The 101 on Consuming Your Placenta

Consuming Your PlacentaWait, wait. Don’t go running for the hills just yet. I promise it really isn’t as gross or taboo as it seems. Placenta encapsulation is something I never considered doing before until this pregnancy. Maybe I’m getting a little more ‘crunchy’PIN IT! as each baby comes along but there seem to be so many benefits with consuming your placenta the more I look into it. With the help of a fellow doula and blogger Courtney, I decided to research more about the topic to make a decision on my choice.

Placenta History

Many and almost all continents around the world view the placenta as ‘a spiritual force of life’, to be treated with the utmost respect and care. Nearly all cultures participate in some sort of ceremony in regards to the placenta. Take Asia for example, Asians view the placenta as a twin or guardian for the child throughout his or her’s life and its buried by the father.

Korea burns the placenta and is given to an ill child in an attempt to heal.

Afterbirth is considered sacred even in North America to the Navajo Indians and in Hawaii. From being buried with an object to symbolize a future occupation to being buried with a tree to maintain their ‘roots’.

It was Li Shizhen who first wrote about the afterbirth or placenta as a remedy that dates clear back to the 1500’s and being published in Traditional Chinese Medicine- Materia Medica. Zi-he-chi (placenta) in Chinese translates literally to ‘Purple Liver Vehicle’. Shizhen noted placenta abilities to tonify the lungs, liver, increase milk supply, treat infertility- the list goes on.

Placenta Encapsulation

consuming your placentaPIN IT!Encapsulating the placenta is done by either steaming followed by dehydrating or simply dehydrating the raw placenta and then grounding it down into a powder. The powder is then put into capsules for consumption.

There are different opinions on how the placenta should be prepared and it really comes down to a matter of opinion. Some claim that steaming the placenta allows for any bacteria to be killed while allowing the placenta to keep nutrients viable. Others believe dehydrating the placenta in its raw state is said to keep its benefits more pure and potent.

I’ve personally read a couple different articles on each matter and I’m leaning toward the “raw” method of no steaming and straight to dehydration. Though a specialist could help me change my mind when it comes down to it. I just want to make sure I’m getting the most nutrients I can to reap the benefits. By the way, to find a certified placenta encapsulation specialist in your area, check out find placenta encapsulation.

Courtney personally took to the steamed, dehydrated and encapsulated method. It took no longer than an evening of her time. She did it, she encapsulated her own placenta! This is not something I would be able to do because one, I think it would gross me out, and two, I will be in the hospital for 3-4 days postpartum. However, you can follow her step by step instructions on how to encapsulate your placenta here.

Other Ways of Consuming Your Placenta

consuming your placenta chocolatesPIN IT!Ingesting it Raw

Of course, the most obvious way of consuming the placenta is in its raw form. Nearly every mammal eats its placenta. Though this is a lesser chosen way of ingesting it, it is thought to be very beneficial. Many women have consumed their raw placenta, after being thoroughly washed of course. This is personally something I would never be able to do.

Tinctures

A tincture is essentially an extract, think vanilla extract for baking. It’s made by extracting or dissolving the nutrients in alcohol. This is a method that can go a long way. A tincture can be used for years to come. Some common way to use tinctures is in a liquid (drink, soup, smoothie, etc) or even on a wound. The tincture is said to be very beneficial for treating menopause and PMS symptoms. Adding on a tincture to my placenta encapsulation is definitely something I am open to.

Edibles

Placenta edibles are simply foods like chocolate truffles or smoothies. This preparation is more common today as it seems to take away the fact that you’re ‘eating your placenta’- though it’s really not that bad. Most specialists offer this option while preparing your placenta into whatever form you wish to consume it in. Funny enough, earlier today a mom blew up on snapchat while she was snapping herself making her placenta into chocolates.

Whichever method you decide, it’s best that the placenta is ingested within or day 3 postpartum. This is when the surge of hormones hit and your milk begins to come in.

The Benefits

Some of the most common benefits of consuming your placenta include:

Restoration of iron – during childbirth and after our bodies lose a large amount of blood. Consuming the placenta aids in lowered iron levels. Low iron levels have been linked to fatigue, irritability and postpartum depression.

