Thursday, July 11, 2013

placenta for breakfast . . .

In natural/hippie mom circles, eating your placenta is the panacea for nearly everything:  postpartum depression, low milk supply, losing pregnancy weight, and basically anything else you can imagine.  Nearly every mammal does it, we reason (other mammals also eat their children who seem too weak to make it . . . so I'm not sure they're the best example!).  In my research, I only ever found one example of someone who regrets eating it.  It is interesting that it is like a supplement made especially and only for you by your own body.  Eating it is supposed to help you ease off the pregnancy hormones slowly, rather than dumping you in a pit of tears and night sweats while you're still weak from giving birth.

The placenta is a fascinating little bit of human anatomy.  It is the only organ that we are designed to grow and then lose.  It provides all the essential nourishment to the baby while they are in the womb.  It also generates the pregnancy hormones that sustain the little life growing within.  The "guided tour" of my placenta was one my favorite parts of Vicki Jo's birth.  My midwife Rebecca showed me where the blood vessels entered, how they branched, where any calcifications were (a sign of an old, worn-out placenta), and told me mine was good and healthy.

With Todd, my placenta was huge!  It was over a pound, and very long.  I had suspected it was large because it was so hard to get a good heartbeat on him throughout pregnancy.  Turns out my placenta was just covering the entire front of my uterus, so the Doppler couldn't get through it.

I thought consuming it sounded like a fine idea, but I wasn't sure which route to take.  You can go super-hard-core and just eat it straight up like raw meat.  (Actually it is raw meat, so it's not just "like" that.)  You can freeze it and swallow chunks like pills.  You can cook it and eat it like liver (that sounds horrid, although Joolz Oliver did it!).  You can also dry it and put it into capsules and then just take the pills.  That sounded like the best option for me, since I have no problem taking pills.  The biggest issue was that people want to charge you money for doing this!  Like hundreds of dollars!  No thanks.  So, I didn't really have a plan for it other than to save it in the freezer after Todd was born.

My amazing midwife Jennifer solved this quandary for me!  Just after Todd was born I asked if she knew anyone who encapsulated placentas.  "Me!"  she said, "But I haven't tried it yet.  Will you be my guinea pig, and I will do it for free?"  Um . . . yes!  So she whisked away my placenta, dried it, powdered it, and packed it into capsules for me.  Five days later, they showed up in my mailbox.  I asked her about dosage.  "Most women take two a day," she said, "but some go up to five and then taper off.  If you don't feel like you need them, you can save them in the freezer until menopause!  They are supposed to help with that too."

Due to many factors, I was having a pretty hard time immediately postpartum.  So I decided to go with the full five caps.  I started with five a day, taken right at breakfast.  It did really help my mood, and it helped me to shed pounds very quickly.  I think it also helped me have more milk this time.  I started tapering when Todd turned six weeks.  I went down to four pills a day, then a week later three a day, and so on.  Once I get down to one a day (next week), I will keep taking them until I run out.

I think I got way more caps than is typical because my placenta was so very big.  Most women get 100-200.  I estimate closer to 350 for me.  I don't find it gross at all - just like taking any other pill.  And you can't beat the cost for the benefits I've gotten!

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