Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You want me to eat what?

The thought of eating a placenta sounds horrible to me. I am not a sushi kind of girl so raw in general sort of makes me nauseous. However, given the situation, and if we are talking life or death there would be no question in my mind; I will do whatever needs to be done- and drink whatever I need to drink- to be well.
Following these traditional methods of placentophagy are amazing. The draw back to creating a "placenta cocktail" or actually cooking with a placenta is that it limits the time of consumption and therefore the amount of time you may benefit from its resources.
This is why placenta encapsulation is such a great alternative. You still get the many benefits of nutrients, hormones, etc. but it is carefully put in the highest grade of Vegetarian Capsules that have no preservatives, no animal products and are put in an easy to swallow size capsule.

We follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) guidelines of placenta encapsulation. This process includes steaming, drying, grinding and encapsulating the placenta. The preservation technique of dehydration simply refers to the removal of moisture from foods, in other words, drying. This method extends shelf life significantly because yeasts, molds and bacteria need moisture to survive. Therefore, as long as the capsules do not get wet, they are good for many years to come. And, when you have recovered from childbirth, you can freeze the capsules and save them for menopause.
So if you are one of the many women that can't "swallow" the idea of eating the placenta that is OK. Placenta encapsulation is the best choice to receive optimum benefits.

Birth Plan...Placenta Plan epidural? episiotomy? Pitocin?
There are so many things to think about while preparing for your birth. I loved the idea my Childbirth Class Educator while preparing for my first birth. The idea was to have a plan before walking into the hospital and the realization that I do have choices. I felt empowered by having a plan. I felt like I was prepared. I knew that I had done my research and made decisions that were right for me.
It was not until my second child that my Licensed Homebirth Midwife had asked me something I had never been questioned about before. She had asked me what my plan for the placenta was. I, like most women probably, was taken by surprise. A plan for my placenta? I suppose I didn't realize there was much to do with the placenta. I was in nursing school at the time. We had discussed during my Labor and Delivery rotation everything there was to know about pregnancy, birth and postpartum. NEVER had anyone told me that a mother had options in regards to the placenta. It made me sad to think that this amazing connection between my first born and I, a "lifeline" as I have heard it called before was simply thrown in the trash with hardly a second look. It seemed so unappreciated. I had heard of preserving cord blood before and all of the research that is going into it's benefits but never the placenta.
Because of my schooling I was well aware of what the placenta was for but had never been taught the benefits of a placenta once the baby was born. I liked the idea of honoring the placenta in some way maybe to bury it under a tree to represent the new life it had become.
Then my midwife mentioned eating it. Wait, what did you say... eating it!?!? Um, no. I mean somebody was going to have to pay me to do something totally gross like that. Sure, I wanted to be 'super natural' but I have to draw the line somewhere. I flippantly said, "Who would do that unless it was like life or death!?" My wonderful midwife smiled and laughed and sweetly told me stories of women whose life HAD been saved physically as a result of eating the placenta raw and other women whose life had been saved emotionally by eating it in pill form. Hummm... I thought...I'll think about it. Although I did eventually get the placenta encapsulated, which I am so grateful for, I still had many questions.
By baby number 3 I finally had a placenta plan! I did my research and had someone lined up to encapsulate the placenta. I was also aware of the benefits of traditional placentophagy and had told myself that if a situation arose I would remain open to a "placenta cocktail." Thank goodness I did not need to take it, for if I did, it may have came right back up. The point is I was aware. I knew my options and I had a plan. I had made educated decisions on what was best for me, my baby, and my family.
I have no idea what is right for you and your family. But, I do know, that traditionally mothers are never asked what their 'plan' is for the placenta. It is simply thrown in the trash. And although that is 100% a choice that you can make I encourage mothers to truly look at the many other options you have. Make it part of your birth plan and review it with your health care professionals.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Why should I encapsulate the placenta?
Over 80% of mothers suffer from the “baby blues” starting in the first weeks after giving birth. Studies show that the placenta is extremely nutrient rich, high in iron, protein, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6 and of course, your own natural hormones. Your placenta is perfectly made for you, by you. Experts agree that the placenta retains hormones, and thus reintroducing them to your system may ease hormonal fluctuations.
Placenta pills are believed to:
-diminish “baby blues”
-increase breast milk production
-help the uterus to contract down and therefore lessens postpartum bleeding
-ease fatigue
-contain your own natural hormones
-balance your system
-replenish nutrients lost during childbirth
-increase energy levels
-ease your postpartum transition

Although current formal research on human placentophagy does not exist, what we do know is that women who take placenta capsules report fewer emotional issues, have more energy and tend to enjoy a faster, more pleasant postpartum recovery. The first few days and weeks with your new baby are precious. Invest in you postpartum recovery with placenta capsules that are made perfectly for your body.

