Thursday, 13 November 2014

You Ate Your Placenta.....?

Well... yes. Let me explain?

I know, I know. Part of the reason I haven't written about this yet is because it completely grosses out a lot of people. However, I've found that most people I've talked to about it are curious about the reason and benefits, so I decided to come clean.

No, I did not "eat" it, but yes I did consume it.

For those who don't know, or perhaps haven't read many of my posts, I should first admit I'm a bit of a hippy. A little "granola" or "crunchy" as it's often referred to. I chose to have a Midwife rather than be under the care of an obstetrician during my pregnancy and birth, and it was in making that choice that I found myself on the road to deciding to consume my placenta.

What I love about midwifery is that the mother is really put in the driver's seat of her own pregnancy and birth. Rather than going to appointments and being told what tests need to be done, my midwife approached each juncture by empowering me to make my own decisions. This suited me so well because I have always been and will always be an education junkie. I love to learn new things, and can find myself completely lost in research when a subject interests me. Pregnancy and birth fascinated me (Still does). So between researching pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum care I stumbled upon placenta encapsulation. I had heard of it before, but truthfully had dismissed it as "too out there" for me. I remembered all the jokes about Madonna eating her placenta years ago, and the (hopefully made up) story of someone baking it into a lasagna and serving it to guests, and like most others I was completely grossed out by it.

The more natural birth stories I read and midwifery online forums and groups I joined, the more I heard about it. I realized it was no longer gross or taboo, but in fact a common practice- and not just with the crunchy mamas like myself! Women all over are choosing to have their placenta encapsulated, and I wanted to know why.

First of all, what is encapsulation?
The placenta is dried (usually in a dehydrator) and ground up into a powder which is then placed in capsules. There are quite a few people out there that provide this service (for a fee) They pick up the placenta at the hospital/birthing centre/home and then bring the capsules back to you within a day or two. I had my capsules delivered to my door step within 36 hours of giving birth. There is very little "ick" factor (for me)- my midwife put the placenta in a large ziploc bag for us, and I didn't see it again until it came to me looking like any other vitamin I might take. Chris on the other hand refused to touch the pills. If I asked him to get them for me he would open the bottle, shake a couple into the cap and then spill the cap into my hand. You would think he'd have a stronger stomach after the whole child birth experience...

Ah yes, the first question (rightly so) that everyone asks. What is the point?
There are many benefits that you may or may not experience. Placenta encapsulation is by no means an exact science, and each woman's body chemistry will react in different ways. The benefits may include:

  • Enhanced milk supply
  • Increased energy
  • Balancing your hormones
  • Decreased post partum bleeding (amount and length of time)
  • Quicker recovery from birth
  • Encourages contraction of uterus
  • Increased levels of iron*
  • Decreased "Baby Blues"

*During childbirth a mother will lose 1/8 of her body's iron supply through the delivery of the placenta. High levels of iron are needed in the blood to facilitate oxygen absorption which feeds your cells  and influences efficient healing)

When I was pregnant I was especially nervous about breast feeding. I know so many women have trouble, and it worried me because I felt very strongly about wanting to breast feed. This was the main reason why I wanted to encapsulate, but the increased energy, levelled out hormones and quick recovery were all close behind.

My experience was good. I'm not sure I would rave about it or run around telling all the ladies to put their dried up placenta in pills. I did experience a very ample milk supply right off the bat, but then I also came down with mastitis at 7 days post partum, so I'm not sure I felt it was a blessing at the time. That is something to note - As soon as you have an infection you need to stop taking the placenta pills because it can drive the infection deeper into your body. Don't ask me how. I complied for fear that I would get even sicker than I was (which was pretty darn sick!) I started taking the pills again about a week after only to stop taking them at about 3 weeks PP because I was fighting off another case of mastitis (Seriously??) I felt pretty cautious about the pills after that because I felt quite engorged with milk while I was on them and wondered if that played a part in being more susceptible to mastitis. I believe I stopped taking them completely by about week 5 or 6.

I did heal very quickly, felt as though my mood was quite stable and I had a lot of energy. Is this because of the pills? It's hard to say- I remember my Midwife actually making a comment about how she wasn't at all surprised that I was feeling so good physically and emotionally because of my personality.

In conclusion, because I have nothing else to compare it to, I really have no clue how helpful the pills were. I have one friend who only encapsulated with her third child and has said her post partum experience was completely different with her third- including an ample milk supply when she  struggled greatly with baby #1 and 2. I have also read testimonial after testimonial of positive experiences.

Will I encapsulate again? Truthfully, probably not with the next one. I still have 2/3 of my pills sitting in my freezer (where they can stay indefinitely by the way! Some women hang on to them until menopause!) So if I struggle with our next child I can use them. I'm actually quite interested to see if there will be a difference for me between taking the pills in the first few weeks and not. If I remember I'll write a blog about that one day!

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Thanks for stopping by :)


Thanks for stopping by :)


1 comment:

  1. I did it after Oscar was born and truly felt it made a world of difference! I had a cold right when he was born and then got mastitis so, as you said, I avoided the pills until I was better. It was probably by week3 I was taking them regularly and my energy was unreal, considering I had a newborn and spent my days chasing the older kids.
    I did it again after Archie but just couldn't quite get into it this time, for some reason. The smell of the pills was a lot stronger and made me gag. Not sure of the difference though.
    I still think it's a great thing to try, especially if you have a history of low milk supply or ppd.