This blog post is inspired by a question I got asked on Monday. It might freak some people out so if reading about placentas and the consumption thereof makes your stomach turn, maybe skip to the previous blog post. If you are curious about placenta encapsulation, why I did it and if I would recommend it- read on…
NOTE: This probably goes without saying, but my decision to encapsulate my placenta was a personal one and may not be right for you. Please do your own research and speak with your doctor/doula/midwife before making any decisions regarding your health and healthcare.
Ok, so here we go. When I was pregnant with Zoe, I was super scared that I would develop post partum depression as I did with Khloe 3 years prior. It was one hell of an ugly road and I was not prepared to go down there again. I also had health complications during my pregnancy and it made me feel even more anxious. I was really worried on how I am going to cope with two kids and my own company. So I took the decision from a mental and physical stand point.
Why did I decide to do it?
There have been no real studies to this day that can prove that consuming your placenta after birth is going to save you from PND. Placenta encapsulation has gained a lot of traction in the past years but it is not a new practice. It has even part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Placenta encapsulation is said to assist in the alleviation of anxiety and fatigue as well as replace lost iron and nutrients in post parts women. So the “evidence” is largely based on personal experience and historical. Reading this during my research left me feeling a little concerned but as I continued to look into the pros and cons of placenta encapsulation, it became quite clear to me that the possible benefits greatly outweighed the risks, which seemed to center around the fact that encapsulating the placenta seems gross, can be expensive and freaks a lot of people out if you decide to share your decision with others.
But I decided to give it a try,
The benefits of placenta encapsulation appear to be numerous and include:
•Restoration of iron levels in the blood
•Increase in milk production
•Increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the infant
•Increase in CRH, a stress-reducing hormone
•Decreased levels of depression and anxiety
- Limited Research Studies – Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research on placentophagy, and it is difficult to conduct as a research study. In order for a study to be accurate, there needs to be a test group that receives a placenta, and a control group which does not (may receive nothing, or may be told they are receiving a placenta treatment when they are not). Further, participants who choose to consume their own placenta may already be aware of the potential benefits of eating their placenta and may expect them – essentially a self fulfilling prophecy (IE the placebo effect).
- May Consume Toxins – The placenta acts as a sort of ‘barrier’ between mom and baby, helping the fight of foreign entities that may cause infection. This includes the things that mom knowingly and unknowingly come into a contact with. One analysis of human placenta showed it to contain mercury, lead and other bacteria.
Still the cons did not stop me.
How did I do it?
I had my placenta encapsulated by a professional who had years of experience as well references.
During my stay at the hospital, my doctor and nurses were aware that I wanted to keep my placenta to have it encapsulated and after delivery, my placenta it was stored for me at the hospital and was given to my doula to encapsulate. I received my capsules with detailed instructions the following day from her at the hospital.
A quick note: At many hospitals, your doctor must sign a medical release form to allow you to bring your placenta home while some hospitals consider the placenta bio hazardous waste and will not allow the placenta to be released to the patient, so definitely discuss this with your doctor ahead of time so you don’t get a surprise!
The doula dehydrated the placenta, ground the placenta down to a fine powder and placed it into capsules. The placenta often yields between 100 and 200 capsules and the number of pills consumed daily will vary.
Ok, how much did it cost?
Prices for Placenta encapsulation varies. I paid for mine in advance when she was running a special. It can cost from R1500 to R3500 for the process.
Did it work and would I do it again?
It most definitely worked for me. I was a lot calmer and less anxious. I had no problems in regards to my milk coming in and that was really important to me as I wanted to breastfeed. I was also less tired than with Khloe and I was honestly surprised how good I felt despite having a prem infant nursing every two hours. I still had some highs and lows (that is normal) but nothing compared to what I went through the first time. But I felt good physically and emotionally.
Do I think this had to do with consuming my placenta? I have no idea… But I will absolutely do it again if it can have even the slightest positive effect on me physically and mentally after giving birth.