Once a trend of the holistic community is now starting to become more mainstream with women concerned over issues such as milk production and post pardom depression who are looking for options that actually work.
While I was in the hospital I watched an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians where Kim herself brought up the idea of ingesting the placenta to her family. She then served them up a brisket made to resemble a human placenta as a practical joke since they were off put by the idea. MInd you, she also believes that the placenta is where the baby lives inside the belly and she also proposed to have bought a human placenta online.
Howsabout we shed some intellectual light on the subject that the E channel simply can not provide.
Some might picture the consumption as a sit down to a lovely freshly made placenta pot roast dinner. Carving off slice by slice and trying not to gag while choking it down with as much water as it takes to fill a swimming pool. Or perhaps envisioning Dr. Lecter and a nice chianti. While you are indeed free to eat your placenta in this mater it isn’t really reality.
So what is the deal with placenta encapsulation?
Who do you call?
How does it work?
When I was pregnant with Charlie I was very “mainstream” with a very conventional obstetrician, delivering in a New York City hospital. It wasn’t until after he was born that I began leaning more towards the holistic lifestyle and away from the commercial.
When I was pregnant with Van, during the discussion of the upcoming birth, my midwife asked me, “what about the placenta?” At this point I knew of placenta encapsulation but I confessed that I just wasn’t there yet. The thought of ingesting my placenta in any form quite frankly grossed me out.
And then I had an extremely difficult recovery. One that would last years.
Pregnant with Maddox one thing I was sure of was having this placenta encapsulated. I would try anything to help make this recovery better. I briefly considered and researched encapsulating the placenta myself since I actually own all of the necessary equipment. But then taking into consideration the reality of those first few difficult days post pardom, with two older siblings to take care of, this was not a task I felt comfortable undertaking.
Being a home birth midwife I knew Jessica would have the skinny on encapsulators in my area. Sure enough she connected me with Shannon from One Love Placenta. And after Maddox’s birth, I was grateful to be having this professionally done. All set and ready to go prior to delivery.
Shannon and I communicated through email where she walked me through all of the details and consulted with me on the best method.
During the month surrounding my birth, Shannon was “on call.” I put in my birth plan that I wanted my placenta and made sure everyone knew it. Once delivered, the hospital staff put it into a bowl and brought it to me in recovery. It never left my sight. A quick text to let her know the baby was born and she arrived at the hospital for pick up a few hours later. Had it taken longer, or had I needed to bring it home with me four days later, it would have been put it in a refrigerator to ensure it stayed fresh. Thankfully the staff at my hospital was very familiar with what to do as they are finding more and more moms requesting their placentas.
As I mentioned, there are options for encapsulation depending on different factors and what the particular encapsulator offers. Shannon offers two:
The Raw Method
“This method involves first washing, then slicing the placenta while fresh and raw and dehydrating it immediately. The placenta is dehydrated at 160 degrees for at least an hour according to USDA safety recommendations for dehydrating meat, the temperature is then reduced to 145 for at least 11 hours. At this temperature, bacteria are destroyed, but essential hormones and iron remain. This method yields a balanced response as it encompasses both the emotion balancing aspects of the TCM method and energy increasing properties of the Raw method. This method usually produces 100-200 capsules.”
The Traditional Chinese Method (TCM)
“In this method, your placenta will be steamed with jalapeño, ginger and lemon before dehydrating (these herbs are not included in the capsules.) The placenta is then dehydrated at 145 degrees for at least 10 hours. TCM has a long history in preserving and recognizing the placenta as vital medicine, it is thought to bring the mother’s body back into balance. Steaming the placenta with herbs is integral to the TCM method because the placenta will then take on warming properties that nourish the blood, balance emotions and restore energy. This method also kills any bacteria. Additional herbs may be used in the steaming process upon request. This method usually produces 75-125 capsules.”
When picking which one was right for me, I consulted with Shannon and Jessica. Jessica’s advice was that if my group strep B test came back negative to go with the raw method. Positive than go with the TCM. The results were in and we collectively chose the raw method.
