“Placentophagy” is the scientific term for placenta consumption. Human placentophagy has been practiced in China for several hundreds of years, has appeared in western medical literature since the early 20th century and has experienced a surge of popularity in North America since the early 1970’s. Why this surge in popularity? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss!
The case for placentophagy,
as explained by Wendy Scharp
Common postpartum hurdles
I have worked with many new moms during their pregnancies, births and postpartum periods. Many experience the same types of challenges immediately after birth. New mothers almost always experience, for instance, postpartum fatigue, whether from a long birth or a baby that won’t sleep without being held. This fatigue may be compounded by up to six weeks (and sometimes more!) of inconvenient postpartum bleeding.
But wait, there’s more!
Shifting hormones may result in a few days of baby blues and mood swings or, for many women, weeks or months of postpartum depression. Many women also struggle to build up an adequate milk supply, an obstacle that can be attributed to a number of factors such as a premature or traumatic birth, a cesarean birth, blood loss or formula supplementation.
An unorthodox solution
Women who have had a challenging postpartum experience with their first child would probably jump at the chance to try a supplement that could help reduce or even eliminate their chances of having a similarly stressful postpartum the second time around. Well, consuming your placenta is the answer!!
Placentophagy helps reduce your risk of postpartum depression. It also brings your milk in faster and in greater abundance. Other benefits include a speedy postpartum recovery, shortened periods of postpartum bleeding, and quicker uterine recovery period.
Now you’re saying to yourself; “How does a placenta do all that?” Here’s how: The placenta provides the body with booster shot of all its own hormones (many of which are listed below).
How placentophagy works
Now, I know a few of you just threw up in your mouth a little bit at the thought of eating your own placenta. You should know, though, that there are many ways to take it, several of which mask the “placenta-ness” of it all.
The most common method of placentophagy here in the United States is that in which you take the placenta as a pill (you actually get your placenta “encapsulated” by a professional like me). Most women can handle the idea of swallowing a pill that doesn’t look or taste anything like their recently expelled placenta.
There are other methods, too. Some women “hide” their placenta in some sort of dish – a stew, for example, or lasagna or even placenta chili! Others have their placentas made into tinctures. Others still practice raw consumption – they have their placenta frozen into little pellets that can be blended into smoothies and the like.
Is placentophagy right for you?
The concept of placentophagy can be a difficult one to swallow (no pun intended) but, if you can wrap your mind around it, you may enjoy some really great benefits! I urge you to take this information, do more research and then make the decision that is best for you. Remember, though, there is a way to have an easier and more relaxed postpartum recovery period: the placenta!!
Recovery hormones found in the placenta
Prolactin – promotes let down and helps you do the same things over and over without feeling like you are doing the same things over and over
Oxytocin – helps relieve pain, enhances bonding, helps uterus contract to non-pregnant state, the ‘love’ hormone
TSH – (thyroid stimulating hormone) boosts energy and helps in recovering from stressful events
Interferon – stimulates the immune system, protects against infection
Prostaglandins – stimulates involution of the uterus post birth and acts as an anti-inflammatory
Hemoglobin – replenishes iron, which restores energy and helps prevent anemia, a common postpartum condition
Urokinase – reduces bleeding and enhances wound healing
Gamma globulin – immune booster to help prevent postpartum infections
CRT (Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone) – reduces stress