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Placenta Encapsulation – Why I ate my Placenta

It sounds rather gruesome and barbaric doesn’t it … eating ones placenta post childbirth.  However don’t be too alarmed – I didn’t fry it up in my kitchen or turn it into a smoothie – I arranged for placenta encapsulation.  So okay, that sounds a little more humane and easily digestible but the question is WHY did I do it?  And the reason I did ingest my placenta is simple – I was terrified of suffering from post natal depression after the birth of my daughter.
I have experienced small amounts of anxiety in the past – I think this has mainly been a side effect from taking the contraceptive pill and stresses such as work.  Its never been quite bad enough to seek any kind of professional help for it but I was really worried of post natal depression from very early on in my pregnancy.
Placenta Encapsulation
Mackenzie’s First Outing – 10 Days Old

WHY I TRIED PLACENTA ENCAPSULTATION

As I discussed in one of my earlier post, 10 Steps to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy, I enjoyed listening to the Hello, Bump Podcast during my pregnancy.  It was whilst listening to one of these episodes that I learnt about placenta encapsulation and it sparked my curiosity.  I was intrigued by the potential benefits even though none of them have been scientifically tested and proven.

And one fact that really stuck with me is that humans are the only mammals whom DON’T eat their placenta.

It is like society has made it grotesque and somewhere along the way we have decided to just dispose of them instead.  To be honest, the child free and non-expat Shelley probably never would have considered taking ‘happy placenta pills‘ either – I’ve definitely changed. Ha!

My doula provided me with information for someone who offered placenta encapsulation in our area and after considering everything I decided that I had absolutely nothing to lose.  So here is all of the things that you might want to ask or know about having your placenta encapsulated.

Why I ate my Placenta - All you need to know about Placenta Encapsulation

PLACENTA ENCAPSULATION – WHAT’S INVOLVED

You will need to do your research well before your due date, make contact with the company offering the service and complete any paperwork or deposits prior to going into labor. It is important that you advise your midwives etc. at the hospital that you want to keep the placenta so that they know not to dispose of it; therefore make sure you have made up your mind before going into labor (perhaps even write it into your birth plan if you have one). You may be given something to keep your placenta ‘safe’ but mine was just thrown into a hospital bucket and my husband took it home to put it into the fridge.

The woman, Lindsey, who came to collect my placenta drove for several hours.  I had never met her before and she walked up and embraced me in a huge hug and congratulated me on my beautiful baby – she made me feel like a million dollars for this little human I had created.

She told me the reason she started the business was because one of her best friends committed suicide 5 weeks after giving birth due to post natal depression.

Just hearing that story made me feel it was worth trying placenta encapsulation.  She took the placenta away, dehydrated it, pulverized it into a fine powder and then poured it into vegan capsules.  Once packaged up she put them in the post (signed for delivery, of course!) and I received them within a few days.

Why I ate my Placenta - All you need to know about Placenta Encapsulation

TABLETS & DIRECTIONS

A placenta will generally produce between 75 and 200+ capsules dependent on gestation and the weight of the baby.  I received just shy of 200 tablet – apparently I had a healthy placenta!  I was instructed to take 2 tablets up to 3 times a day for the first 2 weeks and then 1 or 2 tablets as and when required until they were all used up.  I have to say that the first few times I took the tablets it made me gag just thinking about what was inside them, but there was no taste or re-flux that I noticed.

POTENTIAL BENEFITS

There are plenty of potential benefits from eating your placenta.  Whilst none of these have been scientifically proven, it is worth mentioning what they are:

  • Encourages good milk supply;
  • Assists to stabilize hormones;
  • Replenishes essential vitamins;
  • Increases energy;
  • Reduces post natal depression; and
  • Reduces post-natal bleeding.  Note: I experienced bleeding for 10 weeks post childbirth so I wouldn’t say that I received any benefit from the tablets in this regard.

Why I ate my Placenta - All you need to know about Placenta Encapsulation

COST

The cost of the of my placenta encapsulation was £200 .  Whilst that might sound expensive to some, I personally think it was worth the cost.  Of course every business and country will have different rates but from my understanding the cost is relatively similar in Australia.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?

Most definitely!  And I encourage each of you that are expecting to at least research the potential options available to you, chat with a medical professional and decide if it is something you might like to do.   I have heard stories that some women will even freeze their placenta or liquidize it to save for menopause as it can be a tremendous help with the side effects from that stage of life – but I don’t think I can be that good at forward planning.  Or I’m likely to do something stupid like accidentally feeding it to the dogs.

I hope my experience has provided some useful information for you to consider with regards to placenta encapsulation.  If you are based in Yorkshire and would like the details of the company that I used then please send me an email at hello@wanderandluxe.com.au.  Good luck mummies-to-be with your pregnancies and birth experiences.  Shell x

If you are feeling low or a bit depressed post-partum, you are not alone and I encourage you to reach out for help and support.  Contact Lifeline in Australia or Samaritans in the UK.

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional and all opinions are based on my own thoughts and experiences.  It is imperative that you seek advice from your doctor, midwife or obstetrician before taking any medications.

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7 Responses

  1. I must admit, I respect your decision to eat your placenta, and I found this an incredibly interesting read. Although, I don’t think that I ever could. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with #itsok

  2. I must admit, as a doctor it’s sad to read this.. I’m sorry that so many sources of plain misinformation made you feel like you had to do that out of fear for post natal/post partum depression. Neither does it cure or prevent it, it is rather increasing the risk of upsetting the very finely tuned hormonal balance that is preventing this. All the hormones in your body is produced to perfection to make your body and mind recover from childbirth, produce ample amounts of breastmilk, and a multitude of other processes post birth. The placenta contains many different mediators and hormones that are antagonists to these finely tuned settings and there is a reason the body sheds it after birth, because we should not have these in our body at those levels any more. The body is an amazing organizm, and does best when left to do what it is supposed to do. Post partum depression is such an important thing to talk about, and I want to thank you for shedding light on this very common and sometimes very serious condition. And I do not want to criticize you in any way for the choices you made. You did what you felt was right, based on the information you had, and for that dedication I admire you. But I want to just make it clear to any woman out there readng this that you don’t have to, and by my medical opinion should not eat your placenta. There are other options, both preventative measures and help when you experience this. Asking for help as early as possible, letting go of the stigma, and shedding light on it for other women to feel that they are not alone, and that there is nothing wrong with them. If you have post pertum depression you are not a bad mother, know it is OK not to feel great, and OK to ask for help. And finally: it will pass, all will be well.
    Sincerely, Norwegian doctor.

    1. Thanks you for taking the time to leave an in-depth response. I appreciate your insights and position. I think for myself I decided I had nothing to lose and it was worth trying. I didn’t suffer from post-partum depression in those few months of taking the tablets so I was pleased with my decision to take them, even if it wasn’t due to the tablets. I completely agree that the body is amazing and I have learnt to appreciate that so much more after having a child. And I also agree that there are lots of options to prevent and help post-partum depression – I just wanted to try this as a supplement. If I had started to feel depressed I definitely would have sought professional medical advice. All the best – Shelley

  3. I completely respect anyone’s decision to consume their placenta and I can understand your reasons for it. I have to say though, it absolutely isn’t for me. I caught glimpse of mine after I’d given birth and I thought I was going to pass out so consuming it just wouldn’t have happened! Thanks for linking up #twinklytuesday

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