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How your placenta could save your life

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Fighting the baby blues with placenta

Placenta pills do more than you might think — these moms share how they helped ward off postpartum depression in a huge way.

Once you give birth, your attention will be centered upon your newborn baby. The third stage of labor may pass without a second thought, but when your placenta emerges and your pregnancy is over, you may not want to toss it into the medical waste garbage. Consuming your placenta has a bevy of benefits, and these moms are here to tell us how.

Placentophagy and its benefits

Placenta pills | Sheknows.com

Your placenta forms early on in your pregnancy and by the time your baby is born, is a sizable, meaty organ that has worked hard to nourish your little one, exchange gases and eliminate her waste. While many moms don't even want to look at it, others pack it up and take it home — or simply make a decision about what they want to do with it if they had a home birth.

The term "placentophagy" simply means eating a placenta — typically yours. While it may seem like a hippie thing to do, or totally "out there," moms everywhere are finding that having their placentas dried and encapsulated helps them out in the postpartum period in ways that they never thought possible. Other moms eat them raw (blended into a smoothie, for example) or tinctures are made for use throughout the mother's life. The benefits have been noted to include a reduction of postpartum depression, a replenishment of lost nutrients and even an increase in milk production.

Kristen's story

Placenta - Kristen | Sheknows.com

"Based on a long history of brutal postpartum depression in my mother's line of the family, I decided to look into any measures to try to ensure I didn't suffer the same fate," shares Kristen from Canada. "I also have a hormone imbalance that I was worried about too. I'd heard about placenta encapsulation from my friend Jackee and decided to do it myself! I found Sarah Joseph with Prenatal to Parenting who we eventually chose as our doula. She took the placenta right after my delivery and brought it to me two days later in both capsule form and liquid tinctures to take later on in life for menopause, anxiety, etc. My daughter and mother can also use the tinctures!

"My father passed away two weeks after my daughter was born and if I didn't have the placenta pills, I would have crashed and burned. It helped with my anxiety and completely kept the blues away. I dealt with (what I feel like) was normal 'new mom' feelings and thoughts and nothing worse. As I'm coming to the end of my jar, I noticed myself pretty teary when I weaned off of them in order to keep a weeks worth of pills for the future. So, I can see how I would have been had I not taken them. As Jackee put it to me recently, 'What's crazier than eating your placenta? NOT eating your placenta!'"

Idoia's story

Placenta pills - Jackee | Sheknows.com

"I had really horrible postpartum depression with my first two pregnancies (a set of twins and then a singleton)," Idoia tells us. "For my final pregnancy, I looked into placenta encapsulation as a preventative measure. I had to experiment with amounts to take, but when I found a good dosing for me (three capsules, three times a day) I will tell you that my postpartum experience with placenta capsules versus without was like night and day. I DID NOT HAVE THE BABY BLUES. AT ALL. Yes, that's in all caps. I didn't cry (well, maybe a little), I didn't lose my mind, I didn't feel crazy or out of control, I didn't have insomnia or anxiety. Nothing. I felt pretty much normal, emotionally. When my capsules ran out, the shit hit the fan. I devolved into a deep, dark depression. I somehow had forgotten about my tincture and/or didn't think it would work the same as the capsules. After trying to get on prescriptions meds with horrible results, I somehow remembered my tincture. Wouldn't you know that after a few doses, I started to feel balanced again."

Jackee's story

Placenta - Jackee | Sheknows.com

"I don't know how the first few weeks after having Piper would have gone had I not had my placenta pills," explains Jackee, mom of one. "Recovering from my C-section was really difficult; I was nauseated, dizzy and green for four days afterwards, and I even had to miss her newborn photos because I couldn't get out of bed for long enough to shower or look somewhat presentable. The first day I took my pills was such an amazing change, I felt well enough to eat, had more energy and wasn't scared to carry her and walk. They were amazing, and I will do it every birth I have, and recommend it to every pregnant woman I talk to!"

Rachael's story

Placenta - Rachael | Sheknows.com

"I encapsulated my placenta after my last birth," shares Rachael, who is expecting her fourth child. "I'm not sure if it's coincidence or they really are as awesome as everyone claims, but it was the first pregnancy I didn't have intense postpartum depression. I'll be doing it this time around as well."

Work through your own personal mommy network to see if there is a doula or other childbirth professional that can encapsulate your placenta for you. Idioa says that the only problem you might run into is if you have a hospital birth and the staff isn't willing to let you take it home, but discussing it with your doctor and the nurses beforehand can eliminate conflict. After all, it is yours, and the benefits are amazing. If you have a family history of postpartum depression, or think you can use a lift after your baby is born, definitely look into it.

More on having a baby

Birth disappointment: When things don't go as planned
Having a baby when you don't have a mom
Rare twins born holding hands

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