Placenta Consumption?

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Lots-o-Tots's picture
Joined: 01/29/06
Posts: 574
Placenta Consumption?

I've been having a tough time postpartum. Not surprising, given that Scarlett is my seventh, all the kids are home on summer break, I'm dealing with the usual postpartum hormone plunge, and frankly, I just feel like I'm too old for this Sad I've had PPD in the past (after my first two), and some degree of baby blues after the rest, and I really don't know at this point if I'm dealing with BB or PPD (seems a little too early to say). I'm irritable and short-tempered, I feel overwhelmed, and I break down in tears a lot. I'm actually not sleep-deprived, as Scarlett sleeps next to me in bed and all I have to do is roll over to nurse her, but I am obviously physically and emotionally drained from trying to meet the needs of seven kids all day every day. And I don't have any attachment issues with regard to the baby - I love her to pieces, I truly do.

Anyway. My midwife has been trying to convince me to consume my placenta, which is currently in the freezer. She says this can go a long way in helping even out hormones, etc. I confess that I am super squeamish about this, even though she said you can just take very small portions of it and blend it up in a smoothie. There's something that seems rather cannibalistic about it to me! And besides, I thought the placenta was more of a filter between mom and baby, which implies to me that it might have toxins in it.

Just wondering if anyone here can shed some light on this topic. I know that consuming one's placenta is not unheard of.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

Yes, yes, yes!!! It's so good for post-partum moms! If the smoothie idea isn't sitting well, you can also dry it, grind it up, and put it into empty capsules that you can buy at the drugstore. You could probably hire someone to do it for you, I know a lot of doulas around here offer that as part of their full service. It'll last for a few weeks at room temp, a few years in the freezer. Human placenta is second only to liver as an iron-rich organ meat, and it probably has no more toxins than a liver might have, and people eat liver all the time. Plus, part of pregnancy is avoiding a lot of toxins that you might normally consume. Traditional Chinese Medicine also uses human placenta to help balance a woman's hormones during menopause and to manage the stress when leaving baby to return to work.

Sweet Pea Twins's picture
Joined: 09/08/09
Posts: 922

Lisa, I know a lot of women who encapsulate their placenta and take it in pill form - that way you can reap the hormonal benefits for weeks. Consuming your placenta can help regulate your hormones, and provides nutrients that you lose in child birth. Nearly all mammals consume their placentas after giving birth, and though still rare in American culture, an increasing number of mothers are consuming their placenta in raw or capsule form.

I suffer from anxiety for which I have taken a daily medication for a couple of years. I have not taken my meds at all during my pregnancy, and happen to have been pretty okay, I assume because of the hormone and body changes, but I expect fully that I will have a HARD time after the birth. I don't want to start taking my meds again while I am BFing if I can help it, so I've already arranged for my doula to encapsulate my placenta.

A little blurb from my doula's placenta encapsulation webpage:

When in doubt, always plan to save your placenta. While it’s best to encapsulate a fresh placenta (one that is only a day or two old and has been refrigerated) you can also encapsulate a frozen placenta. Therefore, if you think there’s even a tiny chance you might want to do this, take your placenta home after your birth and put it in the freezer. That way, if your postpartum period isn’t going well and you feel like you need a boost, you can always decide to encapsulate your placenta weeks after the birth. If you don’t bring it home, it’s gone forever.

The placenta is an amazing organ your body grows for the sole purpose of nourishing your baby. It is full of natural oxytocins which are responsible for contracting the uterus and minimizing postpartum bleeding. It also contains hormones which have been shown to help in the relief of postpartum depression. Women who use placenta say it makes them feel nurtured. It is also believed to help increase milk supply and iron levels in the mother.

I know a number of women that I have met on PO who have consumed their placenta in smoothies and stuff, too. I am with you on that one though - it makes me squeamish, so I'm not sure I could do that. But the encapsulation makes it seem much less icky to me.

