The placenta is a Unique Organ

Hey Mama… Do you know how truly amazing your body is? When you are pregnant you are not only growing a human but you are also growing a whole new organ to supply your baby with all the nutrients it needs for nine months in your womb. 

The placenta is such a unique organ, it not only gives nutrients to your baby but it also acts as a protective barrier and endocrine organ as it releases hormones like HCG, estrogen and progesterone. It’s like a filter as well as your baby’s lifeline.

It is full of beneficial vitamins, minerals and hormones that are essential for a healthy pregnancy.

Hormones and your placenta go hand in hand. Let’s chat about hormones for a minute.

Oxytocin is one of those vital powerful hormones that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and it can help to decrease pain.

Cortisone helps to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Iron helps to combat anemia.

Prostaglandin helps uterus get back to its original size.

Prolactin helps increase milk supply and bonding.

Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone help to regulate hormonal imbalances, mood and insomnia after pregnancy.

It’s no secret that many mamas believe that their placenta not only has a roll in pregnancy but also an essential roll in postpartum. I get it… to some of you this may sound pretty weird, but women have been consuming their placenta for centuries. It’s really only been the last decade or so that it has become more popular here in the US. I think this is because you are feeling the need to research on your own to find out what’s good for you and what will help with struggles of postpartum depression, mild supply, depletion of vitamins and minerals and hormones after you give birth.

Some of you probably are so consumed with enjoying your baby right after birth, you have no idea what even happens to the placenta. Some of you might ask to keep it and bury it under a special tree at home. Some of you (probably only those doing a home birth) may choose to consume a small piece in a smoothie right after birth. In my practice I talk about this in one of our prenatals.  If I have a mama who is bleeding a little more than I’d like then one of the first things we do is cut a small piece of placenta and have her put it under her tongue or between her cheek and gum. I know that sound pretty gross, but let me tell ya…it works like a charm to stop bleeding.

Many of my clients choose to encapsulate their placenta. So…what the heck is placenta encapsulation??? 

After the placenta is cleaned well, it’s dehydrated and then ground into a powder. We then put in small veggie capsules and mama take 2 caps over the next few weeks or months.  We usually have enough to last for 3ish months which is the perfect time for your hormones to find a new balance.

You might ask, why in the world would anyone want to consume their placenta, I thought only animals did that. Well, let me tell you all the health benefits from this. I think animals got the right. The placenta naturally has an incredible amount of essential hormones that help bring balance once again. It also has an enormous amount of iron in it. When your baby is born all that goodness leaves your body and now it has to make up for that loss. Consuming your placenta can help you keep up with the hormone and iron levels for a few months after birth which can help with postpartum adjustments including milk supply, energy, fatigue and anxiety you may experience as a new mom.

My clients who encapsulated their placenta and took it after the birth said they experienced better breastfeeding, better milk production, improved mood, less postpartum depression, and less postpartum bleeding, and felt their recovery was faster. They also said they experienced less postpartum pain and discomfort from after-pains than previous births. 

If after reading this you may be thinking you want to encapsulate your placenta but you’re having a hospital birth and wonder how to go about this. Just ask the nurses to please save your placenta, they will put it in a container for your partner or doula to take it home and refrigerate or freeze it until you can get it to your person to encapsulate it. Sometime that person will even come to the hospital and pick it up for you. It will keep in the fridge for a few days but any longer than that I would pop it in the freezer. 

On occasion, I would bring home placentas from my clients who didn’t want to encapsulate or bury it.  My family was always very careful that they knew for SURE what it was that they were defrosting. My protocol for disposing of placentas if my client didn’t want her’s was to bring it home and plant it in what I fondly referred to as my placenta garden. Of course, that’s not something we broadcasted to anyone, no one but our family and my clients knew about it.