There has been a lot of buzz lately about placenta encapsulation. With big name stars like January Jones, Alicia Silverstone, and even Kim Kardashian speaking out about consuming their placentas, it’s no wonder. Placentophagy, the act of eating your placenta, can be dated back to the 1500’s when the Chinese would mix dried placenta with breast milk and then drink it to cure “Ch’i exhaustion.” (Interesting side note: Ch’i exhaustion is considered a symptom of anaemia.) Eating your placenta has fallen out of style until recently. We are just starting to understand the intricacies surrounding conception through birth and beyond. We have learned that there are a myriad of benefits from consuming your placenta. Couple that with the convenience of having a specialist dry and encapsulate your placenta for you leaving you free to bask in the glow of motherhood…..who wouldn’t want to do it?
So Let’s talk about why on earth someone would want to eat their own placenta.
For starters, your placenta contains high levels of vitamins, including vitamin B6 which can help curb those baby blues. Your placenta also contains a fun little hormone called CRH (Corticotropin-releasing hormone). CRH is a known stress-reducer usually secreted by your hypothalamus. However, at the end of pregnancy your placenta is creating so much CRH that your hypothalamus stops making its own. After you birth the placenta, it takes a while for your body to get back on track and start making its own CRH again. By eating your placenta, you are reabsorbing these important vitamins and hormones your body has lost. This helps aid in the speed of recovery as well as lowering your chance of postpartum depression.
Your placenta is also rich in iron and protein which we all know can be lost during childbirth. For mothers that are vegan or vegetarian, the extra iron and protein from their placenta gives extra value. Even if you are not vegetarian, the boost of energy and faster healing time make consuming your placenta a great choice.
Back in the 50’s there was a study where 210 women expected to have low milk supply were given dried placenta. 86% of those mothers noticed an increase in milk supply. 86% !!!. Your placenta also contains hPL (Human Placental Lactogen) which is a key hormone in promoting mammary gland growth (hello breasts), and regulating your glucose, protein and fat levels.
Let’s not forget our good friend Oxytocin. That sexy little hormone that started all your contractions and brought forth your newborn. Oxytocin will stimulate your uterus and slow down your postpartum bleeding. And really, who doesn’t want that?
Whoa, you say. Sound too good to be true? As with anything, there are also risks. The biggest risk is having your placenta spoil. I always suggest treating your placenta like an expensive steak. You wouldn’t leave a $30 Fillet Mignon on the counter would you? Same goes for your placenta. Keep your placenta covered and in the refrigerator or on ice until your encapsulation specialist can get it. I always pick up placentas within 8 hours of delivery to decrease the chance of infection or spoilage.
Ok, now we have down the basics of WHY it’s good for you. Your next question may be “but do I have to eat it RAW?!?”
That is where I come in. It’s true that the best and fastest way to reap the benefits of your placenta is to ingest it raw immediately after birth, however, many moms find that hard to do. Encapsulation still offers incredible amounts of beneficial nutrients. Here at Lancaster Doulas we practice both raw and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) encapsulation techniques. Both of these methods are done with care to preserve all that your placenta has to offer. Neither technique is shown to be superior.
Because your placenta is unique to YOU, there is no rigid guide on how many/ how often to take your placenta capsules. I often suggest taking 2-3 two or three times a day to start and noting how you feel. If you wake up and feel like you are having a rough day, take more that day. If you wake up feeling great, then take less.
Did you consume your placenta? Do you wish that you had? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
Offering Placenta Encapsulation, Tinctures, and Placenta Prints to Adams, Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Schuykill and York Counties.