Let me start this post with five very important words: “I am not a doctor!” As a matter of fact, I am probably the farthest thing from a doctor. This post is specifically about my personal choices regarding an alternative solution to common postpartum complaints and why following the birth of my daughter, I decided to eat my placenta.
Prior to the birth of our child, my husband and I researched natural remedies to common postpartum complaints. Although there are many articles out there that frown at Placentophagy, its positive affects outweighed the negative for me.
If you’re considering encapsulating and ingesting your placenta, it’s important that you do your research. Making the best choices for you and your baby are truly the most essential elements to postpartum recovery.
What is the Placenta?
The placenta organ plays a vital role in your baby’s development. A healthy placenta absorbs nutrients, eliminates waste and gas exchange via the mother’s blood supply. It aids in fighting against internal infection; and produces hormones which support pregnancy.
Placenta contains oxytocin, a hormone that reduces pain and increases bonding with baby, it also contains thyroid stimulating hormones, interferon and prolactin, which can boost the immune system, energy, recovery and milk supply.
Placentophagy vs. Prescription drugs and Galactogogues
Placentopahyis the ingestion of a human placenta postpartum, at any time, by any person, either in raw or altered (e.g., cooked, dried, steeped in liquid) form. Eating placenta is huge in China and is becoming a trend here in the states. To me it’s a sign that people are becoming more conscious of what they’re putting in their bodies. People are realizing that prescription drugs are more about money, rather than actually fixing a problem.
I knew before my daughter was born that she would be EBF (exclusively breastfed). Which basically means from birth to around six months she will only consume my breast milk. Breastfeeding a hungry two month old is no simple task. It’s important that my milk supply withstand her growth spurts and keep her satiated. So instead of ingesting galactagogues herbs like fenugreek and fennel, I decided to eat my placenta.
Getting Your Placenta Home | Be Vocal About Your Wishes
The first step towards encapsulation is actually getting your placenta. Hospitals label placenta as a “biohazardous material,” that should be discarded immediately after birth. If this is the case how is found in make up? Somebody is taking YOUR placenta and selling it to these major companies, without your consent!
Luckily my OBGYN was pretty cool about it actually knowledgeable about the process. We communicated our wishes throughout the process and during our post-op she provided us with the information we needed to safely get our placenta home.
We were told to bring a cooler, a small ice pack and a zip-lock bag into the delivery room. As soon as our daughter was born and we were both resting comfortably, my husband took the placenta home and stored it in the freezer. It’s vital that the organ be kept frozen until you’re ready to use it. The optimal time to process a placenta is within 3-5 days.
Encapsulation and Consumption
My sweet husband did all the research and all the work. From the best capsules to purchase to the best method of consumption. I do not recommend sending your placenta to some random company to have it encapsulated. Do it yourself. If you can’t do it yourself at least provide the instructions to someone that you trust, and have them do it. You want your placenta to be treated with care, in a sanitary environment. Remember that anything you ingest, goes to your baby if you’re breastfeeding and/or pumping.
We decided to steam and dehydrate the placenta. Given that I take two pills a day, the capsule itself was important to us as well. We settled on Capsuline K-CAPS® Vegetarian Capsules. One of the few capsules we found that were made with 100% plant-derived material and purified water.
Steaming and dehydrating the Placenta | The Process
Per my husband, steaming and dehydrating my placenta was pretty easy. You’ll need gloves, 2 lemons, a couple of pieces of fresh ginger, a steamer and pot, a sharp knife, cutting board and a baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 225º degrees F
Remove placenta from the freezer and allow it to completely thaw in the fridge (as you would frozen meat).
Once thawed place placenta inside steamer pot, atop chopped lemons and fresh cut ginger.
Following the Traditional Chinese Method, the lemons are an astringent, while the ginger warms the blood helping to move things along in the blood stream. Remember that If you don’t use any of them, you are still going to get the benefits of your placenta but these things are definitely helpful.
Steam the placenta for 20 minutes. Remove from steamer and rest on parchment paper lined cutting board.
Cut Placenta into small 1/4 inch strips and place on foil lined baking sheet.
Bake on 225º (stove door ajar) for 8 hours.
Your home will smell like you are cooking a roast. My hubby did this while I was asleep, so I woke up thinking he was cooking dinner. Only realize he was cooking a part of me!
Add the dehydrated pieces to a mini chopper and pulse placenta into finely grounded powder. Following this process, rinse your mini chopper with vinegar to remove all remaining placenta from the blade.
Add placenta powder to capsules and store in a glass jar in the fridge.
I take two pills a day. One with breakfast and the other with dinner. In my opinion having a little food on your stomach helps the pill absorb.
Final Thoughts | In Progress
Due to the fact that I am still taking my placenta pills daily, I have yet to draw any hard conclusions. But I will tell you that thus far my milk production is on par with my babies growing needs, and my mood has been chill. We were able to get a 2 month supply from the placenta, so I should be able to share my full experience in a month or so.