Humans as a species are one of the only mammals that don’t routinely consume the placenta after birth. Ever wondered if your missing out on something, or whether you pet cat that recently had kittens knows something that you don’t know?
The placenta is a fascinating biological achievement! It nurtures and protects your baby for practically the entire pregnancy, Allowing food and oxygen to pass seamlessly between mother and baby up to the point where the infant is born, but after the birth the placenta is typically discarded as waste when there are so many other benefits you can harness from it.
I know the topic of even considering eating your own placenta would make your stomach churn but please hear me out there are other ways of gaining the benefits from your placenta without actually even touching it!!
Now, before I go any further Let me enlighten you to a few Placenta Histories – Forgive me for cheating a little but Wiki has a huge range of these wonderful cultural oddities revolving around the treatment of the placenta.
Cultural practices and beliefs
The placenta often plays an important role in various cultures, with many societies conducting rituals regarding its disposal. In the Western world, the placenta is most often incinerated.
Some cultures bury the placenta for various reasons. The Māori of New Zealand traditionally bury the placenta from a newborn child to emphasize the relationship between humans and the earth. Likewise, the Navajo bury the placenta and umbilical cord at a specially chosen site, particularly if the baby dies during birth. In Cambodia and Costa Rica, burial of the placenta is believed to protect and ensure the health of the baby and the mother. If a mother dies in childbirth, the Aymara of Bolivia bury the placenta in a secret place so that the mother’s spirit will not return to claim her baby’s life.
The placenta is believed by some communities to have power over the lives of the baby or its parents. The Kwakiutl of British Columbia bury girls’ placentas to give the girl skill in digging clams, and expose boys’ placentas to ravens to encourage future prophetic visions. In Turkey, the proper disposal of the placenta and umbilical cord is believed to promote devoutness in the child later in life. In Ukraine,Transylvania, and Japan, interaction with a disposed placenta is thought to influence the parents’ future fertility.
Several cultures believe the placenta to be or have been alive, often a relative of the baby. Nepalese think of the placenta as a friend of the baby; Malaysian Orang Asli regard it as the baby’s older sibling. The Ibo of Nigeria consider the placenta the deceased twin of the baby, and conduct full funeral rites for it. Native Hawaiians believe that the placenta is a part of the baby, and traditionally plant it with a tree that can then grow alongside the child. Various cultures in Indonesia, such as Javanese, believe that the placenta has a spirit and needs to be buried outside the family house.
In some cultures, the placenta is eaten, a practice known as placentophagy. In some eastern cultures, such as China and Hong Kong, the dried placenta (紫河車) is thought to be a healthful restorative and is sometimes used in preparations of traditional Chinese medicine and various health products.
Derived from Wiki – Full Article here
My curiosities getting the better of me
Now my curiousity started when a few members of my online communities started raving about the benefits they had from their own placentas, admittedly most of these mums like myself are venturing on to their second children and were keen to assist post-birth recovery as much as possible. Many even had smoothies, pates and encapsulated their own placentas into pill form for easy long-term consumption.
My Friends were eager to share their own experiences with me to enable me to write this article and kindly provided permission to include their photographs and quotes which I will include below:
“I took two capsules 3 times a day until they ran out, and I felt they helped me deal with the tiredness that comes with being awake a lot in the night with a newborn, I had enough energy to cope with my new baby and toddler during the day. I had a plentiful milk supply from the start, and this is also associated with consuming the placenta. I basically felt great from day 1, and will be encapsulating my next placenta too.”
– Kirsten Richards, Mum of 2
Jo encapsulated her own placenta
“Took much less time to do than I thought… Really boosted my milk supply… Helped me deal with the dreaded “Baby Blues”… Were great for growth spurts…”
Jo, Mum of 5 from tribalmamas.com
My decision took a number of turns to reach, firstly was how did I want my Placenta Preparing – Pate, Smoothie, or Capsules?
Having a squeamish hubby who couldn’t even look at the placenta after Quentin was born, so having the placenta at home for preparation was an unlikely option which led me to look for services I could use.
I found my Specialist by using IPEN – Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network they have a directory of trained specialists.
Quote from IPEN
Placenta Encapsulation is a growing trend; mothers are saying ‘enough is enough’ to feeling tired, weak and depressed after birth. Your Placenta, rich in nutrients and hormones, may hold the key to a quicker and healthier post-natal recovery. Placenta capsules have also been shown to dramatically increase breast milk supply giving your baby the best start to life! A staggering 70% of mothers who have used IPEN’s services have their milk ‘come in’ within 48 hours after birth!
Placenta capsules may:
- significantly reduce post-birth bleeding
- encourage a quick and healthy milk supply
- replenish essential hormones such as oxytocin and CRH(stress reducer)
- replenish essential nutrients such as vit B6 and iron
- reduce stress levels
- prevent the baby blues and post-partum depression
- leave new mothers feeling calmer
- give new mums the energy to cope with a busy day
My Journey So Far
So far my journey has led me to source a suitable local doula who provides an encapsulating service. The process as I understand it is the placenta is collected from either the hospital or home as soon as possible after the birth. Then the placenta is steamed, dried out and ground. Then the ground particles are enclosed into capsules (similar to those used for medicines) and then stored in a jar. Looking forward to DoulaMum taking away my placenta and working her magic for me.
I will update this article as my journey progresses – So watch this space!!