Remember when I wrote this post? I look back now and wonder if my baby blues* would have been worse if I didn’t encapsulate my placenta. During the first eight weeks or so, I was really wrought out. I mean, my hormones were coursing through my veins trying to regulate my now-not-pregnant body, a new tiny person trying to communicate through crying, a new dad hustling to run errands, and family members wanting to help (but kind of just getting in the way). Oh and the bleeding. *shakes head* The bleeding.
Before Spawn’s birth, I talked to my doula who offered placenta encapsulation services. I read up on it via Dr. Google. Her past clients had sworn by it. Everything I knew was purely anecdotal. What I did know was that it wouldn’t hurt if I did it. So I did.
Eating your placenta or ingesting it via pill form is supposed to help with breastmilk production, maintain hormonal balance, restore minerals and iron lost during delivery and encourage overall postpartum recovery. Others think it’s a placebo effect.
I’m listing a few articles that may help you decide if you want to do this:
- “Eating your placenta offers serious benefits” – The Stir
- “Why Placenta Encapsulation Is The Smartest Post-Partum Decision I Could Have Made” – XOJane
- “Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?” – Science-Based Medicine
- “I regret eating my placenta” – NY Times
- “Mothers face ban on eating placenta pills” – Independent UK
- “My experience eating my placenta” – Mama Natural
When the baby was being cleaned off and I was being stitched up, I exclaimed,”I need the placenta! For Betty [my doula]!” I forgot to let her and my OB know that I wanted to do the encapsulation prior to being admitted. Fast forward 48 hours, Betty took my placenta from the hospital and got it ready for me.
I will spare you the graphic image of my placenta. You’re welcome. But I am really glad Betty took a photo of it. (But if you want to see how it works, go to this Babycenter link. Warning: VERY GRAPHIC.)
A few days later, Betty came back to do a postpartum doula visit and bring me my pills. She said I had a small placenta, which yielded about 60 capsules. She also brought over the umbilical cord. (I ended up not saving this because I knew it wouldn’t survive 20+ years so I could show Spawn.)
The capsules themselves just look like ground up cacao nibs. Haha!! I stored the capsules in the fridge. They smelled. It was best just to pop them and drink a lot of water.
Here’s a closer look. Cacao nibs, right? Heh.
I started taking two pills every day at Week 2 along with my prenatal vitamins. I’ll admit, I didn’t take them every day. Sometimes I’d forget. You know, baby, diapers, lack of sleep, whatever. The Wife was good to remind me. In fact, there were times during the first month, I’d just cry. I think I scared the bejeezus out of him. He would ask “Did you take your pills?” I think my demeanor had changed so much that he even asked if I wanted to see a therapist.
What I can tell you is that my milk production did increase – I leaked all the time. It was honestly pretty annoying to have to leak through every piece of clothing all the time. On the flip side, I was able to pump so much breastmilk that I donated about 100-ounces at the get-go.
I sweated all the time – even with the air conditioning on. (Remember, Spawn was born in the middle of summer.) Hot flashes postpartum? Yes. My anxiety was still there. (Though I feel like anxiety is something a new parent just inherits. You are responsible now for another human being.)
By the time I finished my capsules, we were in the middle of Month 3. I think it’s hard to say whether my body had finally regulated itself and/or the capsules helped me. My crying had stopped. My feelings of despair lessened – it didn’t go away, it lessened. My milk “came in” – I pumped every few hours. I ate like a sumo wrestler.
Also by Month 3 (more like 4), I got the hang of things. The baby and I got into a routine, albeit a little isolating. Eat, sleep, poop, play, repeat. Outings weren’t as stressful. (Car rides still sucked – she cried all the time.) I kept up with my prenatal vitamins as well; perhaps the placenta capsules gave me an iron boost along with them.
Do It Or Dump It?
If I had to do this again – pregnancy – I’d still encapsulate my placenta. I didn’t have any ill effects from it. I was fortunate financially to get it done – most services run a few hundred dollars. The anecdotal evidence doesn’t hurt the case for it.
I’m sorry that I don’t a concrete case for or against placenta encapsulation. I wish I did. From my experience, it felt like it helped me recover a little quicker. On the flip side, it could all be in my head and I’m just buying into the placebo effect.
In the end, you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Please let me know if you have had your placenta encapsulated! Or not! What are your thoughts on this?
* Baby blues – I hate that term but I used it in this post. LI think I had a mild form of postpartum depression.