Consuming your placenta may not seem like a particularly pleasant idea to most, but as someone who experienced awful post natal depression after my first child, and anxiety with my second, I was willing to try anything to combat the baby blues and hormones that can cause the terrible mood swings and feelings of hopelessness. Placenta encapsulation has gained popularity over recent years, with media attention thanks to celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian and Mayim Bialik. Adding placenta encapsulation on your birth plan won’t raise an eyebrow with most midwives either, as it’s pretty commonplace now.
The benefits of consuming your placenta are wide ranging, but not widely researched or confirmed. One study was conducted in 2013 (Selander et al) of 189 women, concluded that the majority showed no negative effects from consuming their placenta, 40% reported improved mood, and 98% said they would consume their placenta again in subsequent births. Benefits are said to include improved mood, prevention of baby blues and PND, increased milk supply, reduced bleeding, prevented or treated anaemia to name a few. It isn’t without its risks though. Toxins and chemicals pass through the placenta, as well as bacteria due to it not being sterile. Women who smoke, or have certain infections should not consume their placenta.
While I drew the line at a raw placenta smoothie (yes that is a thing!), the idea of popping some placenta capsules didn’t gross me out, so I decided to go ahead and chose the lovely Victoria from the Placenta Tree to encapsulate my placenta for me. I ordered steamed placenta pills (recommended because of a previous case of group B strep in my first birth), essence and tincture and started taking them days after I gave birth. I can honestly say from experience the pills work. I had no hormonal dip, no baby blues, no tearfulness… everyone kept asking me how I was and I could honestly answer “I feel fine!”. I can’t explain it but I felt like I was just taking everything in my stride. Cluster feeding 24/7…. no problem. Sleeping 1-2 hours at a time? Fine. Honestly I was shocked at myself by how good I was feeling! It was a polar opposite to my post partum experiences with both the girls.
Fast forward to 3.5 weeks post birth, and I had to stay in hospital for an unidentified post partum infection. I had to stop taking the pills until I’ve finished my antibiotics (the steamed pills have ginger and chilli and can make a fever worse) and I genuinely felt the loss of my pills! I felt tearful, overwhelmed, grumpy, tired, fed up and definitely NOT ok. The difference is day and night! It’s not just being ill, as even once I was 100% recovered and back to normal after my hospital stay, I still felt really down. That familiar sense of dread, exhaustion and anxiety crept back in. I counted the days til I could start popping those natural happy pills and feel ok again!
Consuming placenta certainly isn’t for everyone, but from my personal experience it was hugely beneficial, and a part of your post birth plan to consider. Speak to your midwife and placenta remedy preparer to find out what the possibilities are, the dos and donuts, benefits and risks before making a decision.
If you'd like to find out more about placenta encapsulation, I chatted to Midwife and placenta encapsulation specialist, Victoria Mustafa for the Better Birth podcast. In the episode she covers what placenta remedies are, how they're prepared, what hygiene measures are taken, and what the benefits of the remedies are. You can view the recording of the session below, or listen to the podcast on Spotify, Anchor FM or other platforms.
If you’d like to find your local placenta remedy specialist, you can check out the placenta remedies network: https://placentaremediesnetwork.org/research-and-articles/
If you’d like to read the research on the benefits, Victoria suggests the Jena study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29941176/