“Ew that sounds absolutely dreadful! Why, on Earth would anyone do that?!”, I think was the remark I blurted out when first hearing about placenta encapsulation and consumption.
I was 25 weeks pregnant with my first-born (Sophie), and I was nearing the end of my massage treatment at The Celtic Touch with Linda Cook. I had seen a leaflet in her treatment room and was immediately regretting that I had asked about it!
I started to feel sick, whether that was morning sickness or the thought of eating my own placenta, I don’t know. What I did know was that many celebrities had started doing it, but the thought of me actually doing it, repulsed me.
How did it work? Was it like having steak with chips?! I joke now, but I was completely blind to the benefits and didn’t understand it properly.
Intrigued, I left there and decided I wanted to research this further before I dismissed it altogether. Over the next few weeks I did lots of research online and chatted to Linda about placenta encapsulation, and its healing properties, and my opinion completely changed. In fact, I came to the conclusion that it was absolutely the best thing to do for me and my baby.
So what is placenta consumption all about? Well, firstly there are a couple of ways to eat your placenta. Some have it raw (in a smoothie) but the most popular choice, (and the one I went for), appears to be placenta encapsulation. Now I don’t wish to dismiss the smoothie method, as this has massive healing benefits for the postpartum Mummy, but I didn’t do it, and so I think it’s best that I stick to talking about what I know and have done personally!
There are two types of methods used when encapsulating a placenta. The first is the raw (simple) method, and the second is the steamed method which is also known as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) method.
I decided to go for the TCM method for both of my placentas. Especially as my first placenta was covered in meconium (baby’s first poo). I also thought it was best to have it steamed so that it killed any germs. With this option, your placenta is usually steamed with lemon, ginger and green chillies, (depending on your specialist), and then the placenta is taken out, cut into small pieces and placed in a food dehydrator for several hours until it is crisp. The dried placenta is then ground down and put into vegetable capsules.
At first, I thought the ‘raw method’ suggested that the placenta is consumed raw, but this isn’t the case. The method is exactly the same as the TCM method but the placenta isn’t steamed; it’s just placed into the food hydrator until crisp and then ground down and encapsulated in the same way. So basically, they just skip the steaming bit!
So which one should you go for? Well, after doing some research and chatting to other Mothers online; I found that there are different types of benefits from choosing either capsule. The TCM method is said to provide a calming effect and reduce chances of post-natal depression and the raw version is said to offer a more energetic effect. The latter also tends to provide more tablets as the placenta shrinks when steamed using the TCM method.
Women all over the world have reported many benefits when it comes to consuming their placenta. I personally, found that it helped with my energy levels, especially after continuous sleepless nights. The tablets gave me the energy to get through the day, and when I missed one, I really noticed a difference. I usually took one first thing in the morning, and then another early afternoon. I tried not to take them after 3pm, because I found that I would get a boost of energy in the evening and I was then unable to wind down and sleep properly. I had a very traumatic time with my first-born Sophie, and she was quite ill at the beginning. I think the tablets helped me through this time as I didn’t feel down or depressed, and I was able to adapt to my new life as a Mummy with a newborn.
One massive benefit for me, was that eating my placenta undoubtedly helped my milk to come in. This was definitely the most important benefit for me. As I mentioned, I had a traumatic time with Sophie, she wasn’t breathing (because she was in distress and had swallowed meconium) so was born very quickly by emergency c section, was a smaller baby at 4lbs 12oz and was taken away from me to the special baby care unit. I didn’t get to meet her until the next day. Because of the situation, we had no immediate skin to skin and no chance to produce that love inducing hormone oxytocin which helps develop a healthy bond and aids healthy breastfeeding.
Evidence suggests that women are less likely to breastfeed following a traumatic birth or lack of immediate skin to skin with their newborn baby. Well, it was going this way with me! My milk just wasn’t coming in and I had delayed taking my placenta tablets at first, (because I was on painkillers and iron tablets), and I didn’t want to add anything else into the mix. I wish I had taken them now.
I took my first placenta pill on day 8, post birth, and my milk came in floods the next day. We had been topping Sophie up with formula until that point, but I was then able to express and offer her expressed milk to top her up and get her weight up, which resulted in one very happy Mama! I’m happy to say that I am exclusively breastfeeding Natalie, and took my placenta pills as soon as I got them, which was day three after birth.
One piece of evidence that helped sway me was that the IPEN breastfeeding survey found that “17% of clients have milk within 12 hours, 18% within 24 hours and 31% have milk by 36 hours. 76% of clients have milk by day 2 post birth which is well before the average of 3-4 days for most post-natal mothers.” Also only “0.5% of clients were unable to breastfeed due to low milk supply”.
