Before you think this is something you never, ever would think of doing… Read on. It’s not as looney as you think.
Mothers who consume their placenta are not just sitting at the table with a knife and fork. There are many different ways a placenta can be prepared. One of the most common is to have a specialist make it into a powder and put it into a pill form. Most specialists can also make chocolates, salve, smoothies, tincture, and other items.
I was planning on getting my placenta encapsulated after my home birth. I certainly wasn’t keen on drinking a smoothie with a chunk of it floating around in there. I’m the person who gags from trying to eat an oyster. Weird textures just don’t go over well. However, minutes after my son was born my midwife shared a concern that I was bleeding, a lot. She suggested trying a smoothie. In fear of hemorrhage or transfer to the hospital, I said, ‘Bring it on.’
Not only did the bleeding slow down, but I found great pain relief! Who would have known that after your third child, those after birth contractions would be so intense? I found myself asking for a smoothie every couple of hours.
And here’s the kicker… it tasted… like…
a strawberry smoothie.
Sorry to disappoint. In a 2 quart blender filled with fruits (or whatever you fancy), there is only a small piece of your placenta. I would say it’s about the size of a Snapple cap. So it’s no wonder, there is no taste.
I went on to enjoy my placenta pills more and more. I was taking 6 a day. It got to the point where when I was having an off day, my husband would ask me, ‘Hey, did you take your placenta pills today?’ It helped me when I was feeling weepy, it increased my milk production, and whenever my body ached, it acted as a natural pain relief.
We need to talk about what’s in the placenta so we can understand why consuming the placenta is widely boasted as one of the best decisions a new mom can make. Moms talk about it warding off baby blues, increasing milk supply, relieving pain, the benefits go on…
Um, you might want to get comfortable for this next bit.
WHAT IS IN MY PLACENTA?
Placenta is filled with Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. These hormones prepare for lactation, stabilize mom’s postpartum mood decreasing depression, regulate post-birth uterine cramping and they normalize and stimulate the libido.
Prolactin is another hormone present that promotes lactation, increases milk supply, and enhances the mothering instinct.
My favorite hormone, Oxytocin… Oxytocin decreases pain and increases bonding in mom and baby. It counteracts the production of stress hormones and greatly reduces postpartum bleeding. If that’s not enough, it also enhances the famous let-down reflex necessary for breastfeeding.
Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids, including endorphins. It works to reduce pain and increase mom’s well-being.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone regulates the thyroid gland, boosts energy, and supports recovery from stressful events.
Low levels of the Corticotrophin Releasing Hormone are implicated in postpartum depression. This is why regulating this hormone, which is in your placenta, helps ward off depression.
Cortisone is in there too which reduces inflammation and swelling as well as it promotes healing.
Interferon triggers the protective defenses of the immune system to help fight infection.
Prostaglandins regulate contractions in the uterus after birth and help the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size.
Iron combats anemia, a common postpartum condition. Iron can also increase energy, decreases fatigue, and depression. If you are normally low in iron, let your specialist know so they can prepare your placenta differently to benefit you best.
Hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying molecule, provides a boost in energy.
Urokinase Inhibiting Factor and Factor XIII stops bleeding and enhances wound healing.
Immunoglobulin G supports the immune system.
Human Placental Lactogen promotes mammary gland growth in preparation for lactation in the mother. It also regulates maternal glucose, protein, and fat levels.
PHEW. That was a lot.
I decided then and there… everyone needs to know about placentophagy. I felt it was a shame that this amazing organ was going to waste after birth. Why is it that we are one of the only mammals that do not consume it after birth? Out of over 4000 species of placental mammals, only a handful don’t normally consume it, humans being one.
The most important part of deciding to consume your placenta is to listen to your body. Some women might take 1 pill a day and some might take 4. You have to respond to what your body is telling you.
Do your research and seek out a specialist that is able to answer your questions.
Once you decide that this is what is right for you, it’s important to ensure that your provider is aware. Just simply letting them know you wish to keep your placenta should suffice. It has to be kept cold after the birth so I suggest that the mother bring a small cooler and a gallon Ziploc bag to the hospital. If you should encounter issues, your placenta specialist will be able to help in answering your questions.
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