I ate it!
Just reading of those words might have your stomach churning, but hold on to your lunch; read on if you can.
Rich in hormones, minerals, chemicals, proteins and irons, ‘placentophagy’ – as it is scientifically known – has been linked to many exceptional benefits for the new mother such as:
- Stabilising mood; resulting in decreased occurrence of “baby blues” and post natal depression
- Significant reduction in postpartum bleeding
- Promotes lactation; increases milk supply
- Increased energy levels resulting in a more swift recovery from childbirth
- Replenishes iron stores to help combat anaemia, a common condition following childbirth
Initially it may seem gross and with Western Culture treating placenta as human waste, it’s perhaps something you’ve never heard before. With such amazing benefits and scores of women (including myself) reaping the benefits I believe it’s an important subject to cover so that women can be informed of their choices.
For centuries many cultures around the world have honoured the placenta through ceremony and ritual. In Africa, Indonesia, North America, Hawaii, Aboriginal and New Zealand Maori culture the placenta is believed to be sacred and is returned to the earth through their respective cultural burial ceremonies. In Vietnam, China and Korea, it is regarded as containing life-giving energy and vitality and is dried and added to certain recipes so one can receive its benefits.
Until becoming pregnant I had not even considered the placenta. But as my pregnancy progressed and I became more intimately involved in my body I developed a huge respect for this amazing organ that was growing and sustaining my baby. To just throw it away was something I could not accept.
Having a homebirth I had amazing support from our midwives and it was they who provided the information and guidance that led me to researching this further, educating myself and deciding to have my placenta encapsulated.
Placenta encapsulation is like a “super vitamin” pill. Usually steamed then dehydrated. Ground into a fine powder and inserted into capsule shells. Capsules are generally advised to be taken daily for the first month or two and then when needed, such as during transitional periods, times of stress or sickness. In some cases women put aside capsules for use years later during menopause. Placenta encapsulation can be organised regardless if you birth at home, in a birth centre or hospital.
In my case I found my own “super vitamin” to be just that! My recovery was swift and adjusting to motherhood and lack of sleep was relatively easy, my mood was stable and I generally felt fantastic (most of the time). I still have some capsules left over and have taken them when I felt that I needed support and nurturing or in times of illness. I found them especially beneficial when healing from mastitis. It’s definitely something I would do again.