Why I Ingested my Placenta
Did I get your attention? GOOD. You are either intrigued and have a desire to learn more information about this “taboo” practice OR you are puking in the bathroom right now and ready to unfriend me! Either way, here is why I decided to ingest my placenta and it was the best choice I ever made for me and our baby.
Now, don’t get me wrong, when someone first told me about this utterly crazy practice of eating my own placenta I thought they were certifiably off their rocker. I mean, I am all for naturally clean living but I also don’t live in a commune wearing Birkenstocks, a flower headband while cooking up some placenta flank steaks. Seriously, this is the year 2012 (when my baby girl was born) and people just don’t do that in first-world countries, right?
Then I researched and my eyes opened to this ancient art. I could see why millions of new mothers in countries all over the world still participate in this practice. You see, we are beyond blessed to have so many conveniences and resources at our fingertips in America, but why can’t we see how each of those “short-cuts” have actually made our society MORE unhealthy and have created a distaste for anything steeped in ancient tradition? I will go as far to say that this practice is something innately designed in our nature (should you choose it). It is no different then why we want to avoid removing organs unnecessarily from our bodies. They were placed there by our creator for a reason to maintain health by allowing our bodies to work to their best abilities.
I will share at the end just how I did after ingesting my placenta
Some mothers and midwives believe the placenta offers benefits that help recovery after birth – allowing women to regain energy, allow appropriate levels of bleeding, increase milk production and fight off “baby blues” or even a more severe form of sadness. Physicians tend to be skeptical, pointing to the lack of scientific evidence and regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. To that I say, of course they are skeptical! Are they not “skeptical” of most things natural because of a lack of hard scientific evidence? And of course we all know that the very problem with obtaining said evidence is that nature is pretty hard to nail down. It is ever changing, not synthetic and pretty hard to test in a lab and make billions of dollars from in profits. That is why nature works in perfect harmony with us. I will address the scientific portion later but for me, I say whatever…the possible benefits of this crazy practice of placenta encapsulation is well worth taking a leap of faith!
The Animals all do it
There are documented benefits of placentophagia in animals, relating primarily to enhancing pain relief during labor and delivery, and helping to produce immediate maternal behavior at delivery because of the mother’s attraction to afterbirth material on the young. Non human mothers find afterbirth irresistibly attractive at delivery, but clearly most human mothers do not.
Why is the Placenta so important to mother and baby?
During pregnancy, it is connected to the baby by the umbilical cord and attaches to the mother loosely inside the uterus. Baby’s blood flows into the placenta through umbilical arteries, travels through a network of capillaries and returns, carrying back oxygen and nutrients delivered to the placenta by the mother’s blood.
The placenta is absolutely necessary for growth, development and birth of a healthy baby. It’s really a life-support device that acts as the “breath” for the baby. It produces and regulates hormones involved in pregnancy and birth and removes waste. It acts as protection for the baby, and it maintains an immunologically inactive interface with the mother to prevent rejection. In this way, the mother’s immune system becomes “tolerant” of the pregnancy.
Benefits of the Placenta
- Control postpartum hemorrhage
- Possible reduction of the “baby blues”
- Balance hormones
- Restore mother’s healthy iron levels
- Help increase mother’s milk supply
- Increase energy levels
- promote weight management
How can placenta be consumed?
- Eaten raw (I will NOT be partaking in this!)
- Cooked in a stew or stir fry (nope not for me either!)
- Made into a tincture (hmmm possibly)
- Dehydrated and put into smoothies (um no!)
- Dehydrated and encapsulated in pill form (yes this sounds great!)
Ok I know what you are saying…but where is the science?
The studies we do have mostly deal with animals, however it does give some insight. We know that certain groups of peoples have consumed the placenta and we know that most of the other groups of peoples do not. We know that most mammals consume their placentas, but some mammals do not.
There are NO studies on the benefits of human placenta consumption. None. The few that are available, deal with no control groups. So, with that said it really is important to see if this practice is something you want to do. I have learned thru many of our health trials that when it comes to natural options the traditional “scientific” studies are hard to come by. So, we just educate ourselves and weigh the pro’s or possible con’s. In 99% of all things we have done there are no “ill-effects”, which is why we will always choose natural vs. synthetic.
So what was my experience?
I basically decided on a whim to just go for it. I read up on the possible benefits, prayed about it and decided it was the best thing I could do for the wellbeing of myself and my baby girl.
My husband was all for it as long as he didn’t see “it” or hear any gruesome details. In my birth plan I specifically stated to keep the placenta and we also delayed chord clamping. My wonderful Physician obliged and I was not given any grief, maybe because I was very confident about my decisions. The next morning I called my Doula and she picked it up from the hospital and took it home to do her thing. It was very seamless and EASY. A day later when I arrived home the pills were dropped off and I was good to go! It cost around $200 and was seriously the BEST investment I ever made.
I started with 2-3 pills a day and to be honest I was not really sure what to expect. The most significant change I experienced immediately was ENERGY! I was not tired one bit. With a newborn AND two active boys, I was perfectly happy to keep up with all household tasks and daily routines. The husband started asking, “did you take your pills today?” Ha !!!
My milk was like a waterfall! This was great because I did have to pump for a short time since I developed a severe case of “sore nipples” and it was extremely painful to nurse. Being able to store extra milk was a blessing.
I had ZERO mood swings. Seriously ZERO. I was cool as a cucumber and with the craziness in our house my husband was very thankful. After a month he was laying the pills out for me.
All in all they lasted about 4 months. I was told I had a very nice, large placenta. Yahoo!
After two months I was easily back to my pre-baby weight, and adjusting quite nicely to being a mom of three. In my book, ingesting my placenta was critical to a successful third delivery and recovery.
How do you know if it is right for you?
There are some women where this just does not work for them. They report feeling worse, and then others feel incredibly better. I encourage trying it, because what do you have to lose? Research what you can and make the best decision for you and your family. My only regret in this whole process was not doing it with my two boys, unfortunately I just didn’t know about it then.
There are no laws to regulate retrieval or consumption of placentas, but I would confirm with your hospital or delivery center that you will be able to take ownership of your placenta before you give birth.
Click here to find local Midwives or Doulas in your area
All in all, it was a very eye-opening and transformative experience. Maybe I am that hippie in a commune! Many of my friends and family had no idea I even did this, guess the cats out of the bag now…
The information on this email/blog/post/correspondence is for educational purposes only and it is my life story. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician.