Eat the placenta?! I must be joking, right? Nope, not at all. And here’s why:
My oldest was born in October 2007. The months that followed were a very difficult time for me. I consistently sensed a dark cloud above me and felt panicky at times. Things appeared really bleak and hopeless to me. I couldn’t even fully enjoy the baby. I didn’t begin to feel any relief at all until he was around 6 months old.
My youngest was born in January 2010. I made the decision long before his birth to eat the placenta. I so much did not want to face that time of darkness again. About two days after his birth I started making and drinking placenta smoothies.
For the first whole week after his birth I was on a “high”. That was a major switch from what I felt with my oldest during the first week. I eventually felt a bit of sadness set in, but there was just no comparison to the way I felt with my first. I would describe it as emotional. It wasn’t hopeless and dark – just a little weepy here and there and it happened only in the evenings.
I continued to drink these smoothies daily until he was around a month old. In the weeks that followed I had maybe one or two more. After that I no longer needed the helping hand of the placenta. I enjoyed and savored those early months with my youngest son. As I mentioned earlier, I had PPD for the first 6 months of my oldest child’s life. Which caused me to wish away much of what should’ve been precious time together. So there was definitely a huge difference.
My youngest got thrush a week after being born and had it until he was about 3 months old. It was a very rough time and despite that I still felt so much better than I did with my first (who has never had thrush.) It was wonderful to not have PPD there sucking away the strength I needed to be there for my little one during his bout with thrush. Yet another benefit of eating the placenta.
As an important side note, the placenta needs to be refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible. We kept it in the fridge for about three days (while we were adjusting to having a new baby) before I finally sliced it into ice-cubed/quarter-sized pieces. I then wrapped the pieces in wax paper and placed them in a resealable freezer bag. Each time I needed a piece of placenta I simply retrieved one from the bag.
So, what causes PPD and why does eating the placenta prevent this rather common form of depression? Hormones. The early months of pregnancy can be a bit of an emotional time because the body is stocking up on hormones. After the baby is born these hormones begin to leave the body. The sudden loss of hormones causes a lot of strain. Eating the placenta allows for one to ease into it, slowly adjusting to having less hormones in their body because the placenta is loaded with hormones. It provides sort of a buffer while the body is adjusting and returning to its normal, pre-pregnant state. To put it a bit more simply, here is a quote from the Placenta Benefits website:
“The placenta contains your own natural hormones and is perfectly made for you, by you. Experts agree that the placenta retains hormones. Reintroducing them to your system is believed to ease postpartum and menopausal hormonal fluctuations.”
With that in mind and in light of the false impressions that are being given about placenta consumption, it should be pointed out that eating the placenta is not for nutritional benefits, but hormonal benefits. Big difference.
Here is how I made my placenta smoothies.
I placed all of the following items into a blender:
1 piece of placenta (about the size of a quarter)
1 half cup of blueberries
1 half cup of raspberries (that way I wouldn’t know if the red pieces were placenta or just raspberries…since I’m bit squeamish about those things. Plus, it added to the deliciousness.)
1 cup of apple juice (any fruit juice will suffice)
You could also add half a banana if you wanted.
Blend together, pour into a glass and drink. In the midst of placenta smoothie drinking I would sometimes come across a tiny piece of placenta (no bigger than a penny) that was missed by the blender. I swallowed these whole and never tasted a thing. And speaking of taste, the smoothies were delicious.
There are other ways of consuming the placenta. Some people dehydrate and encapsulate their placenta and take it in pill form. I have also heard of some people simply swallowing ice cubed/quarter sized pieces of the placenta when needed.
When taken with white wine it is said to “help disperse the energy of the placenta throughout the body.”
I still have the placentas from both births in my freezer. Obviously, the placenta from my last birth is smaller since part of it has been eaten. My current plan is to eventually bury them and plant trees on top.
Links and Resources (in addition to the ones scattered throughout this post):
Eating your placenta to prevent PPD
How to Prevent Post-Partum Depression
Placentophagia: Benefits of Eating the Placenta
Placenta medicine…my story
Swallow Your Baby’s Placenta One Pill at a Time
Placenta Specialists National Directory
Placenta Specialists International Directory
Traditions, Rituals and Recipes:
Placenta Disposal Suggestions, Rituals & Recipes
Placenta Recipes (not for the squeamish)
Photo credit: VBOT on Flickr
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