Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Ate My Placenta

Ok so it's not entirely what you are thinking...

This morning, which marks my daughter's 5 week birthday, I finished the last three capsules which contained my placenta. I decided to encapsulate my placenta after listening to a Preggie Pals podcast episode about the benefits of the practice. In case you're not aware of what this is all about, encapsulating your placenta involves careful processing; steaming, and in my case, infusing with Chinese herbs, drying, grinding into a fine powder, and then put into capsules for consumption. If you're absolutely disgusted, and wondering why in the world someone would take part in such a horrific-sounding practice, take note: I felt the exact same way before I came to truly understand it.

Consuming the placenta has been practiced for a long time by many cultures. Apparently, most animal species eat the placenta after birth. In the episode, "Placenta Benefits After Childbirth," Airalia and Brent Keime discuss the benefits and if there are any risks involved. Airalia is a Midwife, Herbalist, and Yoga Instructor, and Brent an Acupuncturist, and they run their business encapulating placentas, "The Placenta Whisperer" in San Diego.

Consuming your placenta is said to help you recover quicker (especially after a difficult or complicated pregnancy or childbirth), produce more high quality breastmilk, prevent postpartum depression, and aid in overall health and energy post-childbirth, among other benefits. After doing a ton of research and discussing it directly with Airalia Keime, I couldn't find any risks involved. I could only find the massive potential benefits. Fortunately, advancements in the practice allow for people to simply swallow pills, rather than having to actually eat the placenta (although, some people still do that too), and I could "swallow" the idea of that just fine. The placenta is truly an incredible organ that is beautifully created to nourish mother and baby. I was totally intrigued and I couldn't pass up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I hired The Placenta Whisperer. I delivered my daughter Audra at Kaiser Zion in San Diego. Per my request, they carefully wrapped up the placenta after labor and delivery and stored it in the refrigerator. After a couple of days I delivered it to Airalia and Brent Keime for encapsulation. Brent called me to discuss how my pregnancy, labor and delivery went, and to gauge how I was feeling in order to determine what Chinese herbs he would use to infuse into the placenta. I told him I had dealt with migraines throughout my pregnancy, and that I had to be induced at 40 weeks, 3 days due to pre-eclampsia. I was in labor for 17 hours, and endured tearing and an episiotomy, and then massive hemorrhaging. I told him I was very sore, and feeling quite emotional. He said he completely understood and knew exactly how he was going to prepare my plaenta to give maximum benefits to my recovery. After a couple of days Airalia delivered my encapsulated placenta, along with a few other beautiful goodies: our umbilical cord, beautifully coiled and preserved, and an art print of the placenta pre-processing. Everything was beautifully wrapped up in a Chinese take out box (a clever business move on their part).

I took the pills, 6-8 a day, for the last 5 weeks. I've never been pregnant or had a baby before, so I have nothing to compare my experience to except the testimony of other Moms, but I'm pretty sure the placenta pills really benefited me. For one, I definitely had no signs of postpartum depression (a very common condition for new mommies). I'm happy, relaxed, sleeping well, and generally feel "high" from baby bonding. I stopped bleeding completely after only two weeks (I guess it can be quite common to bleed postpartum for 6 weeks!). I've had lots of energy and have lost nearly all of my 40 pounds of pregnancy weight in only 5 weeks. My milk supply has been abundant and my baby has gained 3 pounds already. As a bonus, my skin, hair and nails have been healthier than ever before, and I've had absolutely no migraines (I've suffered from migraines my entire life).

All in all, I'd eat my placenta (via capsules) again if I ever have another baby. Airalia and Brent Keime with the Placenta Whisperer were great to work with and I'd work with them again. As weird as I thought it all was when I first heard of it, it really ended up being a pretty fantastic experience and it felt pretty natural to consume my placenta. Plus, I ended up with the beautiful art print and preserved umbilical cord for my own personal memorabilia. One day, I may give it as a gift to my daughter if she doesn't think her Mom is totally bonkers for saving it. Baby, you ain't seen nothin' yet!

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