There are also many other benefits including reduced postnatal bleeding and balancing hormones; all of which I also experienced, however, the increased milk and energy were the main benefits for me!
Now…you may be reading this and thinking; it’s just a placebo, and yes, you may well be right. However, all I can give is my personal experience, supported by the information I found and the relevant websites and associations which I have listed at the bottom of my blog. All I can say is that I felt great after both pregnancies and the results from the tablets were the same both times.
What do you have to do?
There is very minimal effort required from you, which is great, as we have enough to prepare for when there is an imminent arrival en route!
Firstly, you need to find a local specialist, you can click here to find one.
Secondly, you need to find out if they are available around your due date to encapsulate your placenta for you.
Finally, you will need to print off a form (that your specialist will give to you), fill it in, and attach it to a clear sterilised container, to take with you to the hospital.
I bought a container from Robert Dyers and sterilised it with Milton’s. I printed off the form and then attached it to the top of the lid using sellotape all over, which also acted as a waterproof cover/laminate for the label. I kept the container in a reusable shopping cool-bag from Sainsbury’s, with freezer packs in it. For the last couple of weeks, I would take it in the car with me everywhere, (along with my hospital bag), just in case I went into labour.
Give the bag to the midwife on arrival, and they’ll pop the placenta in the container and put it back in the bag. It’s as simple as that. So you don’t even have to get involved with touching it, which, (if you’re a bit squeamish like me), is great news! In fact, I never actually saw either of my placentas until they were dropped off to me in capsule form! My Husband, however, saw them both!
If you are cut short and don’t have your container with you, some hospitals may store your placenta for you and pop it in the freezer. Make sure you make it clear from the beginning that you want to keep it, as it will be treated as human waste otherwise. You’ll have to sign to take it off the hospital premises. Once the placenta is delivered and inside the container, you can arrange with your specialist to have the placenta dropped off to theirs or picked up from the hospital. It is recommended that the placenta is dropped off to the specialist within 12 hours and must be kept cool until that point.
How much does it cost?
That depends on your specialist, but most provide their services for between £150-£200 and some may take payments in instalments if you make the necessary arrangements with them. Some specialists require a deposit but most will not require payment in full until they collect your placenta, so if you decide you want it done during your pregnancy, then that hopefully gives you a couple of months to save those pennies.
When you think about it, most normal sized placentas produce well over 100 tablets. Sophie was only 4lbs 12oz and yet her placenta, which was small and damaged, provided 92. So that works out about £1.80 per tablet, which in my book, was money well spent!
Other placenta treatments
There are other placenta treatments available. I had a placenta balm cream made and also a tincture from both Natalie and Sophie’s placentas. The balm cream I used on my c-section scar and it is also excellent for healing cuts, dry cracked skin and most importantly – babies nappy rash!
The tincture will keep indefinitely and I’m hoping to use that to help balance my hormones out later in life – during the dreaded menopause. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage between Sophie and Natalie and I used the tincture that was made from Sophie’s placenta to help me afterwards. I drank 10 tincture drops diluted in water a day for two weeks to help heal & restore.
I also had some lovely keepsake hearts made out of the umbilical cords. Here’s a picture of Natalie’s cord:
So, after reading through this, I guess it boils down to one question. The question I found myself asking after doing all my research:
Can I stomach it? Can I stomach eating something that my body has actually produced?!
Before you answer THAT question, ask yourself THESE questions:
- Have you ever used Oil of Olay eye cream? It has placenta extracts in! In fact, most celebrities and cream companies would probably be dying to get their hands on your placenta!
- Are you a mammal?
“We are one of the only mammal species that doesn’t consume their placenta after birth.” (lovelifedoula)
- Will it look hideous? No, its ground down and it tastes of nothing! In fact, I have a real problem taking tablets and I’ve never had a problem swallowing a tablet.
- Have you ever eaten a bogey? You cannot tell me that you’ve never eaten a bogey…especially as a child! Something your body has created – you’ve eaten. Lots of people will probably disagree with me making this analogy, but this was actually the decider for me, because let’s be fair; it’s simple case and point. If you’ve eaten a bogey, you can eat your placenta. They’re both from inside your body, and they’ve both been produced by you!
So there you have it, that is my take on eating your placenta!
So…could you do it?
Will you do it?
Also, just to be clear, (as some people have asked), I don’t get paid to write this blog. I do this because I enjoy writing about my experiences and believe Motherhood is all about sharing and caring. I’ve learnt invaluable lessons from other Mothers, my Mum and my late Mum-in-Law.
From one Mother to another.
Until next time…
Love Janine xx
The Pegglet Mama
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Credits: placenta remedies network, lovelifedoula.com, The Celtic Touch
Photo credits: Linda Cook