I won't lie to you. When I first heard about using your own placenta post-partum, I wasn't convinced. Actually, I was super turned off. I'm supposed to eat...what!? But, here's the thing. Once I learned the benefits (and that there are many options other than eating it), I became a believer.
When I had Brooks, it wasn't as popular or readily available. When I gave birth to Scarlett, it was definitely starting to become more mainstream. I ended up trying it and I loved it. I could notice the difference in my energy level off the bat. I also loved the way it balanced my hormones. Yes, I still had those post-baby mood swings--but it wasn't as drastic. Those are just a few of the benefits!
When I became interested in the possibility of using my placenta, I was referred to a postpartum doula by Lori Bregman. reached out to Ida Reid who is a postpartum doula here in Los Angeles. She's been working in this field extensively for years and has helped me through the process.
Since the topic of placenta is still relatively new, I thought it would be a great opportunity for Ida to share her insight with you, too. I'm currently taking the pills after I gave birth to baby Grey and I highly, highly recommend it!
1. What are the benefits of the Placenta post-baby?
There are many benefits to consuming your placenta postpartum. Many women report a boost in energy, more balanced hormonal shifts, a fuller milk supply, less fatigue and a more relaxed/“ease” into the wild transition that is motherhood.
Hormones found in the placenta are (taken from my website doulaology.com):
- Prostaglandin – anti-inflammatory
- Prolactin- promotes lactation
- Interferon- stimulates the immune system to protect against infection
- Cortisone- combats stress and gives an energy boost
- Hemoglobin- replenished iron deficiency and anemia
- Gamma globulin- immune booster
- Oxytocin- often referred to as the love hormone it aids in a person’s ability to bond with others.
Hormones from placenta are absorbed in the mother’s bloodstream; in turn, these hormones cause a clamping down of uterine contractions which can lead to reduced postpartum bleeding.
The placenta produces and carries an array of hormones within it. Some benefits to these hormones are; stabilizing a mother’s metabolism (managing fatigue), aid in the production of the mammary glands (milk supply), and stress reduction, it also triggers the body to heal and increases postpartum iron levels. One of the key factors to combating depression is being well rested and as stress-free as possible. While there is no current research on the effects of placentophagy and depression, I have had clients report a drop in overall mood once their supply of pills was done. Placentophagy can also help with PMS and menopause.
2. What are the different ways you can consume Placenta? (ex: pills, smoothie, etc.)
There are many ways to ingest a placenta; pills, tinctures, smoothies, Homeopathic remedies, some people fry it up (like a steak) some will even put a raw chunk between the gums and cheek allowing for the nutrients to be absorbed that way. The most popular methods of consumption are through pill form, a tincture, or smoothie.
For women who want to reap the immediate benefits of placentophagy postpartum to control postpartum bleeding and in some scary cases a postpartum hemorrhage; a smoothie is going to be desirable. These smoothies can be made by placing a palm-sized chunk of placenta into a blender along with your favorite smoothie ingredients.
Placenta pills are the most common form of placentophagy. There are two methods to making placenta pills: the raw method and TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) method. There are benefits from both these methods.
TCM- the placenta is placed in a water along with lemon, ginger and pepper (these ingredients are believed to bring a cooling and heating element Yin/yang) the mixture is steamed up to 30 minutes, then the placenta is cut into thin strips and placed into a dehydrator for 8-10 hours, those strips are then finely ground to make a powder which is then encapsulated.
Raw method- The placenta is cut into strips and placed in a dehydrator at 50 degrees Celsius till dried, then ground into fine powder that is encapsulated.
Both gelatin or vegan pills can be used for encapsulating.
3. Can you explain the tincture process more in depth?
Tincture is made by placing a chunk of the mother's placenta along with a high-grade, high-alcohol content liquor ( I use vodka or tequila) into a glass jar and steeping it for 6 weeks. This liquid is as potent as the pills and can be taken by placing several drops into a glass of water and consuming this mixture. Tinctures can last forever by replenishing the alcohol.
4. Is one better than the other?
Both these methods have their benefits; it’s up to the mother to decide what she is comfortable with. Some people believe that we as humans have evolved over the years to eat cooked food and that by heating the placenta the nutrients are better absorbed. It is true that by heating the placenta some of the nutrients will be affected (to what degree is unknown) such as, vitamins, stem cells and some hormones. Other less sensitive vitamins, hormones and nutrients for example, iron, is not affected by the heating process.
4. What do you think scares people the most?
My clients are most concerned with the sterilization and storage of the utensils/ instruments I use when processing placentas. It is important when considering a placenta specialist to employ someone who has been certified in food and blood safety and uses a disinfectant that is effective against blood borne pathogens. I personally will not process more than one placenta at a time. For this reason, I tell clients to expect a 24-72 hour turn around for the pills.
5. Is it expensive?
The cost of placenta pills can range from as low as $150-350. I charge $300 for the pills and tincture. Most placentas will yield 75-200 capsules. I will tack on an additional charge for smoothies. This additional charge is dependent on where the mother has given birth and what I need to supply for these smoothies.
7. Any other information new moms should know?!
New moms should be aware that placentophagy is not FDA approved; but has been a known practice in many cultures for centuries. I personally get great satisfaction out of knowing that I am helping new moms transition into motherhood in a supportive way. The feedback I get from my many clients has been extremely positive. Two years ago, I personally enjoyed the benefits of ingesting my placenta. I was able to freeze additional pills and continue taking them to this day when I’m feeling tired or as if I’m coming down with a cold. The benefits are enormous!
If you'd like more information on how placenta can be benefit you post-partum, visit Ida at her website here.
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.