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Consume My Placenta?
When I was pregnant, the first time our doula brought up the idea of consuming my placenta after I gave birth seemed rather “out there” to me and particularly to my husband. She told us about her personal experience with postpartum depression after the birth of her first child and how she was determined to do something different with her second, so she had her placenta encapsulated. She spoke about how different her postpartum experiences were, and how even months after giving birth if she was having a down day, taking her placenta pills seemed to help her mood. This got us seriously thinking about whether or not I would want to consume my own placenta.
Being that this was my first pregnancy, I did not have any experience with the “baby blues” or postpartum depression, but I knew that I wanted to do everything I could do avoid that in the first place. Seeing that there was really no downside to consuming my placenta (besides that the rest of my family thought I was crazy), we decided to go ahead and encapsulate it after birth. I am so grateful that I did.
Whenever I am having a rough emotional day, my husband always asks me, “did you take your placenta pills today?” The answer is most always no. We have firsthand experience of the health benefits the placenta can offer.
Reasons for Consuming Your Placenta
Are you wondering why someone would really want to consume their placenta? Is is hard to believe that God has provided for our own hormonal needs through the process of preparing a baby in your womb? Many speak of the way the placenta resembles a “tree of life.” God designed this miraculous organ not only to nourish a baby in the womb but also for the health and healing of a mother’s body.
Placentophagy, or the consumption of the placenta, has been practiced for thousands of years, but most contemporary cultures do not promote it. Though nearly every mammal consumes their placenta after birth, the practice has received wide skepticism from many medical experts, though many women who've consumed their placenta strongly believe in this practice.
After birth, the majority of moms experience blood loss, fatigue and a flood of new hormones. Many also experience postpartum blues or depression. The placenta replenishes the system with iron and protein and helps reintroduce hormones back into your system.
In ancient Chinese medicine, placental extracts are commonly mixed with herbs to relieve pain and stimulate milk production. The placenta is known to contain high levels of iron, vitamin B-12 and certain hormones.
Consumption of the placenta after birth can help:
- Balance your hormones
- Enhance your milk supply
- Increase your energy
- Speed up healing from a vaginal birth or c-section
- Replenish depleted iron
- Lessen postnatal bleeding
- Hasten return of the uterus to pre-pregnancy state
Recently, researchers from the University of Nevada conducted a three-month survey with 189 women who had consumed their placenta after birth. The results were published in the journal Ecology of Food and Nutrition where 95 percent of participants reported positive or very positive experiences.
“Things like improved lactation, postpartum bleeding was alleviated, and postpartum recovery was either sped up or improved in general,” said Sharon Young, a researcher and a UNLV graduate student.
It is still up for debate in the medical community about the role of placenta consumption in curing these conditions, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from mothers who have participated in the practice.
Many women choose to consume their placenta through encapsulation; this is a process of cooking, dehydrating and blending the placenta before putting it in capsules. Just like you would consume a vitamin, you swallow these pills with your choice of liquid.
Other options for consumption include eating the placenta raw or cooked. There are literally hundreds on recipes online to incorporate your placenta into.
It is best to check with your midwife or health care professional to be sure your placenta is healthy. You should stop taking the capsules if you develop an infection such as mastits, flu or the common cold and continue with the illness clears.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and this information is based off my own experience and personal research.
Did you use your placenta to aid in your postpartum health?