Placenta, Consumed.

A few of you have asked, emailed and inquired about placenta encapsulation. Was I glad I did it?

Absolutely.

There is no way we will ever know its true effect on my body, but everything I observed is in line with what it is supposed to do. Refer to this post if you want more information on all of that!

30 Weeks: Yes I Want To Eat My Placenta

So here are my reflections:

We hired Nicole Link-Troen out of Richmond as our placenta guru. She was fabulous!! She charges $250 for her services in general and an extra $50 to drive up to Cville. Given all she did for us, I felt like it was well worth the cost.

After delivery, my doula brought our placenta home to the fridge. We did have a few hiccups taking it from the hospital, but overall, we got the green light from the doctor. [Apparently they always have to tell you it’s not allowed…and times may be changing. I think we are really lucky to have gotten it, and there was a moment when I thought we might not.]

So back to Nicole, she was very communicative throughout the whole process, and I called her as soon as I went into labor so she would know when to make the trip up. Since Mazen was born early on Friday morning, she came late Friday afternoon to get started. My parents were here by then and were able to let her into the house to start the process. I obviously wasn’t there to watch, but my mom took some photos for me and it was really cool to see from afar!! [I have photos of my real placenta but I decided not to share them.] Nicole left the placenta in her dehydrator overnight and then came back some crazy time in the middle of the night – like 3:30am – to finish up. She drove back and forth to Richmond, so I can’t thank her enough for the effort!

Everything with beautifully presented, including an imprint of the placenta shape (art!) and a bar of soap, plus lots of directions on taking the capsules.

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On Saturday morning my parents brought me my first pills to take in the hospital, just 30ish hours after birth.

And by Saturday night, my milk had come in. One of my nurses remarked how fast that was for a first time mom. I’m sure Mazen’s strong suck also had something to do with it.

Nicole also left “placenta tea” in fridge for when I got home, which was essentially the broth she cooked it in (I think?) seasoned with spices and flavors to make it palatable. I was brave and gave it a taste – it was like the strongest black and herbal tea I’ve ever had mixed together. There was no trace of iron or blood or anything gross. In fact, both my MOM and MATT tasted it!!! (My dad wasn’t too interested ; ) )

Upon Nicole’s recommendation, I took the capsules 3x a day the first week and then tapered off to once a day for a few weeks. I had finished about 2/3 of them by one month and decided to save the rest in my freezer. She said to take them during the baby’s growth spurts, any time I need energy or menopause! I noticed that when I stopped taking them after a month, my face broke out. Coincidence? I doubt it..

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I don’t have myself cloned as a control group to know what I would have felt like without placenta, but I will say this: my first month postpartum I felt completely energized and happy. Almost over-the-moon happy. I didn’t have a lick of baby blues, and given the little bit of sleep I was getting, I couldn’t believe how awake I felt. I’m very thankful of this because I know how difficult the postpartum period is for some women.

So between my energy, happiness, milk coming in and withdrawal breakouts, I’d say that the placenta did its job.

But really, we’ll never know!

30 Weeks: Yes, I Want To Eat My Placenta!

Let’s all approach this topic with a sense of humor.

Like this TIME article that is hilariously written by a dad whose wife wanted to encapsulate her placenta. His video made me laugh out loud 5 times! (And is a good snippet to what goes on during encapsulation).

So back to my placenta, hell yeah I want to ingest it!! I heard on Pregtastic that when you are pregnant you have more hormones in your body than your total hormones for the rest of your entire life. And then just after birth – you have the lowest amount of hormones you will ever have. It makes sense to me that this drop is so significant it can do crazy things to the mind and body, especially considering how much a little birth control pill or PMS hormone flux can do. Placenta eating is nothing new to mankind. In fact, I read a hypothesis on one website that said the practice’s benefits may have evolved for antibody/immune system support but that with later human immune system evolutionary advancement (which animals have yet to catch up with) combined with a “refined” modern society, it went out of style. I have no idea if that hypothesis has any truth to it, but it’s interesting to ponder.

Notice I said ingest. We are on point to have my placenta encapsulated. However, I can’t say the thought didn’t cross my mind to save $250 and just eat the thing!

My darling husband (with sense of humor in his voice) said:

“If you want me to, I will grill it! Heck I’ll take a bite!”

Matt is a very adventurous eater and I have no doubt that if grilled placenta was for dinner, he would try it.

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It sure would save money to just make a placenta smoothie. I’ve heard of people blending it up in the vita-mix as an ice cream milk shake and then freezing the cubes to be used in future smoothies. It really does sound like a good idea to me.

And my gosh, how viral would a homemade placenta recipe video go?! I have considered this…

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But when it comes down to it, I would eat my placenta, but I don’t really want to eat it. I do think it’s gross, and if I didn’t think there was a benefit to eating it, there’s no way in hell I’d take a bite. I might have mental trouble with the whole chewing part. I have studied photos of what they look like, but in all honesty, it doesn’t look that much different than the grass-fed beef steak I eat for dinner. Probably just as nutrient dene too…

But I can swallow a pill no problem, and I also see a benefit to taking the pills a little at a time over a long period of time over the whole placenta in one sitting. My mom, who is going through menopause and writes a menopause blog, even found this article with some evidence supporting placenta ingestion during menopause. I wonder if I should keep my pills locked up : ) I do intend to freeze any leftovers for later in life. I’ve heard popping one during PMS can actually help symptoms (just personal reports, of course).

So why am I so excited to take placenta pills?

-First I listened to this Pregtastic episode. The personal stories shared had me totally convinced of its effectiveness reducing postpartum depression and increasing milk supply.

-Other suspected benefits come from the different hormones, proteins and things found in the placenta: Mood stabilization, normalizes libido, regulates cramping from estrogen, progesterone and testosterone // Promotes lactation and milk supply from prolactin // Decreases pain, increases bonding and reduces bleeding from oxytocin // Stimulates natural opioids and reduces pain from Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor // Regulates the thyroid and boosts energy from TSH // Regulates Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) which may combat PPD // Reduces inflammation and swelling from Cortisone // Helps uterus return to pre-pregnancy size from Prostaglandins // Replenishes maternal iron // Boosts energy with hemoglobin // Stops bleeding and helps with healing with Urokinase Inhibiting Factor // Immune system support from IgG and Interferon…… even if only 2 of these actually work – worth it.   [Source]

-There is some scientific research supporting it, although nothing dramatic that has doctors prescribing placenta to all new moms. I imagine a PPD study would just be rather difficult to make objective. This site summarizes the suspected benefits and includes the limited research summaries. So does this one. It make sense to my gut (haha) that the replenishment of hormones, iron, prolactin, oxytocin and more mentioned above have positive effects. But when it comes down to it, the anecdotal evidence is enough to convince me.

-Two of my friends have encapsulated. One just had her second baby and said her postpartum difference in happiness was like night and day. Everyone who I have talked to says they are glad they did it. No one has regrets (and I think this person who did had too many variables to really attribute anything to the placenta itself. She might have just been allergic to an herb.) You might know the other friend : )

-There are TONS of testimonials – some are quite remarkable! This pregtastic blogger is glad she did it.

-And even if it’s all placebo effect – I want the placebo effect! I see no reason not to give it a try.

So our hospital bag will include a cooler and ice packs, and we have an encapsulation specialist on call to visit our home up from Richmond in the days after giving birth. Luckily our hospital is cool with giving you the placenta. I will let you know how it goes!

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Swingin’ Through The Weeks

Healthy Living While Pregnant

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