Daddypotamus reached for my hand just as I reached for his. We both exhaled in the quietness that enveloped us – a winding country road under a starlit sky, two sleeping kids in the back, hearts and bellies full. It’s as good a time as any, right?
“I think I’m going to eat my placenta.”
He didn’t jerk his hand away. Good sign.
“It’s just, you know, remember what I was like after they were born?”
What flashed through his mind I cannot say for sure, but it might have been the time I left the car running in the driveway while I napped with our baby girl, or the time I dumped a pile of laundry on the couch only to realize I’d washed everything with tags and hangers still on, or the time I served olives for dinner. Just olives.
Y’all, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve had two amazing, empowering births – you can read about them here and here – but my postpartum experiences have been a little, well, rough.
Though there were extenuating circumstances* and I do expect this time to be different, the truth is I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for 6+ years now. I make meals from scratch, write here on the blog, homeschool and do laundry.
Oh, and Daddypotamus and I just took on the responsibility of a 40 acre farm even though we’re city kids and have no clue what we’re doing. So there’s that.
Life is full. So many of my dreams have come true that there aren’t enough waking hours in the day to enjoy them all. And while you won’t find me complaining about that, it’s not hard to imagine how this . . .
Might once again lead to this . . .
And then quickly disintegrate into this . . .
Which is why I have a plan.
Step One: Turn in my spandex.
I laughed as hard as just about anyone when I first saw this:
I’m not going to try to be Wonder Woman after birthing this baby. The Western cultural obsession with bouncing back right after pregnancy is both impractical and self defeating. I will choose to take things slow, not ask too much of myself, and accept help when offered. (Wondering what mamas actually need after the baby arrives? Here are 18 ideas.)
But even with all that, I worry that sheer exhaustion will turn me into Tired Zombie Mama. My family doesn’t deserve that, which leads me to . . .
Step Two: Get over the “ewwww” factor…
And do the placenta pill thing. Why? Well, mostly because of you. When I asked about your experiences, the sheer number of enthusiastic responses I received made me want to learn more about the traditions and research that uphold this practice. Turns out, there’s quite a bit there.
4 Benefits Of Placenta Encapsulation
1. Hormone Support – The placenta contains oxytocin (helps with pain and increases emotional bonding with baby), thyroid stimulating hormone (boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events), interferon (stimulates the immune system to protect against infections), prolactin (helps with lactation, more on that later), and several other components believed to promote healing and recovery.
2. Milk Supply – “Powdered Placenta Hominis was used for 57 cases of insufficient lactation. Within 4 days, 48 women had markedly increased milk production, with the remainder following suit over the next three days.” Bensky/Gamble. 1997. Materia Medica, Eastland Press, 549.
3. Help With Postpartum Recovery – “For thousands of years, the Chinese have upheld the value of the placenta for the postpartum recovery process. After birth, the majority of new mothers experience blood loss, fatigue, and a crazy influx of pregnancy hormones. 80% of women experience some level of postpartum blues or depression. Full of life energy, the placenta aids in postpartum wellness by replenishing your system with natural iron & protein and helps reintroduce . . . essential hormones back into your system.” (source: The Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation, no longer available) Other cultures which are known to consume placenta during the postpartum period are the Vietnamese, Hungarians and Italians.
According to this Chinese Herbal Reference guide, “Giving…placenta to a new mother following birth has become standard protocol among a growing number of midwives in the United States. By nourishing the blood and fluids, endocrine glands and organs, Placenta will …reduce or stop postpartum bleeding, speed up recovery, boost energy and relieve postpartum blues.”
4. Energy & Emotional Support – It is believed that consuming the placenta can increase energy levels, reduce post-natal bleeding, help the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state and reduce postpartum depression. (source)
Though some people have reported that they didn’t experience any noticeable benefits, and a few have even reported that they had an adverse reaction (though it may have been due to certain herbs mixed with the placenta rather than the actual placenta), the overwhelming majority of people I have spoken with say it was very beneficial for them. I cannot say what my experience will be yet, but I think it’s worth a try!
Methods of Placenta Encapsulation
There are two main methods, which are both described here.
If you’re not up for encapsulating your own placenta – to be perfectly honest, I’m not – there are many professional services who will do it for you. If you have a doula or midwife they will probably be able to recommend someone. Also, here are a few resources I found in this list:
Planning a hospital birth? PlacentaBenefits.Info will email you tips for getting your placenta released.
Is Placenta Consumption Wrong?
When I asked “yay” or “nay” on this subject here, the few “nay” responses seemed mostly to be related to a sense of moral, philosophical or spiritual conflict with the practice. After researching it thoroughly I found that I did not personally see any conflict, but for those who may wish to look into this further this starting point may be helpful.
Here’s an interesting article on why common theories about why animals eat their placenta (which due to their nature would imply we wouldn’t need to) don’t necessarily stack up.
I also found the discussion of milk consumption on this post to offer some perspective on the ick factor.
**3 Month Update**
Sweet Levi was born three months ago – here’s my birth film if you missed it, and here’s his story: A Frog, A Polar Bear And A Bullseye On My Bottom
Now it’s to report back to tell you how it went! Long story short, this has been the best babymoon I’ve ever had. There are three factors that I believe have made it such a good experience:
1. We had his tongue tie corrected when he was a couple of weeks old. After the procedure he no longer had issues with gassiness and was able to fill his belly better and sleep better. (Here’s how to diagnose tongue and lip ties at home. If your baby seems to have reflux or colic it’s worth looking into.)
2. I finally found a wrap I love. I had a similar wrap (different brand) with Micah and neither of us liked it. The fabric on this one is stretchier and more breathable, which makes us both a lot more comfortable. It’s hard to overstate the power of a good wrap to make life with a newborn easier.
3. Consuming my placenta. I started out with a few raw pieces in a strawberry, raw milk and maple syrup smoothie right after birth and continued for the first week. WOW. With Katie I woke up soaked in sweat several nights in a row after giving birth. I don’t remember what it was like with Micah (I was too tired!), but I can say that this time around I had no night sweats at all and no teary moments.
I started taking the placenta pills around 1 week postpartum. In the past I had a “high” right after birth and then somewhere along the line I’d hit a wall of exhaustion that had me doing all kinds of crazy things. Not this time. It only got better.
For me, the raw smoothies had a much more noticeable benefit than the pills, but I do think the pills did some good. These days I’m not taking them because I don’t feel the need, but if I have another baby I will definitely do this again!
Could you? Would you? Did you?
What are your thoughts/experiences regarding placenta encapsulation?
* A note on our extenuating circumstances. My son was born tongue-tied, which meant he was still waking every TWO hours to nurse at 8 months old. (Frequent nursing took the place of efficient nursing. He was growing and healthy, but had to work very hard and often to get enough milk) No sleep for 8 months = zombie mama. My life changed when we had it corrected and he started sleeping looooong stretches, unlike his older sister at that age. She’d been a frequent nurser/difficult sleeper due to a lip tie as well, we just didn’t realize it back then.
Photo Credit: Herb Mother
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I absolutely did it with my first and only baby so far and will absolutely do it again!! I found it helped so so much. It was a huge blessing. The woman who did it for me also gave me some in broth form with some intense spices which was great to add to soups. She also gave me a tincture which lasts a long time. You can use it when the placenta pills are gone in times of emotional stress etc as well as give it to your baby for separation anxiety, adjustment periods or anything else you might need it for like teething! It’s fantastic. Thank you mommypotamus for sharing this valuable information and encouraging more mothers to do it to reap the many benefits for themselves and their babies!
I birthed my 5th child in July and my mother and sister came to help encapsulate the placenta. I was the most stable in the 6 weeks following my birth that I had ever been! I’m a believer!
My baby is due the 20th of October. I have been researching and debating the placenta thing for a while. I have finally decided to do it. I admit it kind of sicks me out but the benefits seem so great. So hear goes!
I considered this with my third baby but opted out, too. I’m currently pregnant with our fourth (and last!) baby and this time I thinking may go for the plunge! It’s weird in our culture, but I think the benefits may really be worth it!
I’m no mom but to me this makes a lot of sense. Other mammals eat their’s. I can’t see where it would ever be a bad thing to do as long as it was a healthy birth.
I do have to say there was a book in the 80’s of skits from Saturday Night Live that didn’t make it to the show. They had two pregnant women in a grocery store and they stop to talk to each other. Finally one asks, “Are you going to eat it?”
“You know how meat prices are high now days?”
Eye roll “You’re telling me!”
“Then make that placenta go further” picks up box off shelf “with Placenta Helper!”
Gee I wonder why it didn’t air? I thought it was hilarious in that sick twisted Saturday Night way.
Amanda Freerksen (@thecheeselife)
Amanda Freerksen (@thecheeselife)
hi! I had a doula encapsulate my placenta and prepare a placenta tincture after my son was born. I started taking them the day after he was born, and they lasted me a couple of weeks. Since he is my first and only child so far, I have no other postpartum experiences to compare it to, but I can say that I did not experience any severe bouts of baby blues. I had occasional mornings of OMG-I’m-a-mom and when-am-I-ever-going-to-sleep-again moments, but that’s it. I have had good milk supply, too. My son has had both a lip tie and a tongue tie corrected and at 9 months he still nurses every 2 hours through the night. However, I don’t feel like a zombie. Exhausted when I first wake up? Yes. Need a nurse-nap in the afternoon? Yes. But maybe having all the goodies from the placenta back in my body set me up for this journey… idk. Best wishes to you!
For a great article on cultural references to the disposal of the placenta in human cultures, this is pretty good read: http://www.lucina.ca/plresearch/In%20search%20of%20human%20placentophagy%202010.pdf
But from what I am seeing, it is mostly family members who would actually consume a placenta, not the mother themselves. Or that medicine people would give placenta to others for ailments. But it is interesting that more and more women are doing this and seem to be seeing results. Maybe the older cultures didn’t scientifically know that consumption by the mother may be of a health benefit to the new mother themselves.
I did it with my second but not my first and I TOTALLY felt a difference. More energy, balanced hormones, more milk… such a better experience 🙂
Kat – I am pregnant with my second and didn’t do it with my first (didn’t know anything about it.) How did you go about encapsulating it? Whom did you contact? I am delivering in a hospital and just don’t know how to go about getting this done. It’s not exactly mainstream.
I just did it this summer with my third baby. It was hard to drink the broth, but I didn’t have any problem taking the capsules. I still laugh thinking about my sweet husband going to the nurses desk and asking for the placenta 🙂 I definitely think it helped. My bleeding slowed quickly, although still lasted 4.5 weeks off and on, not quite as short as I was hoping for, but shorter than the 6 weeks I’d experienced with my other two kids. The biggest benefit I saw was my emotional state. Every time I’d start acting a little on edge, my husband would gently say, “did you take your placenta pills today?” and sure enough, I hadn’t. Later he told me that he would recommend it to other couples because in his mind it’s better to be married to a cannibal than to a crazy person 😉
The only question I had was whether or not the antibiotics I had in labor made it into the placenta. I had only had the IV for about an hour before the placenta was delivered, so I decided to go ahead and do it. I’ll do it again for sure.
Dawn | KitchenTravels
Hello – I am new to your site and enjoying it so far. To be honest, I never heard anything about this practice when my kids (a boy – 12, and identical twin girls – 8) were born. I wish I had, especially with my twins. I had such a difficult time after my twins were born, emotionally and with breast feeding. It would have been nice to have the kind of benefits you describe. Best of luck to you, and thanks for sharing. Maybe your post will help other moms-to-be! 🙂
I did with #3 two months ago (after not doing it with #1 and #2). I don’t know what to say about my experience really, though, because my daughter was stillborn at term and so I had so many other mental/emotional things going on at the same time, it was not a fair comparison. The grief got in the way of so much of my mental perception and even some of how I felt physically. However, I do think I had a good physical healing process as far as my body was concerned. And who knows, maybe I would have been worse off mentally if I had not taken them? Anyways, I took them for 6 weeks on a tapering off schedule and my midwife’s assistant encapsulated my placenta for me. I can say, though, that I will take again whenever we have our next baby. I think placenta encapsulation and consumption is a fantastic practice. Yes, there isn’t a ton of research out there on it, but there are pretty much only positive things reported and it makes total sense to me. Good luck – I think your plan is a good one!
Briana- I am so terribly sorry for your loss.
My daughter went thru the hell of a stillborn son. It was her first and she now has two more children, one a newborn son. I am thinking of you. I can still see my.daughter holdingo her son and feel the.pain. I’m am praying that you slowly but surely heal.
I don’t judge people who decide to do or not do anything. I think the only way I could do it is if someone told me to take this pill and don’t ask any questions. Whenever I see a spider, I try not to scream, show my husband, leave the room/house and we never speak of it again. It would have to be something like that.
I did it and would do it again as well. My midwife handled it for me. Not only did I take it, I gave it to my baby (in a little breast milk) why she was not well.
I encapsulated mine and took it and felt like it was extremely beneficial: limited pp bleeding, great energy and mood, and my milk came in so smoothly and with ample enough supply to donate.
However, I hear from people that it has been proven to just be a placebo effect, and also that it is harmful because it is a filter organ, like the liver (which people also see as harmful to consume, mistakenly believing that it holds onto the bad stuff rather than filtering it out). What good resources or info do you have on the matter? I’d love to hear your input! I only have anecdotal evidence – I find it hard to placebo one’s way through the post-partum period, though, which is answer enough for me! lol
I hemorrhaged with my first and my midwife told me afterward she had been about ready to chop up my placenta right then and there and feed it to me to help the bleeding stop! I would definitely try the pills. Hope they help you!
I did with my first and only. Personally, I was not that weirded out by it; I had read a lot that seemed to support the practice, and I knew two people firsthand who got theirs encapsulated and swore by it. One of them, a good friend, was dealing with some pretty intense emotional issues until she started taking her placenta pills. The other was my sister; she did have PPD, but believes that it would have been much worse without the placenta pills, and also feels that they contributed to her success in nursing. So when my midwife asked if I was interested, I said yes! Having no other postpartum periods to compare my experience to, I cannot say definitively that they helped, but I had no problems with PPD whatsoever and was able to breastfeed very successfully! I’m excited to hear what your experiences are like.
I did not hear of this until after the birth of our 3rd child (8 years after #2). September 9th birth and started homeschooling the week after because I did not want to feel behind with having a baby and a move in the spring. I WAS A MESS. I cannot express how much I regret doing too much too soon. Maybe this would have helped me be a bit (or way more) level headed with far fewer tears. I would have a teary meltdown every day for several weeks. Please don’t jump back in too fast. (Not that you need me to tell you what to do!) I pray that all goes well for you and your family.
I am so glad I did this with my first! I had a four day labor but an easy postpartum recovery. We’re starting to think about another baby, and I will definitely want to consume my placenta again. I hope it will be good medicine for you, too.
Jess @ Crunchy Hot Mama
Go for it, mama!
I just had baby girl at home on Saturday (hooray for a VBAC!) and did get my placenta encapsulated. I thought there would be a moment of needing to consume it raw since I was bleeding a lot, but didn’t have to in the end. I got my pills back the next day and am still waiting on my tinctures. I figure it couldn’t hurt to consume…especially since animals are smart enough to do it 😉 I think once people can get past the ew factor, they might realize it’s good for you and could help on so many levels!
Michelle @ Find Your Balance
Hooray for VBAC!!
I had my only child 18 years ago and chose only to have one baby because I simply couldn’t get through another 3 months of postpartum again. I didn’t get slammed into depression, but the lack of sleep and crazy hormones made me weak, weepy and a little blue. I was desperate for someone to help me, and I was pissed because all of my friends who had had babies before me, never told me about the first few horrid months. The initial shock and adjustment combined with the hormones sealed the fate that I would never have another baby. I just wasn’t strong enough.
I feel certain, after reading about taking placenta, that it would have helped me immensely. Had I known about this miraculous practice 18 years ago, it may have given me all I needed to get through that difficult time and possibly made me eager to have another child. My daughter, who dreams of being a mother some day herself, has already read into the placenta practice and fully believes it is what she will do, and I will support her whole-heartedly…while also babysitting for her so she can get some sleep!! 🙂
I have ingested placenta with all 4 of my babies. The first two were encapsulation, the second two were encapsulation and “placenta soup”. Might sound gross but was delicious cooked up with beef bone broth, veggies & ginger, then strained into a broth. It literally was a night and day difference between simply encapsulating, though I found many benefits with that, too. I recommend both..and you might be surprised how your body craves the broth like mine did, it’s amazing how my body knew what it needed. Good luck!
I did it with our third child because I hemorrhaged with my second and I was really weak after that. I did take them for a time after my third was born, but it made my post partum craps HORRIBLE. would stop taking them just to see if the cramps would get better and they did. Then, I would take them again and the cramps would come back strong. I told my midwife and she was a little bit shocked as she had not had anyone experience that before. Needless to say, I didn’t do that with my fourth, but I still have the bottle (half-full) in my freezer. Supposedly, they could help my third later on if she ever got sick.
I interviewed Jodi of Placenta Benefits for my podcast and got some nasty comments about cannibalism… so I’m glad you’re addressing this. It’s ridiculous really, nothing cannibalistic about an organ that will be disposed of anyway after it’s not needed.. it’s literally the ONLY organ that the human body creates to be disposable eventually.
My religious objection is the BLOOD in the placenta, but I found out that part of proper preparation is thoroughly bleeding the placenta before ingesting.
I was fortunate to have awesome postpartum experiences… it’s the pregnancies that nearly kill me (awesome healthy pregnancies but killer nausea/vomiting).
Great post! You have such a fun writing style.
When we were pregnant with our first baby, we knew we wanted to eat our placenta. I had shared a couple articles on the topic on Facebook, and got walloped with a TON of flack for it! So my husband decided to answer everyone’s questions in a blog post. I’ve linked to it here if you’re interested!
I didn’t do it, and honestly wish that I had. I almost sort of considered it this last time (my third), but eventually dismissed the idea simply because – EW. This has been my most difficult recovery so far and I’m betting it would have helped if I had just gotten over the ick factor and done it anyway!
My son is 6 months old and I have had issues with leaving him (probably postpartum related) and I have EXTREME lactation difficulties. I was wondering if it is too late to get his placenta (still in the freezer) encapsulated? Should I wait for baby 2?
That’s awesome Heather! I’m sure you will benefit greatly. I had my first a year ago and did it (having it pills helped me get over the “ick factor”), and I felt quite good (of course, I didn’t have a previous one to compare it to). I had some emotional days due to trouble nursing at first (also a tongue tie) but no real depression or feeling really overwhelmed. My friend just did it for the first time with her 4th and has noticed a HUGE difference in her mood and thoughts. My sister-in-law is planning to do it next month also. 🙂
Checking this from work, can’t access the “no it’s NOT cannabalism” link (State blocked the site) but w/o reading that article, I disagree. It is A HUMAN ORGAN. Eating a HUMAN ORGAN is, in fact, cannabalism…just like if you ate a heart, or liver, and it is wrong regardless of the benefits. It does not matter that the blood is drained, it does not matter that the Chinese have been doing it for ages – if you follow a Christian philosophy, you have no business eating a human organ, regardless of the fact that it is created JUST for a specific time to nourish a baby in utero.
I have a ton of respect for you and your blog and the info you put out. I have learned a LOT. I’ll read that article when I get home…but like I said, w/o reading it, I can make the above points from a solid foundation.
Just…yuck. Yuck, and wrong. We may be mammals but we are HUMAN BEINGS, created in the image of God. We are not animals that need to dispose of their placenta by consumption out of fear of predators.
Michelle @ Find Your Balance
Yuck, perhaps. But…wrong? Who gets to determine that?
Check out this link from Tessa’s reply from Oct 2 – that has a good discussion on the Christian moral issues involved.
Lisah, as far as I know, this practice isn’t mentioned in the Bible, for or against. And it doesn’t involve killing someone, but is instead using something that will otherwise be disposed of. And it is beneficial in many ways, and not harmful. So, I’m thinking it is up to the mom, and her husband, if she wants to do this.
With baby #1 I was a MESS. Then in the midst we moved 600 miles to no where to build our house. That placenta has done a great job feeding our peach trees. Baby #2… well that `placenta sat in the freezer for 14 mo before I got around to dehydrating it. I did the raw method since it was so old. It was amazing. I slept better and had more energy. My cycle was lighter too. Now with baby three coming I will be eating a piece asap to help with the bleeding and get the milk flowing. I hope you have an awesome third delivery!
If I had another opportunity, I would absolutely do the same thing! I love your passion Heather and your strong advocacy for the well-being of your family. Most people have become so complacent with their health and just trusting what they are told. I feel things are definitely changing and I thank you for being one of those to lead the way. This reminds me of James & Laurentine’s story from Foodmatters….have you read that article? See link below…it’s beautiful!
Blessings to you and your family!
Just wanted to encourage you and affirm your post! 🙂 In this selfish world it is brave to even have children, and it’s also brave to say that we as women can’t “do it all.” Thank you for your transparency – it encouraged me on my journey of motherhood today! 🙂
We have an almost 15-month old little boy and some people thought I was crazy just to birth at a birthing center . . . so hence we didn’t tell a lot of people about our decision to encapsulate my placenta. 🙂 We read an article on Passionate Homemaking’s blog that was really informative. My husband, bless his heart, dehydrated it in a cheap-o $20 dehydrator from Harbor Freight a few days after birth (one of the benefits of being a real foodie is that you probably already have a great dehydrator! 😉 ). It has really been a blessing to have those capsules! They have helped with my milk supply on several occasions . . . one, when we travelled across the state around 2 months PP and my milk supply decreased d/t stress, and two, during those moments of extreme stress on my body (i.e. hard week physically and emotionally, had my period at the same time). I think they’ll be really helpful during the weaning process, too. I have struggled with depression on various occasions in my life, and just having them in the back of the freezer makes me feel more prepared. Going even further, I support you in thinking that it’s not wrong to consume the placenta – as a believer in Christ, I believe God has given us great tools to help us take care of our bodies and steward them well – nourishing food, essential oils, plants, and even our placentas if we choose to do that.
I still have my placenta in the freezer from my birth almost 3 years ago! I wish I had it encapsulated at the time, but wasn’t organized enough to get it done. Can I still use it? Do you think it will benefit me 3 years postpartum?
Michelle @ Find Your Balance
As long as it’s frozen I think it would still be ok. Some women I know saved a portion of their pills for menopause. Look into it!
Michelle @ Find Your Balance
I’m with you. Wasn’t able to get my placenta the first time around, but determined to do it this time. I can use all the help I can get for those postpartum weeks. I mean months. I mean years?
I’m curious about the ladies who had non-hospital setting births who did not encapsulate their placentas – what did you do with your placenta? My midwife mentioned that some women use the placenta to make a beautiful print by dipping it in ink and stamping it on paper (so it’s like an image of the tree of life.) I have heard others bury it and plant a tree. Maybe other times it just gets disposed of. I just kept mine in the freezer, deciding what to do with it and forgetting about it. I had a difficult post-partum (sore bones/joints for a year) so I wish I would have acted on encapsulating it at that time. Maybe I can still get back something from it even now, but I will have to look into more.
We buried the one for our first daughter when she was 10 months, the morning before we left to move from Melbourne to Perth, in a beautiful park. I wish that I had consumed some of it, as I did it with our second daughter’s placenta. My midwife, who was with me during our homebirth, helped cut it into small pieces and freeze them in ice cube trays. Then, I would pull one out and eat it with yoghurt each day. What a difference it made to my wellbeing compared to after my first daughter. I had much more energy and was not teary at all.
I did placenta encapsulation with my second child, because of all the aforementioned benefits. I did feel good for the first 3 weeks postpartum. I misread the dosage info and kept taking a full dose of them for two more weeks. I started to have symptoms of postpartum depression from taking too much. My daughter also had a rash from getting too many of my hormones. My chiropractor told me to stop taking them, and said too much of a certain supplement can actually cause what you’re trying to prevent. Two months later I’m still trying to rebalance my hormones with chiropractic care, supplements, and lifestyle changes. I’ve also read some stories of celiacs and gluten-intolerant women getting sick from consuming their placenta, because like the liver and other organs it captures toxins in our bodies. Since these women maybe didn’t abide by a strict gluten-free diet throughout their pregnancy, consuming the placenta afterward actually made their celiac disease flare up. So while my experience has somewhat scarred my view of placenta encapsulation, I do think it can be beneficial, given you get muscle tested on your placenta capsules. With muscle testing you can make sure you’re taking the right dose for you and not a general, predetermined dose. Prayers for a healthy babypotamus and postpartum recovery!
I don’t agree with all the stuff that is written here. It is still not common in the US midwives circle to even mention abt placenta encapsulation. I birthed at home with a midwife this year and when just mentioned abt eating it, she couldn’t even stand it. She made faces and kind of gaggy thing. So no having a midwife tobirthisgreat but it is not the ultimate thing and not all midwives are same. Some still very conventional and treat you like they have been trained by a hospital staff.
Btw, eating placenta is not common and not normal. That’s my thought !
Faith @ Nourishing Herbalist
Yep, I did it and would do it again. Although I never struggled with PPD, I couldn’t believe just how wholly well I felt so soon after giving birth. My energy was amazing and my milk supply was incredible. As a Christian I did have initial concerns that this practice may be defiling to the body. Though Christians are not bound by Old Testament law, those laws were put there for good reason… so I set out to search the Scriptures. Surprisingly I found nothing that would condemn the practice. The method of draining, washing and dehydrating the placenta extracts nearly all of the blood, which was the only concern I had. Furthermore, history itself reveals this was such a normal practice in ancient times… even during Christ’s time on earth. It’s all really fascinating to me!
You do realize that the placenta is a shared organ right? Between you and the baby. And check out Deut 28:57… I use mainly KJV but in other versions (including the Geneva that preceded it) it seems to strongly imply that eating the placenta (and your baby) are a curse. Just saying.
I also use KJV…and you’ve taken that completely out of context. It says NOTHING about the placenta. It’s talking about cannibalism used as a form of survival when Israel shall be attacked from without and then the Lord shall scourge them with plagues. Says nothing about eating the placenta! The placenta is only a shared organ until the umbilical cord is cut. Then it is no longer a part of the child.
I’m sorry you think I’ve ripped this out of context. I would encourage others to read the passage. The KJV does not mention the afterbirth, other versions do, including translations earlier than the KJV. Sorry if this was unclear in my post.
I did it with my first and I will definitely do it if I am blessed with more kiddos!
I was clueless with my first who just turned 1 and I am 18 weeks pregnant with my second. Really, really wanting to do this because I had such horrible ppd after Emmalyne. At around 8 weeks old I was so terrified that she would die in her sleep that I would spend all night watching her breathe, not sleeping at all.Mood swings, lots of random crying and anger at myself for acting this way This lasted for 5 long months. Thankfully I responded to herbal treatments very well using mama calm from texasmedicinals.com My midwife recommended them and the became my herbal “crack” as my husband came to call it lol. My only concern is that I will not be able to get my placenta released to me in the hospital. My OB called it a “Bio-hazzerd waste product” and didn’t sound to optimistic about letting me have it. Thinking about putting it in my birth plan and having a special cooler for it and getting it to the lady that very day. Thank you for this wonderful post and giving me lots of links to research it. I also wanted to add that as a Christian I do believe that we are under Gods grace and forgiveness when we come to issues like this. Declaring it against God’s laws due to a belief that it is cannibalism isn’t right. Like all things we should lean on personal convictions and our own walk with God that may lead all of us in different paths that he has for us. Personally it was during my prayer time when things were so bad that I remembered reading something about this. In my eyes and in my heart I know that it was the Lord trying to help me and give me something to go on for the next time around. Many Blessings, Kelsye
I have not yet consumed my own placenta but when did pay for my sister to have hers encapsulated and we split the capsules. It was really beneficial for me. I got a good boost out of it and then saved the rest of the capsules for the day or two before my period when I go a little crazy. My husband is unaware, he thinks it is too weird but it has saved us a lot of arguments!
My sister did not want to ingest her placenta at first, then postpartum psychosis set in. She was hearing noises and was afraid she was going to hurt her baby. Her husband, who is in med school, said, “Take the pills!” She did and was normal amazingly fast.
I recently encapsulated my sister-in-laws placenta from her third baby. She had got postpartum depression with the first two and did not have 1 day of it while taking her placenta and then not any after the placenta was gone. I know some people have issues with it (including my husband) but I see it as a gift from God to mothers who desperately need it.
Life Breath Present
I say totally “go for it”! I did for our little one and they helped me a ton. I wanted to try preventing PPD, not completely sure if I’ve staved PPD completely off, but they definitely helped those first couple months or so. Good for helping me not think I was so awful on a “bad” day with Baby, good for helping me have a tad of energy to get through those post-partum days, and just good for general overall mood.
I so do love this sacred art! It was such a pleasure to serve the women in my community in this way. So grateful to see my picture on the page! xxoo
Sure wish I had heard of this when my kids were born! Sounds like a great idea, would definitely do this if I was having more! 🙂
Didn’t do it with my first but I plan to encapsulate when we have another. I was a MESS with my son – low milk supply starting at 3 weeks (I eventually had to put him on homemade formula because I COULD NOT make enough no matter what I tried); weight issues, fatigue, brain fog …. you name it, I had it. My son just turned one and I’m still working through some of it. I think placenta capsules could have helped me avoid many of the issues and enabled me to continue breastfeeding (He self-weaned at 8 months because there was no milk left). And I will DEFINITELY take it easy next time! Learned that lesson the hard way!
