What Your Placenta Can Do For You ~ Who Knew?!

What if I told you that there is a supplement that you can take after your baby’s birth thatwould ensure a good milk supply, reduce your postpartum bleeding from weeks to days, give you real energy (not the fake caffeine kind) and help protect you from postpartum depression.  Would you be interested?

Placenta SmoothieMost women would, and a few husbands/dads, too.  The transition into motherhood  and parenthood comes with enough challenges and a fairly steep learning curve, adjusting to life with little or no sleep and having no time to take care of yourself, as all or most of your available energy is put towards caring for your sweet new baby.  For most, the postpartum period is hectic and overwhelming.  Yet it doesn’t need to be that way.  Imagine the benefits enjoying the first few days of motherhood.  Imagine being able to love your postpartum.

The typical initial response of placental ingestion is one of, “You're kidding, right?!”  I was actually stuck there for quite some time myself.  However, I saw three of my clients do this and they were thrilled with how they felt, how fast they healed, how much energy they had, plenty of breast milk, etc.  These women's births happened to be one right after the other, so I saw the amazing results at the same time; not stretched out over months or weeks. It was incredible and I vowed to be willing to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere about this easy, but oh-so-effective means of thriving after giving birth.

quoteAll I ask is that you suspend the “eww” reaction long enough to hear the information and then make my own informed decision.  I find that if I can keep someone's attention for a few volleys of conversation, they leave the exchange wondering why no told them this before and how much sense it all makes.

Ultimately, I felt compelled to write a book so that what I had learned would be easy to find, easy to do and then you, too, could talk your head off about this great thing available for women.  The book also includes easy and complete step-by-step instructions for preparing your own placenta, as well as a long list of references and resources to do your own research.  And I do recommend you do your own research about this.

Now back to those three clients that did this on their own and taught me so much—all three leaned forward and whispered, as if they didn't want anyone to really hear what they were about to tell me, “It's like I didn't even have a baby, I feel that good!”  Yes, all three did the exact same thing.  These women had my attention and I started my own research right then and there.  I was shocked to find that their uterine involution (shrinking and what all those post-birth cramps/contractions are for) was ahead of the normal time frame of contracting.  I had trouble finding the top of the uterus at the 'five-day' post-birth visit and all three reported that their bleeding was scant, just a panti-liner needed!  More reason to find out what was going on here and could it be like this for all women.

What Ingesting Placenta Does:

The new mother receives a boost in hormones, it helps to stop the bleeding and speed the healing of the uterus, helps to replace the iron and blood cells that were lost in the birth process and ensures a good and abundant milk supply.  In the wild all of these factors are critical for survival. Most mammals do ingest their placenta almost immediately.  Now, I realize that we do not have to get right up after birth and run off before 'something' smells us and the hunt is on, but maybe we have forgotten how to take good care of ourselves, that mother nature has figured out a few things in eons of evolution.

In all my years as a midwife, I have seen the lengths that so many women have go to… to up their milk supply or heal from postpartum depression.  These methods are quite often a lot more extreme, expensive and usually don't work all well or at all. So you can uderstand my great enthusiasm for placenta ingestion when I saw first hand that drinking a few smoothies or swallowing a few capsules does all that you want and need.

Since writing the book,  I have met and had correspondence with a number of women who have all had the same results… increased energy, good milk supply, and simply feeling really positive overall during the postpartum period.

However, I know that some of you reading this will not be satisfied with testimonials. You want scientific research. Perhaps the most convincing thing is to do your own research, but here is a very brief overview of what is out there regarding placenta ingestion taken from Marie Berwald's blog (thanks Marie!), since she has done a nice job of summarizing:

  • quote 2Placenta ingestion in animals results in pain relief and change in hormone levels.  A study in 2004 found that elements in the placenta created pain relief and block pain receptions in the brain.  Another study in 1980 showed that the placenta contains orally-active substance(s) which modify blood levels of pituitary and ovarian hormones when ingested.  These two studies were done with rats.
  • In 1954, a study was conducted in which 210 women, expected to have low milk supply, were administered dried placenta. 86% of the mothers noticed a significant increase in milk production.  That’s impressive.
  • In 1998, a study investigated the biological causes of postpartum depression.  Researchers discovered that the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes a horomone called corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH. The rise during the third trimester is so dramatic that CRH levels in the maternal bloodstream increase threefold, which it is believed helps the women go through the end of pregnancy, labour and birth. George Chrousos, the endocrinologist who led the NIH study, and his colleagues monitored CRH levels in 17  women from the last trimester to a year after they gave birth. All the women had low levels of CRH – as low as seen in some forms of depression – in the six weeks following birth. The seven women with the lowest levels felt depressed. Chrousos suspects that CRH levels are temporarily low in new mothers because CRH from the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates normal production of the hormone. During pregnancy, when CRH levels are high in the bloodstream, the hypothalamus releases less CRH. After birth, however, when this supplementary source of CRH is gone, it takes a while for the hypothalamus to get the signal that it needs to start making more CRH. Since the placenta storehouses a large amount of this particular hormone, it makes good scientific sense that ingesting the placenta would result in more stable levels of CRH and therefore a more stable emotional life for the mother.
  • We also know that the placenta has high amounts of iron. Low iron has been linked with feelings of fatigue. Low iron in the postpartum period has been linked with greater instances of post-partum depression.  Greater feelings of fatigue have also been linked with greater instances of postpartum depression.  So it follows that ingesting the iron from the placenta which is a bio-available source of iron, would result in more energy for the mother.  More energy would conceivably help to protect her from depression.

I have not been able to embrace the cooking of the placenta (but maybe that's still coming—it took me a long time to get on board with fresh and encapsulated ingestion, so who knows that the future may hold for me regarding this!)

How To Ingest Placenta:

I think making fruit smoothies blended with a small amount of placenta (about the size of a quarter) are the best and you really, really cannot taste anything but the fruit; and of course, encapsulation is a great method also.  More steps are involved with encapsulation and you lose some of the potency of the benefits... but there is more about that in the book.

I hope that at the very least you will be intrigued by the ideas presented here and consider how ingesting your placenta might be beneficial. Just allow this idea to percolate and roll around a bit, look up a few things on your own, and I can almost bet with certainty that in the next few weeks, someone else will be brave enough to mention this idea of ingesting your placenta to you.  This will cross your path again, and the person that is being brave about mentioning it in the first place, will be so relieved that you had heard or read about it, too.  You are on the cutting edge of what's happening to postpartum!

Placenta-It Does A Body Good!

Click here to purchase Jenny's book: The Natural Healing Power of the Placenta