This is surely my most controversial post to date, and definitely not for the squeamish. If the title alone gives you the heebie jeebies then stop reading now, but I hope that you do continue to read with an open-mind!
This post is about my choice to consume my placenta via placenta encapsulation after giving birth to my son in April. This practice is not necessarily new and has been done throughout history by different cultures, however recently it has become more “mainstream”, or at least talked about and getting some buzz.
I do want to be clear that most of the benefit claims on why one would choose to do this have not been proven or fully researched and are just from different women’s experiences although they are slowly starting to be studied now. On the flip side, while many women rave of the benefits, you can also find posts and articles from those who regret doing it and have experienced negative side effects. A review by Northwestern University said there were no proven benefits, but this conclusion was only based on 10 studies. I encourage you as I always do to research this topic further if it remotely interests you for future pregnancies or if you are simply curious.
There are different ways you can consume your placenta after delivery, however I chose placenta encapsulation which involves steaming the placenta, drying it, grinding it and putting it in pill form. This was done by a doula service that was recommended by my birth center and cost $150. If you do plan to use and keep your placenta, this is something that you must clear ahead of time with your doctor. I had a c-section and I told my doctor ahead of time so that they didn’t dispose of the placenta after delivery which is what typically occurs. It also is monitored very closely and time sensitive. I had to sign off that I wanted to keep it and the hospital only agrees to keep it for a short period of time before someone is required to pick it up. That designated person had to sign off as well. This is all to ensure proper handling and lower any related risks involved.
Some of the most common benefits of consuming the placenta reported include:
- Helps prevent postpartum depression and “baby blues”
- Improves breast milk supply
- Boosts postpartum energy levels
- Shrinks the uterus
- May prevent postpartum hemorrhage and decrease postpartum bleeding
- May prevent iron deficiency anemia
- Encourages faster physical recovery
- Reduces stress
- Balances mood and hormones
- Speeds up metabolism
While most of these have not been proven true specifically by consumption of the placenta alone, there is some science behind the placenta and what it contains. The placenta contains oxytocin, a hormone that can reduce pain and can also increase bonding with baby. It also contains thyroid stimulating hormones, interferon and prolactin, which can boost the immune system, energy, recovery and milk supply. The placenta is rich in hormones, protein, vitamins, and hemoglobin (which is an iron-rich protein) all of which need to be replenished and balanced after birth however some would argue you could just do this through diet alone.
So, what did it do for me? Honestly, it’s hard to say…there are just so many other outside factors to consider. Especially since it was my first pregnancy and I have nothing to personally compare it to. Below are my comments on a few of the reported benefits and my own experiences:
- Helps prevent postpartum depression- I did have a mild case of “baby blues” right around the time I began taking the capsules which was when we arrived home from the hospital. This went away after a few days and while taking the capsules I feel like I had a rollercoaster of emotions, but no strong feelings of depression at that time while consuming. I have struggled with it on and off since due probably in most part from stress and lack of sleep.
- Improves breast milk supply- My milk came in very quickly, but this was also before I even started taking the capsules. If you follow my Instagram you might have seen my post about my overproduction/oversupply so it is very possible that the pills affected my milk supply in a big way as this is not very common. Oversupply was frustrating, exhausting and heartbreaking when it affected my son negatively, but if I had to choose between oversupply and undersupply I would choose oversupply again in a heartbeat. Now that breastfeeding and my oversupply have balanced out, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on it a bit, I hope to write a separate post about it soon.
- Boosts postpartum energy levels- The first few weeks after Lane was born, I seriously had so much energy! I remember telling people, “I’m not getting any sleep, but I’m not tired… it’s just such a weird feeling, like I have super powers.” I just felt like it was nature’s way of giving me that boost that I needed to get through the lack of sleep and give baby what he needs. Eventually that energy began to run out, and I started to feel the side effects of no sleep which I am still feeling today! Ah, mom life!
- May prevent postpartum hemorrhage and decrease postpartum bleeding- I had a c-section, but if you don’t know, you still experience postpartum bleeding. I felt like my bleeding was very mild so the capsules very well could have affected it.
- May prevent iron deficiency anemia- This was actually one of the big reasons why I became especially intrigued about consuming my placenta. I’ve always struggled with anemia off and on throughout my adult life so anything I could do to help that situation post-birth was on my radar.
- Faster physical recovery- Whether you are recovering from a vaginal birth or from a c-section, I’m sure it’s a trade-off, both are intense in their own ways, and recovery is no joke. That being said, while the days following were brutal, I did feel that after about a week, I was on the up and up. Pain was gone for the most part, I was climbing stairs and going about my tasks without any issues and this all really surprised me in comparison to the scary c-section recovery “what to expect” posts I googled and read about in my last few weeks of pregnancy. (Don’t do this! Haha)
But let’s be honest. My results or lack thereof are probably not going to sway you either way and they shouldn’t because everyone is different and will have a different experience. This is just something that after I researched, I felt drawn to, like I was meant to do it and I just wanted to do it. I can’t really explain it! When I first read about it, it just made perfect sense in my mind…I felt and thought, “why would I want to dispose of something that contains so many beneficial vitamins and other good things? Good things that benefited my baby for so long and could possibly continue to benefit both of us in other ways by consuming it after birth. And even though I can’t pinpoint the exact effectiveness after the fact, I am glad I did it and will probably do it again 😉
So there’s my story! If you are still reading, thanks for sticking around!
Lots of love and good health,
Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie