Yeah, that's right, I ate my placenta! Well, technically I had it encapsulated by the great ladies at Mother Tree Birth Services. But still, I took those pills like a champ and here is the story of my fantastic experience.
I never thought I would eat my placenta, but I have tell you, I was positively wild about it! When my pills were running low, I literally looked up from the jar with just 3 pills in it and asked myself "now whose placenta can I eat?". I liked the results that much.
I remember seeing the dried placenta in the herbal pharmacy at school- It was clear and dry and looked like a honeycomb. I thought at the time that it was weird that it was not dark like blood (I still wonder how they got it to look that way). Never the less, I am a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and it seemed like I would be breaking the Chinese Medicine Hippocratic Oath if I didn't do it and I was very excited to see the benefits. I didn't see any reason why I would not "re-nourish" myself and the baby with the very thing that kept us alive and kicking the entire time.
One more thing that motivated me to have my placenta encapsulated, was when we learned about the physiology of blood flow between the placenta and the baby in a birthing class. When the baby is leaving the warm comforts of the womb into the narrow birth canal, blood is squeezed out of the baby and forced back into the placenta for holding, until the baby makes his/her way out. When the baby is safely out and the cord stops pulsing, it means the blood has finally replenished the baby from its "blood deficient" birthing state. In my experience, it took about ten minutes for this to occur but it felt like I had just taken a few breaths before my midwife asked if Geoff was ready to cut the cord. It all goes by so fast! It was the thought of the baby lacking any blood at all, that made me want to ingest my placenta.
There are the two extremely beneficial things I recommend every woman do for her baby, and they both occur just after birth. One is to cut the cord only after it stops pulsing, and the second is having your placenta encapsulated. Think of all the essential functions of blood: breathing, staying warm, fighting infection, growing muscle, and nourishing all the organs to name a few. Both suggestions are easy and cause no harm to the mother or baby at all.
They were very accommodating at Andaluz Waterbirth Center (where Clyde was born) for those that want to do something with their placenta, and will happily put it in the freezer for you after giving birth. After Clyde joined us, we stayed a couple nights and let them pamper us. And on a sunny Sunday we packed up our new bundle of joy and heading for home with my precious placenta in tow.
Mother Tree Birth Services had told us that the window to encapsulate most effectively was within a few days of delivering. We finally got around to it about Day 6. We called Day 5 and she was available to come the next day. She asked that we pull it out of the freezer, so that it was thawed and ready to go. I pulled it out, set it in the fridge, and tried to not think about how strange it was to have a part of my body in there. It looked like a big frozen ball of beautiful blood. And it was way bigger than I had thought! No wonder why I was already 20 pounds lighter just the day after giving birth.
With Mother Tree, I had the pleasure of working with a fellow acupuncturist Jennifer Steele. She showed up at a time that was convenient for us, and got to work. She immediately put us at ease by letting us know that we could choose to be a part of the process or not, it was our choice. She unpacked the placenta and allowed us to marvel at how amazing it is- thank you Mother Nature! It was very thick, probably about 3 inches, and squishy but somehow also firm. One side was very venous and looked like a tree's branches.. that was the side Clyde grew on. The other side looked a lot different. It was less smooth and looked like it had come apart from something. That was the side that was attached to my uterine wall. There laid the pack of blood that tied us together and ran through our veins. Miraculous.
At the birth center the midwives and apprentices told me that my placenta still had the membrane intact. Ok, I said, not knowing what the heck they were talking about. But, as you can see from my video the membrane is the pouch that Clyde grew in. I promptly renamed the membrane "Clydes house". Back in my kitchen, Jennifer was able to 'fold' the membrane over from one side of the placenta to the other showing us our respective sides.
This was my first time having this done as Clyde is our first baby, but it seemed to me that this process came with a lot of perks. We were able to hold the placenta and lay the the long umbilical cord (which is attached to the placenta) outstretched on the counter to see how long and twisty it was. This was super fun because in the end the shape we were making with the umbilical cord would be the artwork on our placenta prints. You gently press paper on top of the placenta and cord and it imprints its detail on the paper. It dries and looks just fascinating, like a tree of life I tell ya! You can see them lying in my kitchen in the video.
Another perk of Mother Tree Birth Services is that they make a tincture and salve with the placenta for you. Jennifer was sure to cut a piece off for the tincture and plunked it into a dark glass jar with alcohol and covered the lid before preparing the placenta for cooking . In 3-6 weeks, we were to strain our precious medicinal tincture. The tincture will eventually have the very important job as being the base for homeopathic remedies for Clyde. The salve is used for healing any tears in the perineum the mother have experienced, as well as for any skin condition the mom or baby may experience. Clyde had a bad case of diaper rash after a run in with some bothersome baby wipes. The salve cleared it right up after I attempted many other cures. There is so much healing that Mother Tree Birth Services allows you to utilize with your placenta!
Jennifer made sure we didn't want to do anything else with the placenta and then clipped us a couple pieces of cord to bury, per our request. We already buried one at Short Sands Beach!
She continued to clean it up and it would eventually end up in a big pot on the stove that had three ingredients in it, lemon, jalapeno peppers, and ginger. The foods make it more digestible, because humans are not meant to consume lots of blood.
We had to make a visit to great grandma so I didn't get to see the end product that day, but to our surprise when we came home a couple of hours later the house smelled fantastic. The house was just as we left it, with only the addition of a food dehydrator with the goods in it on the counter. It cooked all night while we slept.
The next day Jennifer came over to finish the process as Clyde and I rested in bed upstairs. She knew my level of interest in the process, and politely asked my husband to ask me if I would like to participate, as she didn't want me to miss anything. I had to decline as my eyes would not peel open. Two hours later, Clyde and I crawled out of our sleepy cave to find a big blue jar filled with capsules of our placenta, a small tin of salve, a jar of tincture, a dried piece of umbillical cord in the shape of a heart (a nice gesture from Jennifer!) and two small pieces of cord in the freezer. The capsules in the jar had magical energy. There were 128 clear gelatin (vegetarian) caps filled with what looked like dark lava colored coarsely chopped coffee beans. I took two immediately, as I was wiped out tired at this stage of recovery.
The benefits of taking placenta capsules for me were surprisingly strong. After about 3 days of taking the capsules, I had better sustained energy, my appetite was ravenous, I had an appropriate thirst (which is good cause breastfeeding made me really thirsty), a very small tear in my perineum healed much faster than I had expected, I was able to maintain a level of patience I didn't know I had in me while Clyde and I learned how to breastfeed. And most importantly, my spirits were up! I never felt a lack of drive to care for Clyde, even through the usual sleepless nights most mothers experience at first. I had just the right amount energy I needed, which was a relief, as I had heard that many women struggle with unusual feelings of depression after giving birth.
Clyde's benefits are hard to tell because again, he is my first, but he is an extremely alert and healthy baby. And he certainly didn't have any lack of love or care because mama was tired or depressed. He has had a great appetite, didn't suffer from any sort of fatigue, jaundice or other ailments.
I hope that sharing our wonderful experience with Mother Tree Birth Services has helped bring a bit of clarity to a way that you can help ensure your postpartum health and happiness with your new bundle of joy. If you have any further questions I would be happy to answer them and please keep a close eye on your placenta pills around me, as I miss mine!Lara
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