Now let's be honest, when I first heard my sister talk about her eating her 'placenta pills' 4 years ago I was completely freaked out and wondered which birthing cult she had joined. Fast forward to present day, after becoming much more educated about natural birth practices, and I would have another baby just to have a placenta to encapsulate. My sister's placenta helped to save her life when she hemorrhaged after delivering her second child, as well as helped balance her emotionally after this traumatic event.
So, what is placenta encapsulation and why should you consider doing it?
I would like to introduce a guest author, Jenna Carter, owner of The Giving Tree, to help enlighten us all about the benefits of placenta encapsulation and how to find someone in your area who can do this for you.
For some women, the postpartum period seems more daunting than pregnancy and childbirth combined. Uneasiness of the unknown, anxiety over negative accounts, and/or the feeling of being overwhelmed all compound to create fear and mistrust in our own bodies and abilities. For others, postpartum is a very personal period of struggle interlaced with sleepless nights (and days!), breastfeeding hurdles, physical and mental exhaustion, and lack of time to devote to oneself, especially in regards to exercise and nutrition.
But what if women were armed with the proper knowledge, tools, and support to breeze through the emotional coaster of the postpartum period with greater ease?
This is where your placenta can come in handy. Yes, that mysterious organ which sustains life for your baby in the womb may actually provide key benefits to you in the postpartum period. After all, this nutrient-rich organ is chock full of hormones that were vital to you during pregnancy... wouldn’t it make sense that these same characteristics would benefit you after you give birth as well? If we envision going into postpartum with a different outlook (one of positivity and regeneration), we may be able to turn the tables on our own health and well-being.
In the U.S., most often our placentas are disposed of following childbirth, but in many cultures the placenta holds immense power and meaning. Placentophagy is the practice of ingesting the placenta and it is thought to be restorative to the mother’s health, as well as provide her with the necessary nutrients and hormone balances a recovering mother needs. Popularity has increasingly risen over the last few years to encapsulate the placenta and take it orally in pill form (it looks just like every other herbal pill you would buy at the store). Taken daily for several weeks, the benefits gained from ingesting your placenta range from beating the “baby blues,” to increased energy, increased lactation, and allowing a quicker return to overall health.
Research on placentophagy has shown to markedly reduce stress in mothers after childbirth, as well as regulate hormones and lower the potential for postpartum depressive symptoms. During pregnancy, the placenta secretes high levels of CRH (Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone) to three times the normal levels in the bloodstream. The idea behind the triggers of postpartum depression is that with such high levels of CRH being secreted by the placenta, the hypothalamus stops producing it, therefore resulting in an extreme void of hormones once the placenta is expelled. Additionally, the placenta is rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, protein, and B6, all which are beneficial to decreasing exhaustion and increasing healing. Following the method of Traditional Chinese Medicine, you can utilize your own placenta for medicinal purposes and bring nature back full circle.
Finding a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (CPES) can easily be done online by searching the Internet or Facebook for one in your area or checking the website http://placentabenefits.infowhich provides a wealth of information and an online specialist directory. The process of encapsulation is done right in your own home over the course of two sequential visits within 72 hours of placenta expulsion (the placenta can be frozen immediately if encapsulation needs to be started after this timeframe). If birthing in a hospital, you may need to check their requirements on releasing your placenta into your care (your specialist may help you retrieve your placenta if needed). Your specialist will sanitarily clean, cut, dehydrate, grind, and then encapsulate your placenta. After the process has been completed, you will be left with specific instructions on how many pills to take and for how long. A typical placenta can yield anywhere from 60-150 pills and can last you for several weeks postpartum.
If you had the opportunity to manage this crucial, important, and special time in your life as a mother, wouldn’t you want to make it the best it can be? After having my own placenta encapsulated and reaping the benefits, I felt passionate about sharing the research and providing the service for other women. Being personally familiar with the process and benefits allows me to confidently urge women to take their postpartum into their own hands. Placenta pills won’t help cook your meals or afford you more time in the day to sleep, but they can greatly improve your mood, health, and overall well-being while you take the time to care for your new baby.
Jenna Carter, certified PBi CPES