I so badly wanted to encapsulate with #2, but hubby strongly protested. I am now pregnant with #3 and plan to do it whether he likes it or not! I had severe PPD and PPA with my last two, I really think it will help to use my placenta this time!
No, I would never do it.
I had my placenta encapsulated and ate a chunk raw in a smoothie just after my daughter was born. It was funny, because the day the midwife returned to drop of the capsules I had had a rough time with my baby’s umbilical cord. Nothing too crazy, but she started crying unexpectedly, and this led to me walking around clutching her and crying for the next three hours. My husband and mother in law were bewildered and no amount of convincing could make me believe it was hormones. She was three days old and I am a first time mom. I was rocking in the chair crying when the midwife called. She said she was just calling to say that I could take an extra capsule if I wanted because the second or third day could be a little weepy, and I may need some extra support. (a LITTLE weepy!!???) After taking the capsules I felt unimaginably better, and for the past seven months if my husband sees so much as one tear he comes running at me with a glass of water and two placenta pills. I’ve tried to tell him they can’t cure EVERY thing. . . but I don’t know if he’s convinced! 😉
I took my placenta pills after baby #2 but did not after baby #1. What a huge difference the pills made! Both of my kids were in the NICU for 2 weeks because they were early. It’s stressful to have a NICU baby. With baby #2, I started taking the pills about 3 days after she was born. I was amazed by how emotionally stable I felt, despite having an unanticipated NICU stay and a baby who was intubated after she stopped breathing and turned blue! Of course I was I terrified and cried appropriately but I didn’t feel so out of control emotionally. On top of that, I had a 23 month old at home whom I had never spent a night away from until I went to the hospital and missed him very much. My baby girl nursed every feeding after she was no longer needing breathing help. But I pumped after each feeding just to help my supply. While taking the pills, and her nursing every feed, I still pumped 38 oz in 2 days!
With baby #1, I had vaginal bleeding for 6 1/2 weeks. Baby #2 (and placenta pills), 2 weeks.
I was also amazed by the amount of energy I had. Sure I was tired some days but not like I was with my first. Another reason I know they helped? I never dropped the F bomb to my husband 🙂 I felt so calm and cool and even. My baby girl is 11 months old now. I still have some pills left and I have a tincture that will last for years. So happy to have that as a back up if I need it!
Lacey @ KV Organics
We didn’t even know about this with our first 4 babies, and I didn’t feel as though my post partum babymoon adjustment periods were unusually difficult. Normally hormonal, I guess. But we also had hospital births with them too. So, for number 5, just born this past June, we did a home birth and the placenta encapsulation. I can’t say as I felt remarkably different one way or the other taking the pills, but I do have a funny story to share. When my doula friend who does encapsulation came to pick up the placenta, my hubby offered her a kombucha SCOBY baby since he had an extra. She said she couldn’t handle those things, they were just too gross. And then she walked away with the placenta out of my fridge. Oh the irony! 🙂
Unless I miss my guess, this is Chinese medicine. I was warned not to take it if I were sick: it would only drive whatever was wrong with me deeper into my system instead of drawing it out. Be careful.
Otherwise, this is not only beautiful, but sanity-saving, among other descriptors that would help a lot of women in a time when our foremother’s advice has been warped by modern medicine.
I had my placenta encapsulated after each of my two pregnancies…and I would do it again and again. What a difference it made. I had no idea the impact the capsules had on me those first few weeks until one day my hubby gently asked, “Have you been taking your placenta pills?” After thinking about it, I realized that I had forgotten to take them for a day or two. I know that I saw the benefits in mood (more consistent, fewer swings), milk supply increase, and strength (I felt less weak, doula said it probably had to do with the high iron content). I recommend it to anyone who asks me (although usually they give me the side-eye)!
With my second child, I encapsulated my placenta. It was truly the BEST decision I ever made. When I took the pills, I felt happy, balanced, competent and just plain peaceful. I can’t say for sure why my state of mind was so much better the second time around but I’m positive that it had a lot to do with my placenta pills.
With my first pregnancy, I would have been disgusted at the thought of placenta encapsulation but with this second baby, I honestly wonder about divine intervention and having the universe out information in our path so that we consume it, really think about it and make better choices for ourselves the second time around.
I believe, with the risk if sounding like a total nut, that taking the placenta was really meant to be, my body responded in a way that was truly awe inspiring.
A worthwhile endeavour for someone who is open minded enough to try.
If I had known about this with my first ( in ’92) I would have done it then! I didn’t actually hear about this until my 3rd (in ’05) and didn’t do it until I was a surrogate in ’08. Thank goodness I knew about it then, I had twins and really needed the post partum care that placenta offers! Do it! Don’t question it and don’t look back! Take the pills and get the cooking liquid to drink, you won’t regret it. Good luck and congrats on your new baby human.
