Saturday, July 4, 2009

You ate WHAT?!?!

I think Jonathan about thought I had lost my mind when I told him I was going to eat my placenta. However, I am not the first, nor the last to have this plan. When you think about it, a placenta is really just a big piece of meat, so what is the big deal? Mind you, it isn't very common here, but in other countries (such as China) it has been the common practice for many years. In China, most women save some of the encapsulated placenta for natural hormone balance during menopause.

So why the placenta? All of the hormones raging through a pregnant woman's body (the reason I once cried when we ran out of toilet paper) are what facilitates labor, causes your milk supply to come in and naturally makes you love your newborn baby in way you could not ever imagine. However, those falling hormone levels after birth can be devastating when you are enduring a very intense change physically, emotionally and familial-ly (like my new word?). You are so happy to have a new baby, but usually around day 3, those hormone levels cause a bit of a droop in your demeanor, a bit of the 'baby blues' if you will. Most women bounce back just fine soon thereafter, but it can be extremely heartbreaking to be so morose when you have such a precious new gift.

Personally, with Liam I honestly believe my postpartum depression lasted a couple of years. It was not devastating, I was able to function, but I was just a bit down. Physically I was tired and emotionally I was not up to par. So the logical American mindset says, "okay, so why not use an anti-depressant?" For me, I am weary of medication to begin with, but for a brand new breastfeeding baby, the effects of an antidepressant passed through mother's milk are not fully researched or established. The effects could quite possibly be much more severe than any researchers know, just like with ANY medication in today's market. With such a push to 'fix things immediately', the slower, safer methods of healing (therapy, wellness care, meditation and self-examination) are being pushed aside. For myself and my family, I am extremely careful with every aspect, so an anti-depressant was not a safe choice for us and did not make me comfortable.

So on to the placenta! It makes sense that all of the good hormones you have during pregnancy are retained within your placenta, the whole life-force that sustains your growing babe those 38-42 weeks you two are attached. The vast majority of mammals eat their afterbirth instinctively. This gives them mass amounts of natural hormones and nutrients to give them energy post-birth (a time where hunting or foraging for food is not ideal). So God obviously devised a plan for them, but what about us? Do we not have afterbirth as well? What was it intended for? God could not have possibly have designed us to have depression that inhibits our ability to care for our young at such a crucial stage in their lives.

All of this was why I had planned on ingesting my placenta after Anabele's birth. I discussed this with my midwife as well and devised my plan. She was to cut some pieces off of it initially for me to eat for the first week and freeze the bulk of my placenta. Then when I was up to it, I would dehydrate it, grind it and encapsulate it to take as a long-term supplement to ward off postpartum depression and facilitate a good milk supply.

After birth, I took three small slivers a day whole with water. It looks like ahi tuna, but tasted iron-y just like blood (I imagine what any organ meat tastes like raw). I could tell a distinct difference on the days I reliably took my bites as to the days I didn't. Primarily the difference was with my energy. By the sixth day, I had the energy to began the processing portion of my journey. I thawed my placenta and began.

Intact fetal-side:

Mostly intact maternal-side:

I cut the membrane off using meat scissors, then rinsed the blood out (which took forever). I cut the placenta into small pieces with my scissors and put them in the blender.

Once I blended it up (for about five minutes on puree), it looked pretty much like a strawberry smoothie.

Next, I poured it onto the fruit leather tray of a food dehydrator:

After about 4 hours on the meat setting, it was done! All of the placenta was dried uniformly and I didn't have to slice it in tiny pieces. It was very quick! Note: Be SURE it is really dry. If there is any moisture retained, it'll ruin your capsules.

Next, I cut up the dried ring into small pieces and stuck it in the blender (which had been cleaned and TOTALLY dried, you don't want to reintroduce moisture or it will ruin your capsules).

Once ground up on puree again, it was like powder:

I had enough for about 90 capsules of the 00 size (available at most pharmacies for about $8/100):

Ta-da! Placenta pills! I keep mine in the fridge in a jar.

As of 6 weeks later, I feel amazing. I've had no depression, no energy issues and a plentiful milk supply. I am sold on the logic and efficiency of this method of natural health care. I can tell a difference if I forget a pill, but as long as I take them, I'm set.

1 comment:

    You are such an enormous WEALTH of knowledge on these things - birth, nursing, natural meds etc... This was an amazing thing to hear and read. THANK YOU, again, for sharing this.
    I wonder what my Ob would have said if I had asked, amidst my C-section "oh, please save me the placenta! I plan to cook her up when I get back home!" They would have looked at me like I had 12 heads. I wonder if they would have even allowed me?!
    If we lived closer, I would hand my placenta right over to you - you do the dirty work, I'll pop those pills.
    You know all about me and my PPD - with Wyatt, I was fine but with Abby - WHOA! After that, I would have done anything!
    You are amazing.