Baby is here! You’re tired, over-joyed, and falling in love with this new tiny bundle of magic. You probably aren’t thinking too hard about the organ that helped sustain and grow your baby for the last 40 weeks. But you should, even if only a little bit, give it thought.
Placenta encapsulation seems to be growing in popularity recently, and for good reason. Your placenta holds valuable nutrients that can help alleviate many of your postpartum worries. Different cultures have been consuming their placentas for a long time to help in mom’s postpartum healing.
What we are finally doing in our culture is creating a palatable way to reclaim our own nutrients that are lost during the birthing process, by encapsulating the placenta. For those of you that have not heard of this practice, or are unsure of the encapsulation process, here is a quick rundown. Encapsulation involves cleaning, possibly steaming, dehydrating for eight to 14 hours, grinding the dried placenta, and then putting all that into capsules. You take prenatal vitamins for nine months to help your body with growing a baby and birth; these capsules help your body heal after the birth.
Postpartum depression hits about 15 per cent of all new mothers within baby’s first year. Many of us have friends, or have personally been struck by “baby blues” or postpartum depression. For the women who have gone through this, the postpartum period can be horrible. Most women who are looking into placenta encapsulation are interested for this major reason. Your placenta holds hormones that trigger cortisol (stress reducing hormone), oxytocin (love hormone), and thyroid stimulating hormones (mood effectors). When these hormones drop in the first few days after the birth of your baby, it takes months for your body to naturally replenish them, and that is why many new mothers feel a “crash” after baby is born. However, the women who have decided to encapsulate, have noticed they do not feel that drop; they experience a more seamless transition from pregnancy to life with baby.
Postpartum depression is a perfectly good reason to encapsulate, but it isn’t the only one. Your placenta also holds milk stimulating hormones. In our fast paced society many new moms often worry that they will not, or can’t supply enough milk to meet their new baby’s needs. Women, who have encapsulated after a low milk supply with a previous baby, have been surprised with how well breastfeeding has gone after taking their capsules. They are amazed with how much milk they produce, and they feel excited to be successful this time around!
Your placenta also holds iron, protein and various other vitamins and minerals, all readily broken down into a usable form for you, just waiting to be taken back. These easily absorbed hormones, vitamins, and minerals help in uterine healing, energy levels, and maternal/infant bonding.
There are many ways your placenta can be healing, and not just by encapsulating. You can have it made into a tincture, which can last forever, and is used for transitional times for you and your family, just take a couple drops under your tongue. Your placenta can also be made into salves, lotions and even bath bombs. The hormones are absorbed by the skin to help with eczema, dryness and aging.
If, you are interested in honouring, but not holistically using your placenta, many women are opting to have “Tree of Life” prints made. It is an amazing piece of art that is a unique keepsake for you and your baby. Many other families keep their placenta and bury it in a special place with a tree or perennial that is special to the family.
With so many options, why not give your placenta a second thought?
Natasha Longridge is a placenta encapsulation specialist, birth doula, aspiring midwife, and mother.