Placenta Plans: Encapsulating for Faster Recovery

You're doing what with your placenta?!?!

I've been hearing this question a lot lately and wanted to share my placenta plans with my community of healthy friends.

I've decided to have my placenta encapsulated after birth. So now you're probably grossed out and gagging...and I totally understand. But let me explain! 

The human body is a magical being and I am careful to nourish it properly, especially while pregnant. In addition to growing a human, I've also grown an organ: my placenta. Did you really think I was just going to throw it out after 10 months of TLC?! Nope! 

The placenta contains a multitude of nutrients and hormones that were made in perfect balance for the body.  Therefore, these nutrients and hormones help with many physical and mental stresses a new mother encounters in the first few weeks after birth. As a doctoral candidate, I'm no stranger to research. So it should be no surprise that I researched the benefits and preparation techniques of placenta consumption carefully and here's what I found: 

Benefits of Placenta Consumption

Increased Energy
Dried human placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to alleviate fatigue and anemia (Bensky 2004; Shizhen & Xiwen 2003; Yanchi 1988), so it's no surprise that women who consume their placentas after birth report increased energy levels. In a recent study, the vast majority of mothers reported that taking placenta pills provided them with more energy in the first few weeks after giving birth (Selander, Cantor, & Benyshek, 2013). Not to mention, the placenta contains a significant amount of natural iron, which can increase energy and can be highly beneficial to physical recovery after blood loss. 

Improved Moods
After birth, hormones drop somewhat rapidly from their high pregnancy levels down to their normal, non-pregnant levels. It is believed that the natural hormones present in the placenta help a postpartum woman balance in recovery. Interestingly, Selander, Cantor & Benyshek (2013) found the most common reported benefit to placenta consupmtion was a positive effect on mood and an increased ability to manage the stresses of adjusting to motherhood (I think my husband will appreciate this benefit most of all). Plus, almost all of the women said that they would consume their placentas again after subsequent pregnancies! 

Increased Milk Supply
The placenta contains the hormone prolactin, which stimulates milk production. Bring on the milk! 

Faster Physical Recovery
Getting that uterus back to pre-pregnancy size after birth is no small feat! Luckily, the hormones oxytocin and prostaglandin are present in the placenta and help to decrease and stop bleeding and shrink the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size. 


My Preparation of Choice

After careful consideration, I have decided to go with the Traditional Chinese Method of prepartion. My placenta will be gently steamed with myrrh and ginger, dehydrated, and then ground up for encapsulation. The Traditional Chinese Method believes that the postpartum period needs "warming" energy and the steaming with myrrh and ginger will increase the warming effect of the capsules. 

My birth doula will be in charge of securing the placenta after birth and placing it in the cooler we bring to the hospital. Then we will call our encapsulation specialist and she will work her magic!

Stay tuned for more details!

Moms, did you encapsulate your placenta? I'd love to hear how you felt afterwards!