postpartum depression away completely, they have helped tremendously in keeping my stress levels down and at a manageable level. And with three kids, thats so important.
So my advice to all women who are either expecting or trying to conceive?
Look into placenta encapsulation.
While it may seem foreign (or even gross) to you, I encourage you to look into all of its benefits even further. And also keep in mind:
The consumption of the human placenta has been practiced for thousands of years, and in many other countries, is still a routine practice to both heal the new mother, and give thanks.
The placenta is a magical piece of the pregnancy. It has cherished and grown a new life, and can also help to heal yours once its brought earthside!
“Research Studies Supporting Placenta Encapsulation.” PlacentaWise RSS.