"And then she told me she ate her placenta!"
Chances are you have friends, or friends of friends who have consumed their placenta after the birth of their babies and it may sound a bit bizarre to you. There is a little boom of placentophagy (consumption of placenta during the postpartum period) happening in our culture and we are just at the beginning of evidence based research regarding its benefits and risks. I thought I would shed a bit of light on what we DO know about this practice, and demystify placenta consumption for any curious women. Here we go..
While pregnant, you don't just grow a baby. Your body also creates a new organ called the placenta.
The placenta is an incredible organ that gives benefits lasting even after the birth of your baby and itself. Some women consume their placenta and reap wonderful benefits. There is a large and growing number of women who are partaking in this eastern practice and raving about the results. Some of the benefits of placentophagy include increased energy and breastmilk production due to the hormones the placenta carry. Because the placenta is rich in vitamins, minerals, and hormones, the blood of the momma who consumes it is also nourished, therefore reducing the risk of postpartum depression(1). Overall, placentophagy may aid in postpartum well being. Since you are already doing all you can to maintain a healthy body for yourself and your baby, this practice is worth looking into.
Momma Natural is one of my favorite natural momma bloggers. Check out her video below about her quick take on why you may want to consume your placenta.
In my opinion and personal experience, the least icky (and most common) way to ingest placenta tissue is in capsule form. A trained placenta encapsulator will clean, boil, dehydrate, grind, and fill your capsules (usually around 75-150 single capsules). Cost varies by location and provider, but it is usually no more than $300. As a plus, there is no taste or smell, and the pills can be consumed on a need basis.
The postpartum period is a delicate time of healing and bonding. Although placentophagy is not for everyone, any factor that may contribute to your birth recovery, breast milk production, and overall mental health is worth a bit of personal research and thought. Placenta Wise is a great online resource with a ton of information regarding placentophagy, its benefits, and the science behind it all, including the scientific research that has been done.
In closing, here is a peek into one of my clients' experiences, specifically with placenta encapsulation.
"At first I thought placenta encapsulation was gross. But then I did some research and talked with some close friends and decided I might as well try it. If it wasn't for me, I'd just throw them out. I ended up taking them every day for the first several weeks after having my son. Turns out, if I forgot to take them, by the afternoon I felt so sad and often would be crying. They totally supported my emotional health after having a baby. I'd recommend it to anyone!" -Natalie Nickols
Warm wishes for a happy day!
Art by Cooper Camille