Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Placenta Goodness

Early motherhood was one of the worst times of my life.

Yes.  I really did just admit that.  And I am not alone.  As many as 25% of the women who give birth experience full blown Postpartum Depression.  Motherhood is supposed to be wonderful, happy, and fulfilling; but for many women, this blessing becomes a burden that cannot be fully enjoyed.  How can that be?

The human body is incredibly complex.  During pregnancy, hormone levels soar to accommodate both mother and growing baby.  Hormones and receptor sites can sometimes struggle to adjust to new needs following childbirth.  This is one of the many causes of the baby blues,  a common complaint of postpartum women.  Baby blues can be part of a normal process of adjustment to having a baby.  However, for some women these feelings are the beginning of a spiral into real depression.

When I gave birth to my first child in 2005 I was a senior in high school, a difficult time for anybody.   I felt great for the first 2 to 3 weeks after my baby was born, and despite all the obstacles in my life, I was in love with my new baby boy!  But the bliss quickly crumbled as I became depressed and resentful.  Even though I had supportive family to help me, I felt alone and was irrational.  I was angry, sometimes mean, and always sad.  I never felt worse.

Unfortunately, after the birth of my second child, I experienced much of the same.  By then I was married to a wonderful man, and we wanted a family and a life together.  But the same feelings arose after the birth of my daughter in 2007.  I was unsatisfied with scheduled c-sections that I didn’t think were medically necessary.  I was jealous that others got to meet my babies while I spent hours in recovery.  I knew how much joy and connection other mothers had with their children and I wanted that so desperately.

Before agreeing to any more children, I had to find and follow the path to the birth I wanted and face my depression head-on.  My only local option for vaginal birth after two Cesareans (VBA2C) was a homebirth attended by a midwife.  Pregnant with my third baby, that midwife offered a novel idea for beating Postpartum Depression- placental medicine.

Uh… Ew.  Gross.  No thank you!

I was totally turned off by the idea and wasn’t even interested in seeing, much less handling, my placenta. Around that same time I got an email about the benefits of using placenta medicine.  I was absolutely floored; it made so much sense!  I couldn’t believe that I had turned my nose up so quickly without even wondering how it could benefit me.

After researching more I learned that the vitamins, minerals, and hormones in the placenta are perfectly suited to the mother’s need because they are made by her- for her!  During pregnancy the placenta secretes and regulates certain hormones which are still present and available for use when the mother’s natural hormone levels bottom out after birth.  Most mammals eat the placenta after birth, and research has shown that it isn’t just because it’s a convenient meal or a way to hide the birth from predators.  There seems to be a biological reason for consuming the placenta and it just made sense to try it myself.

But I could not bring myself to eat placenta; it was just too weird.    Luckily there is a way to ingest it without a knife and a fork- encapsulation.  The placenta is steamed with some herbs then sliced very thin and dehydrated.  After dehydration, it is ground and put into pill form.  Some postpartum support herbs may be added to the capsules for extra help.  Then it is simply taken daily, just as any other vitamin or supplement.

Ten days past my due date, I gave birth (a VBA2C!) to another big, beautiful, 10 pound baby boy in the comfort of my own home.  I was so happy!  My husband had recently started a new career that required him to be gone 28 days out of the month.  So three days after I gave birth to our third child, he left me alone to go back to work, but I felt great!  Of course I was sad to see him go again, and being alone had its difficulties, but I didn’t have any issues with postpartum depression or fatigue.  I encapsulated my placenta and took it religiously to ward off anxiety, depression, and fatigue and to support my milk supply– and it worked well for me!

I gave birth to my fourth and last child last year, another home birth VBA2C, but I didn’t encapsulate my placenta right away.  I was homeschooling two older children and just too busy.  After about a month I started feeling sad and unsatisfied.  I took this as a cue that I needed to get my placenta out of the freezer and take it as soon as I could.  After the encapsulation, I felt better within just a few days.

It can be difficult to share this remedy with hesitant new moms, but I really urge people to at least look into it.  Believe me, I thought it was weird and gross at first.  I’m glad I didn’t let that keep me from trying it.  Postpartum depression and fatigue take so much joy out of an experience that is supposed to be one of the best of your entire life.  Encapsulation can be a big task for a new mommy, but thankfully there are women out there that will come to your home and do the whole process for you.  So don’t let that deter you. I encourage women who are interested in finding a certified specialist visit www.placentabenefits.info.  Every woman deserves a happy, healthy postpartum experience!

--Megan (MommaMegan)
To read more about Megan's experience with placenta encapsulation, check out her blog at www.fruitoflifenc.com.

Are you (or think you might be) suffering from postpartum depression? You are not alone! LakeNormanMommies has a private (hidden) forum for moms with PPD. 
Click here to learn more about this special support group.


Carolina Placenta Lady said...

Great article! I'm so glad more and more woman are discovering the natural wellness that comes from ingesting placenta and realizing they don't have to experience those yuckie "baby-blues".

Jen said...

Hello everyone! I am Jennifer, a student at the University of South Florida, who is majoring in Anthropology. I am doing research for my Methods in Cultural Research class about women who consume their placenta. I am doing a survey. It's a quick 12 question multiple choice. I need some response please! If you have the time it will be a big help for me. Here it is. Thank you SO much if you can help! :)


Ruby Claire said...

Sometime lots of blessings leads to fear and nervousness to pregnant women mostly first time pregnant ones.

Sheila burnett




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