How does the process work?
Please let your heathcare providers know your wish to keep your placenta in advance. Most Colorado hospitals are aware of your rights to the placenta; however, if you anticipate a problem you can print a “Release of Placenta and Waiver Liability” form (attached herewith) For your convenience we will come and pick up your placenta immediately following delivery, ideally, within the first 24 hours. The placenta should be placed in a plastic bag or container (we suggest a Ziplock bag or a Tupperware container.) The placenta can be refrigerated during the first 48 hours but needs to be placed in the freezer if the 48-hour time frame has been exceeded. We can encapsulate the placenta up to a maximum of 6 months post birth if the placenta has been stored properly. The encapsulation process takes 24 to 48 hours at which point we will hand deliver your placenta capsules to you.

How are the capsules made?
This process includes steaming, drying, grinding and encapsulating the placenta. During this process we adhere to the utmost standards of cleanliness and use careful preparation techniques for consumption. We believe the placenta is made perfectly for you, by you; therefore, we do not add any additional herbs or spices to your placenta during the encapsulation process. We use only the highest grade of Vegetarian Capsules that have no preservatives, no animal products and come in an easy to swallow size capsule.

How many capsules will my placenta make?
Each placenta is different in size and substance so the amount of capsules it makes can vary from 50 to 200.

Who can benefit from placenta pills?
All mothers and babies can benefit from their own placenta medicine. We work with women delivering at home, birth centers or hospitals within the Denver/ Boulder Area. If you live out of state and desire the benefits of placenta medicine please contact us to coordinate special arrangements.
NOTE: Any pregnant mother that has positively been diagnosed with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS or has had a uterine infection during pregnancy cannot participate in placentophagy.

When should I take my placenta pills?
You should start taking your placenta capsules as soon as you receive it. The suggested dosage is 1- 3 capsules 1- 3 times per day for the first 1- 3 weeks of postpartum. At that point you may choose to continue taking the pills or you can taper off and use them when you are:
-feeling fatigued
-experiencing stress
-in a period of transition
-feeling sadness or depression

How should I store my placenta capsules?
The pills have been dehydrated so must be stored in a cool, dry place. The preservation technique of dehydration simply refers to the removal of moisture from foods, in other words, drying. This method extends shelf life significantly because yeasts, molds and bacteria need moisture to survive. Therefore, as long as the capsules do not get wet they are good for many years to come.

How does my baby benefit from placenta pills?
Your baby benefits from placenta pills as much as you do and all by simply breastfeeding! In addition to some of the health benefits outlined above, your baby may also experience an improved immune system. If you are taking your placenta pills on a regular basis your baby receives all of the same benefits of placenta encapsulation as the mother. If, for some reason, you are unable to breastfeed please contact us for other ways your baby can still benefit. Once your child has moved onto pureed food you can mix in the placenta powder of one capsule daily directly into their food. Remember, you and your baby shared this placenta and can both have shared benefit!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

