Now that the birth plan is complete, the post-partum plan is the focus. One significant question that remains is… eating or encapsulation of the placenta, also known as placentophagy. For those of you that are unaware, the practice of consuming ones’ placenta dates back centuries, but has recently begun to regain popularity. The idea being that consumption of this organ helps to restore nutrients to the body, as well as hormones, which can help to aid in post-partum health and mental wellness. Unfortunately, there is no medical basis behind these claims, so women should do their own research to decide how they want to proceed. Here’s the research I discovered as I navigated this path of post partum planning.
One argument for the pro–placentophagy side is that humans are the only land dwelling mammals that do not abide by this practice post-partum. I personally think that animals and humans are very different in their rituals and instincts. Although, women do tend to revert back to more animalistic instincts during labor, i.e. – wanting den like birthing areas, and grunting or deep rhythmic breathing during delivery, we do not have the same environmental factors to compete with. It is completely understandable that the consumption of the placenta does help the animal to regain strength and replenish nutrients she lost during birth. Animals also eat their placentas to deter predators (as the placenta is a large, bloody organ that may attract others). Obviously, two factors that the human woman does not need to concern herself with after delivery.
Another argument you will see for the pro-placentophagy side is that consumption of the organ will help with depression or mental wellness. Due to the fact that the placenta contains lots of vitamins like iron, B6, B12, as well as estrogen and progesterone, consumption of the organ either in raw, cooked, or encapsulated format does deliver these nutrients to you. Lacking these nutrients, particularly iron, can cause fatigue and increase risk factors for depression. B6 has also proven to play a role in regulating mental processes and mood, and therefore these nutrients are linked to helping with mental wellness after baby arrives. The complex B vitamins also help with postnatal wound treatment. With that being said, you can receive these nutrients without the consumption of the placenta.
Supplements like the Nursing Blend and Nursing Postnatal can provide these vitamin components for you. These postnatal supplements differ from a prenatal vitamin due to the increased levels of B6, B12, and the Vitamin D, specificially to support breastfeeding moms. The main difference between these two supplements is that Nursing Blend also contains herbal ingredients that help to support lactation. In leiu of eating my placenta, I’ve decided to pick the route of supplementation! Also, I do plan on breastfeeding, so having the lactation support from Nursing Blend will help to get us off to a great start.
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For those of you who will proceed with placentophagy, you do need to ensure that you are following safe preparation practices. Because the placenta is delivered after baby, there can be fecal contamination, and you will want to ensure that proper cleaning and handling of the organ is done prior to consumption in any form. You will want to act quickly, and refrigerate the organ when not in use to ensure that you are not exposing yourself to bacteria and pathogens. There are multiple options for preparation including drying the placenta and grinding it into a powder to be consumed, eating it raw, mixing it into a smoothie, or even cooking it into your daily meals as a protein. However you decide to proceed, you do want to ensure that you monitor your mood and reaction with use.
If you are not seeing positive signs of mood elevation or energy support, you should follow up with your care provider. Although “Baby Blues” are a normal occurrence in the majority of new moms, due to the significant hormonal changes occurring, they should be mild and only last up to two weeks. Anxiety, hopelessness, or constant fatigue (that is not helped by rest) that continue beyond this, could be indications that you are experiencing Post Partum Depression. PPD is a serious concern, and your doctor should be made aware of your symptoms to help you through this transition.
Bottom line, whether you practice placentophagy or supplement instead, your post partum health and mental wellness is important to monitor for not only you but also new baby. A healthy, happy mom is a good mom!