WARNING: If you click to read this post you will see lots of pictures of my baby’s placenta.
Once upon a time I ate iguana eggs, scrambled up and served with Corn Flakes. I went on a short-term, medical, faith-based trip with my father deep into the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. The kind woman who prepared the meals for our team (I know, I know) wasn’t sure what to do with the Corn Flakes that we brought, so she stirred them into the local delicacy she served us – scrambled iguana eggs. Mmmmm, delicious. I ate till my plate was clean because I was convinced I would offend her other wise. This is proof that I’m not faint of heart.
Which is why you shouldn’t be surprised that I ingested my own placenta for the radical medicinal and healing benefits it offers to a mother postpartum.
Eating iguana eggs was nothing like ingesting my placenta, though. Not even close.
First, I hired a specialist who came to my home the day after I gave birth to my son Noah (You can read his birth story here). Placenta Lady (as I lovingly refer to her as) cleaned my kitchen counters and made sure everything was put away. She scrubbed my sink within an inch of its life with her own cleaning supplies. She pulled out a trash bag that she brought, and some stainless steel bowls, and covered all the counters in butcher paper. Then she removed my placenta from the fridge where it was sitting inside a small cooler, doubled bagged, inside two one-gallon zip lock bags, Placenta lady put on some impressive gloves and got right to it.
(Click on any image to view it larger)
She removed all the excess blood and clots by thoroughly washing my placenta under running water (this took quite a bit of time).
She then performed a dissection of sorts and removed the amion and chorion, (learn about the uses of the amnion and chorion by clicking here.) which were still almost completely intact. Placenta Lady raved that she had never seen such an intact amniotic sac, which totally made me proud of my diet during pregnancy (eating *when possible organic* eggs often and foods that are rich in Vit C and beta carotene are believed to be helpful in building a strong amniotic sac). I also used a liquid prenatal vitamin called Natures Plus and drank red raspberry leaf tea in large quantities. I’m not sure if my choice of prenatal and RRL had anything to do with quality of my amniotic sac, but I thought I would mention it.
She removed the umbilical cord from the placenta and shaped it into a heart and laid it on butcher paper, right next to the amnion and chorion. Placenta Lady commented on how nice and white the cord was, proof that we chose delayed clamping. A white cord means that very little blood lingers in the veins of the cord. A dark cord is a sign that blood was still pumping through it when it was clamped.
She then took the placenta and placed it in a double broiler to steam (she provided everything; none of my own pots and pans, bowls or knives were used). Surprisingly enough, there was not an odor while cooking. In fact, I couldn’t smell anything other than the herbs she added to the placenta.
After the placenta was steamed Placenta Lady cut it into very thin strips, laid it on trays covered with paper and placed a tray with the sliced placenta and a tray containing the amniotic sac and umbilical cord into the dehydrator.
Placenta lady cleaned up everything. In fact, my kitchen was cleaner after she left. She let me know she would be by the next day. She gave me instructions as to when to turn off the dehydrator (after 12 hours). Other than that, I was to simply leave everything alone.
When Placenta Lady arrived the next day, she ground up the placenta, amniotic sac (but not the cord, that was a keepsake) into a loose powder, placed the powder into capsules (my placenta gave me 168 capsules), and placed the capsules into a charming glass mason jar. Placenta Lady gave me detailed instructions on how and when to take my placenta pills, what its uses and benefits were, and what to expect from them. She also provided me with a list of local resources for postpartum depression.
But wait, why in the world would you ingest your baby’s placenta? Glad you asked. Let’s get to it.
Here’s why. The benefits of placenta encapsulation are compelling:
Decrease in baby blues and postpartum depression.
I did not experience postpartum anxiety like I did with Zoe’s birth (where I didn’t take placenta pills). In fact, I was in touch and happy and felt very aware and calm.
Increase and enrich breastmilk.
Yes. I had MORE than enough.
Increase in energy.
Absolutely, I was feeling ready to run within days.
Decrease in postpartum bleeding.
I was using panty liners by the fourth day postpartum. That’s just AWESOME in my book.
Decrease iron deficiency.
I never felt physically weak, dizzy or tired. Honestly!
Decrease insomnia or sleep disorders.
I actually slept! With Zoe, I couldn’t sleep, I stayed up for hours wanting to sleep but not able to. With Noah, I slept like a dream!
Decreases postpartum night sweats.
I was drenched every night the first few weeks postpartum with Zoe. With Noah I had NO night sweats. I didn’t know that placenta pills relieved this (till I did some further research to write this post). I remembering being so glad not having night sweats and wondered what was different this time around. Now I know!
The placenta is this amazing organ that your body creates for you and your baby during pregnancy. It acts as your body’s hormone factory throughout your pregnancy, regulating and producing a different variety of hormones including serotonin and oxytocin. You see, during pregnancy the placenta takes over most of the hormone production in your body. This is great, except when your placenta is gone, those hormones take a dramatic dip and are practically nill in your body. It takes a while for your brain to get back to regulating these hormones. By ingesting your placenta, it is believed, and shown through small studies, that you can replenish your body with the hormones that linger inside the placenta. The amazing thing is that the placenta’s hormonal make-up is unique to the mother. No prescription, vitamin or herbal supplement can do what one placenta pill can (source). And that is why I ate my placenta.
But you don’t only have to take my word for it, you can check out these resources below which include the studies revealing the benefits of consuming your placenta. These links will also help you locate a specialist near you who will encapsulate your placenta.