Placenta Power?

I don’t have a whole lot of plans for how I want this birth to go down – in four weeks (or less…) The extent of my birth plan is pretty much: do whatever it takes to get through it and leave the hospital with a healthy baby.

Okay, I’ve thought it through a bit more than that. I hope to avoid the epidural and get by on gas and narcotics, if I can. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – including the often bizarre, crunchy granola birthing stories in the first half of the book. I’ve been listening to my “hypnobirthing” guided meditation audio recordings on iTunes and reading up on various coping techniques. I’ve embraced the belief that my baby and some primal part of my body instinctively know exactly what to do, even if I don’t or can’t understand how it works – it just will. We’ll pack our tennis balls, massagers and hot/cold packs. And I know my hospital/doctor practices delayed cord clamping when possible, so I’m good there. Pretty standard stuff so far. But then I’ll also be packing two large ziplock bags and a mini-cooler to store my placenta on ice so it can be picked up at the hospital and returned  in pill format for my consumption. Yup, I’m essentially gonna eat that sucker.

This is the encapsulation process as described by my chosen service provider (the sister of a friend and a DONA certified doula):

Steamed Preparation is the Traditional Chinese Medicine inspired preparation. It involves cleaning and bleeding the placenta. The placenta is then placed in a double boiler where it is gently steamed with lemon, cayenne, ginger, myrrh, lemongrass and some water. Steaming the placenta with these spices and herbs adds a warming aspect to it which encourages the tonifying and sealing of the uterus which allows the qi to replenish and encourages blood to circulate to the parts of the body that need healing, balancing a mother’s body and essence post birth. The placenta is then sliced and placed in the food dehyrator for 8-12 hours. Once the dehydration process is complete, the placenta strips are ground into a powder and encapsulated into capsules. Depending on the size of the placenta this method usually yields 75-200 capsules.

Some people think this sounds totally legit, while others think it’s horseshit. I can’t say who is right, but I’ll certainly play ball. The few scientific studies conducted on placenta encapsulation have neither conclusively supported nor disproved the purported benefits of the centuries-old practice. Nonetheless, many women who have done it, swear by it. The one thing I found particularly compelling was hearing several people I know say that on days when they didn’t take their pills – their partner/others could tell. Among the many possible benefits, one of the biggest is a decrease in postpartum depression and anxiety. It may also help to increase the release of the hormone oxytocin – which helps the uterus return to normal size and promotes bonding with your baby, increase CRH – a stress reducing hormone, restore iron levels in the blood, stimulate milk production, reduce postpartum bleeding, provide natural pain relief and keep your energy levels up.

All for just $200? Fuckin A’, sign me up!

With no real risks, why would I not give it a shot? Even if the effects are mostly in my head – so what? A well-intended placebo can go a long way and if it helps in any concrete way, then all the better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s