I had PPD with most of my kids and it wasn’t until after I had my last child, that I found out about placenta encap. I wish I had known sooner because you can bet I would have done it. I really struggled with a lot of different issues that have taken me years to understand and correct but I am so grateful for moms ‘who get it” No judgement, no criticism and all love and service. I would love to talk to some moms who didn’t have access to placenta on how they healed from PPD to gather some amazing warriors mama stories for my site. I am so glad for this post, Heather, thank you so much from me and all the moms out there who need to heal and be strong for their families.
Hi Heather, I hope you are doing well and enjoying time with your sweet new baby! If you have a minute to comment, I was hoping to find out if you did go through with encapsulating your placenta and if you feel it’s helped you? I am due in 3 weeks and have been going back and forth with it.
Knowing you can have your placenta in capsules form is interesting. I’ve never considered it simply because I simply can’t tolerate squishy textures, they make me gag immediately due to texture sensitivity from aspergers. I’m definitely considering doing it now that I know a way I may actually be able to ingest it without gagging and being grossed out thinking about it. If even half the benefits are true it seems worthwhile.
I am very interested in placenta encapsulation and do believe that it could possibly have some positive effects, but I do not do it this last time around because 1) I had a hard time finding actual studies and research rather than just personal experiences. A lot of the traditional usage consisted of consumption immediately after birth and not for weeks after so I would be curious to see actual studies and 2) there haven’t been studies on what bacteria survive the cooking or dehydration processes. A woman in LA recently got a bacterial infection from placenta pills. Could have been poor procedures or a random occurrence (she was group b step positive) but regardless, I just want to see more research first. Let’s encourage it!
After going through what I didn’t realize until later, was slight PTSD after abruptly stopping nursing, I read that the Placenta Pills are excellent for when nursing ends to help stabalize hormones. It totally makes sense! So keep those pills for weaning.
Hi Heather, if I wanted to save money and not encapsulate the placenta can I just continue to put pieces in smoothies? Or take them like pills like I do with raw liver?
Hi Lauren, most people typically recommend the smoothie method in the early postpartum method and the capsules later on. It is my understanding that the smoothies are more potent and can be disruptive if used for too long. I am not an expert, of course, this is just the most common perspective based on what I’ve read.
So happy you had a good experience with placenta consumption and are spreading the good news! I am a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and have only done two in my day, but I think the benefits are incredible and I’m so glad you shared your own experience.
I do have a question for you! I am pregnant with my first 🙂 How much placenta did you throw in each smoothie? I plan to do the smoothies, encapsulate, and do a tincture for long term. Just trying to visualize exactly how much was used for the smoothies because they seem to be extremely beneficial in the first bit of the postpartum period, as you illustrated.
Thanks so much, you are one of my very favorite blogs and I absolutely *loved* your birth video. Love and good vibes to you and yours!
I Wonder if you could make a broth out of it…
I am consuming my placenta! Oh my gosh the difference is amazing! I hit a wall of exaustion and depression after my daughter. I didn’t know about encapselation at that time. I felt that wave start to hit me, took a pill and whoa! I felt normal! I feel amazing! I am 2 weeks pp and I made my daughter some prepared foods for lunch I am going to try her with tomorrow. I am doing diaper laundry. I am up moving around! Not overdoing it, just able to do things. With my daughter it took weeks before I got out of bed. I had horrible mood swings, intense bouts of crying, no appitite, exaustion, and depression, my milk came in later than this time with my son. I will certainly do it again! Along with a homebirth again.
Love this post… it is so filled with facts and great information about why to do this. I especially appreciate your honesty about the process and reality of the outcome.
For those that are on the fence: I am not a hippie dippy kind of gal. Actually quite the opposite… I am pretty practical minded and conservative. I do eat organic, a lot of raw food and gluten free, but a lot of that is due to food allergies, weight control and health. My interest in placenta consumption stems out of pure desire to connect with my baby and to focus on preventative care. Also, if it doesn’t hurt, why not try?!
Hi I was wondering how you kept your placenta fresh for the first week for the raw smoothie? Did you freeze it or refrigerate it? How long does it last in these conditions?
Some of your sources lead to placentabakery.com, but it’s actually a blog pushing pirated movies. Did someone hack your links?
Awww, bummer. It looks like the site was either hacked or it expired and now someone else is using it. Thanks for letting me know, I’ll remove the links.
It seems like an interesting idea. I can see how it would be of benefit. I know that you mentioned that mammals eat their placenta but I have not read anything about mothers in traditional cultures doing this. I imagine half the reason why other mammals would eat their placentas would be so that the smell didn’t attract predators as well as it meaning one less meal that they have to hunt after giving birth.
So I am not sure that it is the same for humans as we don’t have any predators smelling out or placenta and we have a surplus of meat and food so the need to eat the placenta for an extra food source is less.
I also have read that the placenta plays a role in stopping various chemicals and toxins which are numerous in our modern environment crossing over to the baby. I have no research on this but have heard from various sources mentioning up to 200 chemicals found in the placenta (in reference to the harmful chemicals reaching our babies bodies before they are even born!) so I would be concerned that there would be a significant build-up of these harmful chemicals in the placenta that you may not want to injest into your body especially when breastfeeding.