my placenta journey begins

i am the oldest of 3 girls. i have 3 degrees. and i have 3 boys of my own. whatever new endeavors i explore i always seem to come full circle right back to the basics. a love for mama's, babies, birth and all the issues that encompass these things. i am not sure how or when this love story began. perhaps it was when i was 5. i camped out on the hospital floor at the feet of my mothers bed in my magenta polyester sleeping bag. hours and hours passed by as my mother's labor slowly peaked. i heard words being spoken across the room back and forth like meconium, doula, respiratory distress, and contractions that were becoming part of my vocabulary as each hour passed. i loved my mom more than anything and had this amazing confidence in her that she could do this even through the occasional yells and screams. i was as prepared as a 5 year old could be. i looked through the Bradley Method books and saw pictures of the other mothers doing the exact same things that my mom was. and soon my best friend was born. i watched her through a glass dome as the hospital took the measures needed to insure her lungs were clear. while my sister was practicing her breathing, i was busy preparing for a party. the doula and i went into the lounge area and put the final touches on the birthday cake. i made sure that everyone had a hat and my dad made sure everyone had some champagne. it was a true celebration of a new life begun and a huge accomplishment for my mother.
from that moment on i had told everyone i was going to be an obstetrician. it seemed like an admirable goal. a doctor.
ten years had passed and my parents dream of having another child had come true. i was 15 and like most teenagers the world revolved around me. my mother once again had no doubt that she was going to have a natural birth and choose a midwife to assist for baby girl number three. i watched in awe of my mother's strength, desire and love shining through with every push. i cried and like a pro cut the cord and placed a warm hat on my newest baby sister. i was inspired with out knowing and wanted to tell the world with out knowing how.
unfortunately, it was a school day and not even birth was going to get me out of playing hooky. I wanted to show everyone my baby sister so instead i asked if i could take the placenta. as i look back i have no idea what possessed me to want to take the placenta to school, but i did. i felt like a rebel, or that i had a special secret that only i knew. i remember having to take it to one class before hitting my final class, Biology where my secret would be revealed. as i pulled out the tupperware the class looked on eagerly. i mean, what was going to top dissecting a pig or cat brain like we had done in the classes previous? but i knew what i had was much more exciting. an organ that had hours before sustained life. an organ so complex that it is hard for some of the greatest scientists and doctors in the world to explain.
my teacher was ecstatic. and even offered me extra credit. some kids thought it was gross while others were amazed. i was proud that i could share with others what i truly believe is one of the most powerful, unique and unappreciated organs of them all-the placenta.

Monday, November 16, 2009

oh baby.

im kate.
im 25 years old and single.
and i really have no reason to be interested in all this "placenta stuff."
im not planning on having babies anytime soon.
but i am my sisters' sister.
i have seen her through 3 pregnancies. 2 home births. i have sat through meetings with midwives and helped with tea baths. there is so much to learn before you have a baby, and some things you just have to learn through experience. there is nothing like the miracle of having a baby. and it intrigues me.
i grew up in a family that believed this miracle was for the whole family to experience and be involved in. when i was ten i helped deliver my little sister, just like my big sister helped deliver me. this life changing experience does not just effect the mother and child. everyone who knows the mother, who wants to be apart of this new baby's life, is effected. giving birth is emotionally, physically and spiritually hard. and if someone told me that there is something natural that can support the mom and baby in this process then i would want to know. i believe in the power of the placenta and i am excited to partake in this miracle when i have kids. for now i hope to help others discover and experience this gift.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

you are gifted.

as i laid in my own bed with my husband and our hour old baby boy, we thought of what to name him. the worry and excitement and fear had been replaced with feelings of joy, thankfulness, love and purpose. i now had the honor of loving and raising two boys. something you can never fully be ready or prepared for.
but i think some things might happen not because you are ready, but maybe because it simply becomes your turn.
sometimes you have to jump, and grow your wings on the way down.
as we are admiring our new addition to the family,one of the midwives peeks her head in...
"what would you like to do with the placenta?" she asks.
the question caught me off guard. i honestly didn't know what she was talking about.
my husband kindly reminded her of where the trash was located.
she could tell we were confused and briefly informed us that this unique organ that is the mediator between the life flow of you and your baby contains many vital nutrients and is the perfect medicine for healing and rejuvenating after birth.
who knew.
and while all this was intriguing, i declined the placenta cocktail and told her i would think about the powder or pill option, she understood, and put the placenta in our freezer.

the next couple days i did some research. looked online. talked to my midwife. of course i had questions about this organic ritual. and then i was in the middle of breast-feeding and it dawned on me. i realized how much i trust my body. it made perfect sense that this organ could facilitate in healing and postpartum recovery. i called my midwife and told her i would like to have my placenta encapsulated.
after that i no longer thought of the placenta as an organ to be thrown away. but more of a gift. a miracle.

her miracle came unannounced...
and in an odd package
it looked different than she had imagined
yet it fit perfectly
divinely constructed
solely for her.
(by kristen jongen)