Oxytocin release – This is an essential hormone aids in pain relief and bonding with our babies. It counteracts the production of stress hormones and greatly reduces postpartum bleeding.

Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone – Regulation of CRH helps prevent depression.

Prostaglandins – causes contractions in our uterus and helps the uterus to return to its normal size after delivery.

Prolactin – Promotes lactation and increases your milk supply.

PIN IT!A Doula’s Experience

“I first discovered placenta encapsulation when I found out we were expecting our second child. After the birth of my first born, I was left in a deep, dark and scary depression. I found myself having trouble getting out of bed for weeks on end. With the help of my husband, I was able to put a routine to my new mommy life and eventually crawl out of my depression. It was within my endless searching for ways to pull myself out, that I came across placenta encapsulation. Over the counter prescriptions and medicines are something I stay away from so when I came across this ‘natural remedy’ I was intrigued.

I decided that the after the birth of our next baby, encapsulating my placenta was something I definitely wanted to try. I had my hospital bag packed my birth plan in order and my nurses on standby to keep my placenta after my delivery. It was merely a form I had to sign and that baby was mine. Well, the baby and the placenta.

No kidding, within 2 days it was like the floodgates opened and my milk was IN. This was my second baby that I breastfed so it was something I was familiar with but never with such ease.

Other than my milk coming in with such ease, it wasn’t like any major signs stood out that this was really working. It wasn’t until about two weeks in that I realized that I wasn’t a complete and total hormonal wreck. I slept, I ate, I didn’t stress the little things I had no control over. I now had two babies and I was totally handling it- like a boss.

The fear of my placenta wearing off was always there. Was it too good to be true? How much longer will it last? Then the 3-month postpartum mark hit, which is when I found myself drowning in depression with my first born and yet, I was still fine this time around. Being a mother of two tiny babies, by myself and home alone with them during the day was doable. My hormones felt, for once- stable.

Around three months with my first born, my hair started falling out in handfuls. I’m talking about scary hair loss. This time around post-placenta, the most hair I had fall out was a few strands when I brushed it.

It really did work!

Placenta encapsulation was without a doubt an absolute lifesaver for me. So much so that I went on to become certified in placenta encapsulation so that I could help other mother’s struggling with whatever postpartum issues they may be having.

We are now four kids deep (3 that I delivered) and I now find my husband making sure that encapsulation is always on my to-do list.”

Though I’m still deciding on which specialist I want to use, I have officially adding placenta encapsulation to my birth plan this go around!

Have you ever consumed your placenta? Will you in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

consuming your placentaPIN IT!

Comments
  • Stacie

    I have never seen anything like this before. It makes sense, though. I think pretty much every species in the animal kingdom eats their placenta after giving birth.

  • Colleen

    I love this post. I’ve heard of this, and I have to admit, my initial reaction was, “Oh my God, that’s disgusting.” The health benefits of the placenta and the ways in which it can be processed for consumption these days make me wish this had been around when I gave birth.

  • Gisele

    I know animals eat the placenta after the babies are born. I’ve never had a child so I’m not familiar with the whole birth process. I can’t imagine consuming the placenta but I’m sure the benefits would be worth it.

  • Audrey

    I’ve heard of this, and it makes sense from a health benefits standpoint. I love how you broke it down to history from various countries and a lot of research. When I was a kid, our mama cat gave birth to kittens, then ate the placenta. I thought it was gross! But, my mom explained to me that it’s important for mama cat’s milk production for her babies.

  • Amber Myers

    I’ve heard about people doing this! I’m not sure if I ever would or not. The thought sort of makes me want to gag even though it is in a capsule. I never struggled much after giving birth though.

  • Joely Smith

    Well, all I can say is if animals do it – and THEY DO then it has to be good for you and the baby. I know many would think I am crazy but honestly, animals are smart, instinctual creatures. Then again, one time a mama cat of ours also ate one of her kittens that was born stillbirth so maybe I am now arguing against my first statement as we would never do THAT as a society. Hummm anyway – I am all for natural remedies AND science. Whatever works! A lot of any medicine – be that science or nature – is mind over matter so if it works for you, more power to ya! If I were of child-rearing age I would totally investigate this deeper for myself!

