I want to share an an article I wrote and that was published in the Spring issue of Birthing Magazine. If you don’t have a hard copy at home to read, please enjoy this digital version!
Expecting parents plan so much for their new baby. They make sure to have clothes, diapers, a car seat, and maybe even a thoughtfully designed baby nursery. They go to childbirth classes and make a plan for how they want their little bundle of joy to arrive earthside, and take part in a baby shower or a mother blessing in preparation for the journey. However, there is one aspect of childbirth and parenting that often gets overlooked during preparations. Even though most new parents are aware that baby blues and postpartum depression (PPD) is a reality, with roughly 80 percent of new mothers experiencing either in some variation, there is rarely enough attention given to preventative measures. I’d like to share with you some information on an alternative health practice that can aid in postpartum recovery and specifically with baby blues and/or PPD prevention, placenta ingestion via encapsulation.
Still here? Great. Placenta ingestion is nothing new, although it certainly has become more mainstream in the western world over the past decade. A simple Google search turns up many articles about various celebrities that have chosen placenta ingestion as a means to replenish their postpartum body and mind. The human placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) arguably since the 1500s. In conjunction with other herbs, the placenta was said to be an excellent tonic that was (and still is) used in TCM to treat syndromes of insufficiency of Yin, Yang, Qi and blood. Most placenta encapsulators follow the TCM method of placenta preparation here in Calgary, although there is a raw method of preparation available as well if required.
The placenta, in all of its glory, is home to many beneficial ingredients. It is chock full of amino acids, fibre, minerals and hormones, all of which are depleted after childbirth. Replenishing your body with the valuable hormones and nutrients that were made by you, specially for you, can have numerous benefits. And because all of the natural nutrients and hormones were made by your own body, they are far easier for your body to absorb and process. Some of the benefits to placenta ingestion may include:
• Increase in energy
• Increase in milk production
• Decrease in fatigue
• Decreased likelihood of baby blues and postpartum depression
• Replenishes depleted iron
• Lessens postnatal bleeding
• Helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size
• Can be kept and used for future stressful events like moving or menopause.
As someone who has been in the deep, murky waters of PPD, I can tell you that it is worth preparing. Even if you end up not experiencing PPD, having the tools to deal with it is invaluable. Recognizing the symptoms and taking action early is key for treatment and prevention. If you don’t need to use the tools for your own mental health, you may be able to help another new mom who finds herself constantly sinking in the bottomless lake of PPD.
I realize that placenta ingestion is not for everyone, and that is okay, but everyone should know that it is an option. It is an option that has been studied and has scientific research to back it up, along with a plethora of anecdotal evidence. You don’t need to look too far to find someone who has experienced the benefits of placenta encapsulation. I love hearing feedback from my clients about how their pills have helped them heal. One client told me that she felt even better than she had prior to becoming pregnant with her first child several years prior. She had been battling depression ever since her first birth and was amazed at how different she felt following the birth of her second baby. I love hearing stories like that.
Along with placenta encapsulation, many placenta encapsulators will provide other services to complement the pills. Some examples include a placenta tincture, keepsake umbilical cord, broth, salve, and “Tree of Life” placenta prints. All of these items are created with love, positive energy, and knowledge, along with the highest respect towards the life-giving organ. It’s hard not to respect the amazing organ that kept your baby nourished while they were in womb, and that can keep nourishing you after birth.
If you have decided to encapsulate your placenta, I recommend finding an encapsulator who has done extensive research and training, and asking as many questions as you need to. Your encapsulator will educate you on how to store your placenta, the process that your placenta will undergo, how many pills you can expect to receive, the recommended dosage, and how long the process will take. If you want to see research, she’ll likely be able to provide that for you as well, although I warn you, the studies are somewhat of boring academic reads.
I hope that your postpartum experience is positive, healthy and full of love. I hope you remember to take care of yourself in those vulnerable postpartum weeks and months, and ask for help if and when you need it. I hope you are easy on yourself, and know that you are not alone in this journey. And lastly, I hope you know all of your options and pack your postpartum tool box full of tools to keep your body and mind nourished.