That’s right. And the deer in the headlights look comes over the faces of the folks who have not yet heard of this actually classic & completely natural phenomenon.
With our first daughter, we had an incredible hospital birth. There were definitely many things that we have learned about since, and even many things we did differently with our second daughter – who was born only 2 ½ years later. At no point with our first birthing experience, though, were we asked what we wanted to do with our placenta. That is one of the reasons the deer in the headlights look came over my face when our homebirth midwives asked us for the birthing of our second child.
Our toddler and I were at one of the regular appointments with the midwives when one of them asked, “So, what would you like to do with your placenta?”
My response – “What do you mean what do I want to do with my placenta?”
Then our midwives proceeded to explain the options:
- Some people offer it for education
- Some people keep it and plant a tree with it in the backyard
- Some people eat it
I can’t even imagine how big my eyes must have gotten, and I assure you, the placenta went to education – stat!
It was so beyond foreign to me, even more foreign than homebirth initially was! The mere thought of it sounded so disgusting that I am sure I blocked everything out after that. I know the midwives expressed the benefits and the options of digestion, but my brakes were on and my walls were up and there was just no way that was happening. Like, ever!
And that was fine. That was my choice. That was what I was comfortable with and there was no judging either way.
After our second young lady arrived, our homebirth midwives even took the time to show us the placenta, tree of life and all! They explained how much you can learn from it, about the mom, the pregnancy etc. I say etc as I was still really all set with this whole placenta thing. Yes, it’s beautiful, yadda yadda, please send it to education now.
And again, that was fine. That was where I was at on the path that I am on.
And then that whole ‘education and mind opening’ thing happened.
Since the topic is getting more widespread I found myself at an event listening to a speaker who was a homebirth midwife who also did placenta encapsulation. She explained the history & tradition surrounding placenta ingestion, the ways to prepare the placenta, as well as the possible benefits. The key word here is possible as there have not been a lot of studies done on placenta ingestion yet. The fact that I had already heard of this concept made me more of an active listener. What she said was incredible.
Possible benefits of placenta encapsulation include:
- Increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the infant.
- Increase in CRH, a stress-reducing hormone.
- Restoration of iron levels in the blood.
- Increase in milk production.
- Decrease in post-partum depression levels.
That’s right. And I was amazed. Especially the part about the decrease in postpartum depression levels. That was the kicker. Knowing that 80% of women experience some form of postpartum emotions ranging from baby blues to things more serious, I knew that I needed to pass this info along to every expectant mama I worked with from then on out.
And I have.
And often, folks are already familiar with it. This is wonderful because it tells us that more and more parents are educating themselves! Sometimes I get the deer in the headlights look and that’s okay too. I simply let everyone know that with my births I opted not to, and with the education I have now, I would in a heartbeat. That’s the beauty. It is your choice to make, with the information you have at the time.
It’s just my responsibility as an educator to get you the info.
A little bit more info on the topic, how does one digest their placenta? Do you just, like, nibble on it???
Well, you could.
Luckily you also have other options there too ☺
You still might want to hold your nose though:
- Eat it raw
- Cook it
- Make a smoothie with it
- Turn it into a tincture
- Turn it into easy to take capsules
And voila! You give your body back all of the beneficial hormones, chemicals, iron & proteins it needs!
As I mentioned earlier, there have not been a lot of studies done on this topic yet and then even once they are done, as with most things in our lives, there will still be conflicting opinions.
What it boils down to is this.
Placenta ingestion has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine as well as other cultures for centuries.
We are the only mammal on the planet that does not ingest our placenta.
So yes, we can go back and forth on studies, their outcomes, who financed the studies and more. We can even get into heated discussions on social media if we’d like, though I definitely opt not to. In the end, it’s your decision. And if you feel that the possible benefits sound beneficial enough to make it worth your while to ingest your placenta – increase in milk production with a decrease in postpartum depression for example – then why wouldn’t you? Especially when it can come in easy to take capsules!
In the end, it’s your baby, your birth, your placenta and your comfort level. You will make the best choice for you with the information you have.
And that is all you can do.
And that is just right.