  • Heather

    I’ve heard of it, know a friend who did it…I just don’t think I could or would. I guess it would have to become more mainstream for me to consider it. I’m always the last one to the party anyway. 😉 If you believe it has given you health benefits then I think its great.

  • MaLee @ This Blue Dress

    I have seen this before in child development classes and even understand the concept behind it. I just have a hard time imaging myself being able to do it, even with the pills.

  • Jennifer Van Huss

    Not something I think I could do, but it does make a lot of sense. Its just the image and the way I was raised that I don’t think I could. On that note, I don’t look down on anyone who would do it. To each their own and if it works for you, GREAT!

  • Dee Jackson

    This was a very interesting read. A bit of it I couldn’t imagine doing myself but it was definitely an eye opener

  • Stephanie Pass

    I’ve heard about this but never tried it myself as I always had c-sections and was in the hospital for 4-5 days. This past birth, my placenta almost killed me, literally, so I’d prefer to punch it in the face, lol. They weren’t able to remove it safely without me bleeding to death, so they had to give me a hysterectomy during my daughter’s birth so I could have my best chance at not hemorrhaging. It was bad, but thankfully we both lived.

  • Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place

    I have never given this much thought. I think it’s good that people are paying attention to its benefits. I just didn’t know that there are plenty of way to consume it! It was great learning more about this topic.

  • Jessica Taylor

    A friend of mine actually did this after her first child and I thought it was the weirdest thing ever. Now I know more about it and think its pretty cool! Education is key!

  • Terri Steffes

    I’m not sure about this but I know you are right about other mammals. I would think the easiest way would be to encapsulate a dehydrated one.

  • Up Run for Life Healthy Lifestyle Blog

    Consuming my placenta isn’t for me. I didn’t hear about this process until I started blogging after my youngest was a little over a year. I suffered from postpartum depression and I would have to ask the dr for medication after giving birth to stabilize my moods. Getting enough sleep helps with the depression.

  • Angela Milnes

    This is such a fast growing idea. It makes perfect sense, and I think people need to go for it!

  • Marissa Zurfluh

    I don’t know if I could do it. I get it, and think it’s great, but not for me.

  • Laura Dove

    I never did this but I heard so many good things about it! I thought I would find it weird but its just a capsule, we take them every day!

  • Le

    I don’t have children so I am aloof from this idea. You can’t replenish your body with supplements?

  • Alison Rost

    I’ve heard so much about consuming the placenta lately but I never thought it would be this extensive. I think the capsules is a great way to store and consume it. But these other ways are great too.

  • David Allen Elliott

    I remember we thought about doing that when my daughter was born. But we didn’t end up doing it. I know lots of people do it and it has a lot of health benefits. i just didn’t realize you could do it with edibles like chocolate. I think that would be a much better way to ingest it.

  • What Corinne Did

    this is a very interesting post. i have heard of consuming your placenta but i am very unfamiliar with the topic! I am not sure that’s something i could do but i think that’s great your placenta does not go waste after child birth!

  • Angela

    I never had the opportunity to do this with either on my children. In hindsight I think I would have . My doctor didn’t really even discuss it as an Option but there are so many benefits obviously that I wish I would have been able to

  • Hannah Marie

    This is the first time I’ve heard of this. I am single and do not have a baby so I am not sure what my decision will be in the future. The benefits are promising though.

  • Kiwi

    I pinned this for future references. I think this a subject moms should speak more of in a holistic way and healing.

  • Annreeba Joy

    Its very interesting! I have never heard of this before. I pinned this for future references.

  • Deboshree Dutta

    Wow this is so intriguing! I am not a mother but would think about this when it comes to it

  • Ruth I.

    There are great benefits it offers. I am not sure if I will ever like this idea though.

  • lex

    Have read and heard of this before but your post makes it more clear and meaningful to me for the reasons for it all. Its beneficial at the end of it all.

  • lex

    Have read and heard of this before but your post makes it more clear and meaningful to me for the reasons for it all. Its beneficial at the end of it all. Thanks for the share.