When I had my first baby, I lived on the opposite side of the country from my family. What had once felt like an awesome adventure on the West Coast became an insane initiation to motherhood. It seemed I was in a sleepless cycle of tending to a needy newborn while trying to recover physically from a delivery injury.
Of course there were Skype and family visits, but the majority of the first three months of my son’s life I spent alone adjusting to my new normal. Between the pediatrician appointments, the diaper changes, the baby crying in the car constantly, and contracting mastitis, it all felt very sink or swim. While I’m proud to say I made it ashore, I never wanted to struggle during the newborn stage again. I was willing to do anything to make sure my next postpartum experience was better than the last.
I prepared myself as best as I could — acquiring baby supplies, organizing help from family, meeting with postpartum doulas, and researching postnatal vitamins and even placenta encapsulation.
The more I looked into having my placenta encapsulated, the more intrigued I became. Possible benefits as reported by the American Pregnancy Association include:
- restoration of iron lost during birth
- alleviate anxiety
- increased energy
- increased milk production
- aid in postnatal recovery
It seemed that all the women I heard of who had tried it swore by it, whether they were moms I met in person or women whose accounts I read on the internet. When surveyed, the majority of women who had consumed their placenta after birth believed it to have positive benefits. They claimed to have easier, less painful recoveries from labor and also felt happier and less likely to experience “baby blues.” I figured it was worth a shot!
I mentioned this to my midwives during a routine appointment. They were supportive and talked me through the process and the beliefs behind it, as well as the medical side, explaining that there are currently no scientific studies supporting the physiological claims behind consuming one’s placenta.
I found a local OSHA-certified doula to encapsulate my placenta, which made me feel slightly better about consuming something that had previously been inside my body. I was told she would come to the hospital within 24 hours of my baby’s delivery to pick up my placenta. My midwives made sure to have my placenta placed directly into a sterile container and brought to a special placenta refrigerator to wait for pickup. Who knew such a thing existed?
My pills were returned to me about a week later, and I was surprised at how normal they looked. They could have passed for regular multivitamins! They came with instructions on how many to take and how often. I found that I looked forward to taking them — placebo or not, I always felt a little better afterward. They seemed to give me a little boost, both energetically and mentally. I was certainly more supported following my daughter’s birth, being closer to family and friends, but I do believe that, in part, the placenta helped me to feel better nutritionally and recovery wise. I would wholeheartedly do it again should I have another baby, and I would also recommend it to others.
It should be noted that not only are there no scientific studies to prove that consuming placenta after birth is effective, the CDC doesn’t support the practice at all. I made the decision to consume my encapsulated placenta on my own and recommend that anyone who is considering it speak with their own medical provider before making decisions around their healthcare.