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I know what you’re thinking. I know, I know, I know. I thought that, too. You ate your placenta?!! Yes…yes, I did. But first, let me explain!! After my second pregnancy, I experienced severe Postpartum Depression. Once I became pregnant with my third, I did a ton of research on how I could avoid the horrifying despair I experienced my earlier pregnancy. Trust me on this when I say that I don’t ever want to go through that again. Ever.
During my research, I read that by consuming the placenta, or afterbirth, it can help ward off those symptoms. There’s even a term for it: Placentophagy! I did even more research, and was surprised that while not exactly mainstream, this is an ancient practice. Sixteenth century Chinese would consume the placenta after the birth of a son–and it wasn’t just the mom consuming it, but the family, too!
According to Placentawise.com, the placenta is composed of beneficial hormones, chemicals, iron, and proteins. These healing substances include:
- Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone: Contributes to mammary gland development in preparation for lactation; stabilizes postpartum mood; regulates post-birth uterine cramping.
- Prolactin: Promotes lactation; increases milk supply; enhances the mothering instinct.
- Oxytocin: Decreases pain and increases bonding in mother and infant; counteracts the production of stress hormones such as Cortisol; greatly reduces postpartum bleeding; enhances the breastfeeding let-down reflex.
- Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF): Stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids, including endorphins; reduces pain; increases well-being.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: Regulates the thyroid gland; boosts energy.
- Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH): Regulation of CRH helps prevent depression.
- Cortisone: Reduces inflammation and swelling; promotes healing.
- Interferon: Triggers the protective defenses of the immune system to fight infection.
- Prostaglandins: Regulates contractions in the uterus after birth; helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size.
- Iron: Replenishes maternal iron stores to combat anemia. Increases energy; decreases fatigue and depression.
- Hemoglobin: Oxygen-carrying molecule which provides a boost in energy.
- Urokinase Inhibiting Factor and Factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG): Antibody molecules which support the immune system.
- Human Placental Lactogen (hPL): This hormone has lactogenic and growth-promoting properties; promotes mammary gland growth in preparation for lactation in the mother. It also regulates maternal glucose, protein, and fat levels.
That being said, I’m not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be one. However, I would do anything to avoid PPD again. Some research suggests that it’s just a placebo effect. Okay…so what? Even if it’s a placebo effect, at least it works, right?! So what if it’s my brain tricking me?! The point is to avoid PPD…! So, I bit the bullet. I did it. I bought all the supplies.
By now, all of my friends are thinking…”You have gone bat poop crazy!“
After my home water birth, the midwives put the placenta in a glass bowl in the fridge until I could tend to it. In horror, my five-year old ran upstairs and whispered in my ear “MOM! There’s blood in the fridge!” I giggled, and told her that’s what had fed her little brother while he was in my tummy!
I used the Traditional Chinese Medicine way of preparing the placenta for encapsulation, which included steaming it with herbs. After steaming, I cut it into little pieces. Yes. Like meat. I’m a pretty crunchy mom, but even I had a hard time with this. I then put it in our food dehydrator. Once dry, I got a whiff of it and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t grind up the placenta. My stomach couldn’t handle it. So, my brave husband did it for me in the coffee grinder. Yup, you read that right. The coffee grinder. He put the grounds into a glass bowl for me to encapsulate. I wore a scarf around my nose and mouth so I couldn’t breathe it in. It smelled so gross.
Encapsulating it was the fun part. I did kind of feel like a drug dealer, though. It was quite the sight to see–me, nursing Christian in the recliner, with a card table in front of me and my Cap-M-Quik capsule filler filled with this brown substance.
You’re probably wondering if I actually swallowed the pills. I did! I made 100 capsules! I’ve got a ton leftover, too, which can be stored indefinitely and used when needed. I also made a tincture, and salve. You’re probably also wondering how I feel. I feel really good. I started working out just 3 weeks postpartum, and the only time I cried was when he was 6 weeks and I was returning to work for four hours. It was my longest stretch without him. You would cry, too. I’ll post the tutorial soon on how you can make your own tincture, salve, and even how to encapsulate your placenta.
Until then, enjoy your supper. 🙂 But before I go…I have to know–how many of my followers have done the same, or know someone who did? How did it turn out?
(I’d like to thank my dear friend, Cady, for sharing this link with me: http://www.beingfilled.com/2013/03/should-christian-mothers-eat-placentas.html )