The placenta is a truly amazing organ. For nine months it homes and nourishes our babies in a way that no man has ever been able to replicate. It is formed from the same sperm and egg that babies develop from. It grows perfectly with the baby, providing exactly what the baby needs at the different stages of pregnancy.
After my first two births I have no idea to what end my placentas came to. In surgical births you don't really get a chance to admire that first home of your newborn baby. They just clean it up with the rest of the "mess" and cart it away. Well, in a home birth, it's up to you to dispose or do otherwise with your own placenta. I've always had plans of burying my placenta's in the "Pet Cemetery" at the farm where I keep my horses.
But then, several months before I got pregnant, I learned about placentophagy, the act of eating your placenta after childbirth.
Let me stop right there and tell you that when Jared and I got married, he would never have imagined that 7 1/2 years later I'd be birthing our third child in our living room and eating my own placenta. I had an inkling about the home birth, but never would have dreamed of ingesting placenta.
Yet, here I am, two weeks and two days postpartum, and I am ready to become the poster child for the practice!
While I have never suffered from postpartum depression or had issues with milk supply, the two most sought after benefits of consuming ones placenta, I have felt the "baby blues" in the days after birth, and was very curious to see what other advantages I might gain from it. So, in the minutes after birth I made sure my placenta was saved and properly stored and called my friend Susan from Pure Birth Services to come pick it up and do her magic! While the placenta capsules are often prepared using the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of steaming the placenta with healing herbs prior to dehydrating and encapsulating it, I asked Susan to prepare mine raw.
There is lots of information online about why you might consume your own placenta, including:
- balancing your hormones after childbirth
- replenishing your lost iron supply (most moms loose 1/10th to 1/8th of their body's iron during childbirth)
- giving you more energy
- shortening postpartum bleeding time
- increasing milk supply
- reducing the chance of postpartum depression
- quickening the involution of the uterus to pre-pregnancy state
- it can even be helpful during menopause, if you save the pills until then
On the second morning after I had the baby Susan brought me back my placenta, now encapsulated into well over 100 capsules, for me to take over the coming weeks and months.
I immediately took two pills, and continued to do so over the course of the day. That night my milk "came in", something that doesn't usually happen that quickly after childbirth. And, while it may be just because this little one is my third baby, my milk supply also settled very quickly, by day four. With both Eli and Silas I battled over-supply for weeks. I recall sitting on the toilet after Eli was born with milk dripping from my very swollen breasts, in such pain, sobbing and sobbing. I felt none of that this time.
In fact, I have not felt a moment of the very typical "baby blues." I haven't had a weepy day. I haven't felt overly tired. I have felt so good I've had to force myself to take it easy for these past two weeks.
At my appointment this week Carol, my midwife, said that my uterus has shrunk to where most women's are at 12 weeks. I have almost completely stopped bleeding, at two weeks, which didn't happen until 6 weeks postpartum with my past births.
Perhaps it's all in my head, perhaps it's just a placebo, but it's working, and that's fantastic! I will definitely encapsulate my placenta again, and am excited to see what other benefits I will discover still.
Unfortunately it hasn't helped me pick a name for this baby: He Who Must Not Be Named.