Anyway, I'm in no way an expert, but wanted to share with you what I know. Smile

Marite13's picture
Joined: 08/07/09
Posts: 3368

I am a mamma that has struggled with depression outside of pregnancy/postpartum, so I have to be extra careful with pregnancy and postpartum. I have encapsulated my placenta after both births (once I paid to have it done, this time my mom and I did it), and honestly, I start to feel WAY better as soon as I start taking it. I'm like you- I don't feel sleep deprived, but my hormones def go crazy, I get sad, emotionally tired, overwhelmed, etc... and the placenta just helps SO MUCH. I take 6 pills a day until I stop feeling crazy, and then just slowly use up the rest.

sarahsunshine's picture
Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1462

There’s a whole bunch of information about eating your placenta. Most commonly these days, people dehydrate and take in pill form (placenta encapsulation - do a search on this site for more threads about it). Personally, I haven’t had PPD (diagnosed), but I’ve definitely had a hard time after baby is born. After my last one, I decided to eat my placenta to see if it would help, because it seemed like a cheap option. I can say for sure I had hardly any issues post-partum related to depression or even baby blues, and I do attribute it to that.

What I did was found a recipe for a “placenta smoothie” online. I decided to go all out, taking ? two days in a row. I can’t say that it “tasted good” or that I “enjoyed” it, but the very fact that I didn’t have any emotional or depression issues means that I will do it again this time.

I made a smoothie with bananas (strong taste), strawberries (to mask the colour), and a couple other things that I don’t remember… I basically plugged my nose, close my eyes, turned off my brain, and chugged. I’m sure I could come up with something better tasting, but the benefits were definitely worth it.

ambie719's picture
Joined: 10/03/07
Posts: 811

I would LOVE to get my placenta encapsulated but doulas aren't easy to come by in my area, and cash is a bit short so I don't think it'll be an option. I would definitely be a little squeamish about drinking in smoothies, but if you could dehydrate it and encapsulate it I think it would be a great option.

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

I'm strongly considering encapsulating my placenta myself. Hoping if I do that I can do it as soon as we get home from the hospital while my husband is still home. Beccasweet on here had someone encapsulate her placenta. She wasn't sure for the longest, but got the placenta anyways from the hospital. Her husband actually arranged it a few days after birth. A few days after taking it she called me saying that she was amazed at the difference and recommends it. She's a pharmacists and did research what little she could find about consuming the placenta which is why she wasn't sure - there's not anything saying it's harmful in the least bit but not really anything researched as to what so many moms find it helpful. But it certainly shouldn't harm you in the least bit! Decide what you're most comfortable with doing. I figure it won't do me any harm, so it's worth a try for me.

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

Back in the 1970s when my kids were born I was told by my doctor in Toronto that placentas were sold by hospitals to China for all kinds of purposes, that it would be almost impossible to get your own! Looking back, that amazes me! But it does show that many saw benefits before these present times.

AmberC727's picture
Joined: 06/05/06
Posts: 226

I had my placenta encapsulated in 2010 when my daughter was born because I had a sense I would need it, and I was right. Those pills were amazing! I only wish they would have lasted longer. I will have this placenta encapsulated as well. I have thought about doing it myself, but this will be my 3rd baby and I know that I'm not going to feel up to that task, so I'm willing to save my money and pay to have it done.

Marite13's picture
Joined: 08/07/09
Posts: 3368

"gardenbug" wrote:

Back in the 1970s when my kids were born I was told by my doctor in Toronto that placentas were sold by hospitals to China for all kinds of purposes, that it would be almost impossible to get your own! Looking back, that amazes me! But it does show that many saw benefits before these present times.

That seems really crazy!! Like, how could they claim it as theirs???

knhoward's picture
Joined: 04/22/08
Posts: 999

I still have my placenta in the freezer and I am considering hiring someone to encapsulate it. Have to talk it over with DH. It was nice reading peoples responses here.

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

Mara, I suspect you signed away all rights to everything but the baby back then!
I know my husband had to go to emergency one time (in the 1950s) because of burns and they refused to tell him what they were injecting him with. Back then doctors knew everything and you weren't allowed to ask.

MrsMangoBabe's picture
Joined: 04/09/07
Posts: 2276

I had DD2's placenta encapsulated and found it really helpful. I felt like I had higher energy levels and more emotional stability. Prelliminary data from of a study indicates that cooking and dehydrating the placenta does not destroy many beneficial compounds found in it (see http://blog.placentabenefits.info/index.php/2010/12/aaa-conference-session-paper-summaries-continued/). If there isn't anyone who professionally encapsulates placentas in your area, you can find instructions online for how to do it yourself.