And then the birth did not go as planned.
Between the epidural, pitocin, morphine and god only knows what else was pumping into me during my cesarean section, the method of choice changed to the TCM. To ensure the best results. The bigger the baby, the bigger the placenta and mine yielded 130 capsules.
Since I spent a much longer time in the hospital than we initially intended, Shannon delivered my pills exactly 24 hours later to my hospital room, instead of to my home. As well as placenta prints, a cord keepsake, a placenta tincture and a Ball jar full of a fresh loose leaf post pardom tea. All of which are in the picture above.
When Shannon came to my room to deliver all the goodies I was in an awful mood. She recommended I take three capsules three times a day. I took my first three and immediately my mood noticeably changed. I remembered Jessica telling me that Shannon has a “special kind of mojo” where her clients always remark about how her encapsulations give them good vibes that translate into great moods.
But you might be asking yourself, why would anyone want to ingest their placenta?
Did you know that humans are actually the only mammal that doesn’t regularly ingest their placentas. Granted we’re generally not delivering out in the Serengeti with lions chasing us down by the smell of a fresh placenta and newborn baby for dinner.
So for us Westerners, it’s not necessarily about survival but about recovery and restoration.
“It is full of mood-enhancing hormones, healing chemicals and iron, which can be gradually welcomed back into your body. Preserving the placenta through encapsulation allows mothers the opportunity to access placenta power to aid in post-partum recovery.
Placenta encapsulation is a safe and effective process that offers women the following healing properties and benefits:
- Increased energy in the days, weeks and months after birth.
- Balanced emotions, less ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression.
- Faster involution of the uterus (return to normal size), and less bleeding.
- Rapid healing time from birth tears or trauma.
- Greater milk supply and ease of breastfeeding.
- Restoration of essential hormones, nutrients & minerals.”
Had my delivery gone as planned the benefits of the placenta pills would have been welcomed. Having had the difficult delivery I had, the pills became an essential part of my recovery.
After the c-section, my iron dropped and my doctor suggested I take supplements three times a day for six months. Thankfully I had been preparing for a large amount of blood loss for months before I even went into labor and the capsules have been a huge help in restoring what was lost.
Although my latest birth did include some traumatic moments. When I look back on those moments I find myself able to let them go. To focus on the positive aspects of that day. To feel good about this birth experience. Whether this is an effect of the pills or not I can not exactly say but I can’t imagine I would feel as good emotionally had it not been for them.
One thing I have never had an issue with is nursing and milk supply. However after taking the placenta pills I had more milk than a cow hoped up on bovine growth hormone. Which also came in before I even left the hospital. This being my third breastfed baby. I can say from experience that my milk came in quicker than ever before and my cup literally runneth over.
Now just over a month post pardom anytime I feel I might be entering an emotionally or physically stressful time. For example the first day my husband went back to work and I was left alone with my three boys. I take a placenta pill. In order to relieve some of the stress, to maintain a better mood and attitude and to physically feel better.
Based on my three experiences giving birth and then recovering from those births I would very highly recommend placenta encapsulation to anyone and everyone. While I can’t scientifically offer percentages of the benefits or contents of my placenta. I can tell you that all things considered I feel great. And I have never felt this good in the post pardom period during my placenta pill free recoveries. Although science is great, sometimes you have to trust in yourself and your body to supply you with what you need most at times when you need it the most. Ingesting one’s placenta is doing just that.
Once you go placenta, you never go back. If we ever did have another baby I would absolutely encapsulate again with Shannon. And if this is my last baby I am happy to have the placenta tincture which with proper care can last forever. And will assist myself and my children during times of sickness, trauma and stress. As well as being an aide once menopause rears it’s ugly head.
If you have any questions about placenta encapsulation you can ask me here and I can either answer them or forward any i can not answer to Shannon or you can contact her directly on her website, through her email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 919.724.5845. Shannon currently services Northern and Central New Jersey as well as Manhattan and Brooklyn New York.