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Before I ever got pregnant, I would tease my husband about eating the placenta. It was a long, ongoing joke we had. And for a long time, I only saw it as a joke. I didn’t even know it was a real thing, at least not in the US.
The only time I had heard about ingesting the placenta was in other countries, and I had never heard of encapsulation at all.
But then one day, I saw a woman in one of my Facebook groups talking about placenta encapsulation. It freaked me out at first, I admit.
The woman had suffered from postpartum depression in the past and she now planned to have her placenta encapsulated to help her avoid it after her current pregnancy. There were a bunch of comments in response from women who were raving about the benefits of placenta consumption and how amazing the placenta really was.
After reading what she had said about the placenta aiding in postpartum depression, I decided to look into it more. What I learned was truly fascinating. There were so many women who really believed that encapsulating their placenta saved their lives postpartum.
The process of encapsulating the placenta is quite simple: a specialist will clean and dehydrate the placenta, and blend it into a powder. It is then mixed with other herbs and put into capsules you take just like a pill. Some people do tinctures, which are more potent, but it seems encapsulation is the most commonly practiced form of consumption.
There were anecdotes that it helped milk supply, healing, and your hormones balancing. I took everything I read with a grain of salt, considering so much of it was not proven in any studies.
But I could not let go of how many women were saying they loved taking their placenta pills. They were claiming to see rises in their energy, milk supply and mood. They were claiming to be healing more smoothly than they had after previous pregnancies. Most of them were overcoming or preventing postpartum depression and giving full credit to their placenta. I valued their experiences, and what they were saying, because I thought it was amazing that all these women were experiencing similar benefits, and most only had one thing in common: They had been ingesting their placenta in pills.
So I did more research, and I found a local placenta encapsulation specialist. I reached out to her for some more information. She basically said everything I had already read, but she sent me some research to back up a lot of it, as well.
I read through it all, amazed. I learned that sometimes,when a woman is hemorrhaging after giving birth, the midwife or doctor will take a piece of the placenta and place it in the mother’s mouth, against her cheek to help stop the bleeding.
I read that when the placenta is encapsulated, they blend it with a few other herbs that work together with the placenta to enhance all of its benefits. I was shocked at to find out how many people were doing this, and how many people were in complete support of it.
Don't get me wrong; the idea of ingesting my own placenta was still weird to me. I had thought of it as a joke for so long, after all. And I get that the idea of placenta encapsulation freaks some people out, or even disgusts them.
But many moms and midwives are doing their best to normalize it, and I tried to have an open mind.
What really cemented me on the idea was when women in my breastfeeding-after-reduction group were seeing positive results in their milk supply after taking their placenta pills. I was becoming more open to the idea of having my placenta encapsulated in case I needed it for milk supply, or if I was suffering from postpartum depression. I wanted to be prepared.
I still wasn’t completely sold on the whole idea. Some mothers claimed it saved their lives, and others said they never noticed a difference. I talked to women who told me that they would never go through another birth without their encapsulating their placentas, and some who thought it was a waste. For the most part, however, the reactions and feedback were positive, and I really valued the wisdom of other moms.
After childbirth, my midwife had my placenta prepared and froze it for me.
Once I knew I wanted it for my milk supply, I decided to have it encapsulated. I hoped and prayed it would be a game changer, and that I would produce ample amounts of milk after taking the pills. I will never be certain if my placenta contributed to my milk supply, because I was taking so many other herbs for it at the same time.
But here is what I do know: it helped my mood and energy drastically. On the days I would forget to take it, I was much more exhausted than I was when I did remember. It also helped me feel less like I was riding a roller coaster of hormones. For me, that was worth it.
There isn’t much research out there on placenta encapsulation, but it seems that many women who have it done really love it, and swear by it. I think it’s one of those things that you have to see for yourself.
I will always be one of those “crunchy” women who believes in it, and for me I know it’s something that I am thankful I learned about and was able to experience.