Healing from the inside out

 treeofliferm**pic from http://www.roguemama.net

I have been encapsulating placentas for over five years now. Each and every time, I am blown away by how amazing this vital organ is. Each and every time, I feel blessed to have played a small role in a mother’s post-partum experience. These feelings never get old. Each placenta is unique and holds so much energy within it, designed perfectly to nourish and replenish a mother’s body after giving birth. I am awestruck each time I am given the honour to be the encapsulator.

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Placenta ingestion is nothing new, although it certainly has become more mainstream in the western world over the past decade. The human placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) arguably since the 1500s. The earliest documentation of placenta used to treat ailments was in the Great Pharmacopoiea of 1596 by Li Shih-chen, although some people claim it had been used for thousands of years before that. I couldn’t find any scholarly articles to back that up though, so we’ll stick with the 1500s. In conjunction with other herbs, the placenta was said to be an excellent tonic that was (and still is) used in TCM to treat syndromes of insufficiency of Yin, Yang, Qi and blood. Such syndromes include anemia, liver, kidney and lung problems, as well as infertility.

placenta

Even though the human placenta has been used for so long in TCM, it is still a fairly new practice in North America. The first documented occurrence of placenta ingestion in North America was in the 1970’s, although it is very difficult to find detailed information. According to Young and Benyshek, the practice was promoted by Midwives in Texas in the 1970’s. Over the past 45+ years, the practice has become considerably more popular, with the largest growth in practice being within the last decade. Finding someone to encapsulate your placenta nowadays is pretty easy, whereas even seven years ago it was pretty challenging (depending on your location of course).

The increase in placenta ingestion can potentially be accredited to the increase of information sharing and the easy access to articles, testimonials, and services available on the internet. It is pretty amazing what you can find with just a simple Google search. That said, anyone and their dog (although it would have to be an extremely skilled dog) can make a web site, so it’s important to seek out credible sources, particularly when looking at something somewhat controversial like placenta encapsulation.

So why on earth would you want to encapsulate your placenta? I’m going to make it easy here, and list the benefits in point form:

  • Increase in energy
  • Increase in milk production
  • Decrease fatigue
  • Decreased likelihood of baby blues and post-partum depression
  • Replenish depleted iron
  • Composed of your own natural hormones, making it easier for your body to absorb
  • Lessen postnatal bleeding
  • Help the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size
  • Can be kept and used for future stressful events like moving or menopause.

I knew I wanted to encapsulate my placenta with my fourth baby after speaking with Jodi Selander at the Gentle Birth World Congress. I had experienced post-partum depression (PPD) quite terribly following my previous three births, and I had no reason to expect this would be any different. However, I was not able to find anyone to encapsulate my placenta. I did not end up encapsulating it, and then proceeded to experience what I would call my worst case of PPD to date. It was then that I decided to learn about the art of encapsulating placentas. I wanted to make the service available to ensure that women who were in the same position as myself had options.

Since offering my services, I have received so much positive feedback. Many mothers have come to me excited to share their experience with placenta pills and their post-partum healing. One mother told me that she felt even better than she had prior to becoming pregnant with her first child years before, and that she had struggled with depression ever since then. I love hearing stories like that.

PlacentaCapsulesSmall

If you’ve decided to encapsulate your placenta, I would recommend finding an encapsulator who has done extensive research and training (cough cough, me if you’re in Calgary, wink wink), and ask as many questions as you need. A few examples of questions include:

  • How long have you been encapsulating placentas?
  • What process do you use to encapsulate placentas?
  • Have you taken the Bloodborne pathogen training in accordance with OSHA?
  • What training specific to placenta encapsulation have you taken?
  • Where will you be encapsulating my placenta?
  • Do you have vegan safe caps available? (if you’re vegan)
  • How do I store my placenta after birth until you pick it up?
  • Wait, you do pick up, right?
  • When can I expect to receive my placenta back in pill form?

The person you choose to encapsulate your placenta should have no problem answering those questions, and it should help you pick someone who will provide the service you desire. If you’d like to see my answers to all these questions, please check out my FAQ page.

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I hope you enjoyed reading all about placenta encapsulation, and if you have any questions whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

References

1. Hijikata Y, Kano T, Xi L. Treatment for intractable anemia with the traditional Chinese medicines Hominis Placenta and Cervi Cornus Colla (deer antler glue) Int J Gen Med2009;2:83–90.

2. http://www.tcmtreatment.com/herbs/0-ziheche.htm

3. Ober WB. Notes on placentophagy. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1979;55(6):591-599.

4. Young, Sharon M. and Benyshek, Daniel C.(2010) ‘In Search of Human Placentophagy: A Cross Cultural Survey of Human Placenta Consumption, Disposal Practices, and Cultural Beliefs’, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 49: 6, 467-484

5. http://www.placentabenefits.info

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Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta WHAT?!  Yep, you read it right.  Placenta Encapsulation.

In September 2007 I attended the Gentle Birth World Congress in Portland, Oregon where I was awed and inspired by hundreds of passionate people and amazing speakers from all over the world.  I can honestly say I think that conference changed my life.  While I was already a birth advocate and already held my beliefs about birth, it was there that I realized my calling as a servant to birth, as a doula and eventually as a Midwife.

Part of the conference was a free Baby Expo where Portland locals flocked and conference participants could attend during certain times.  I wandered around being lured every which way to booths that I fell in love with.  I left there with several videos, books and also my birth pool.  I was walking down an isle and this woman approached me and said, “Oh, you’re pregnant!  You have to hear about placentas!!”.  Oh ya, by the way, I was pregnant at the time.  So I went to the Placenta Benefits booth and had a good chat with Jodi Selander.  I had already heard about placenta ingestion, but the encapsulation bit was new to me and Jodi was so passionate!

Taking your placenta in pill form is such an amazing way to avoid postpartum depression and regain your physical and mental health naturally after childbirth.  It has been shown to improve milk supply, decrease fatigue, improve positive maternal behaviors and has been argued to be the evolutionary solution to the RH- factor.

I left the conference feeling like placenta encapsulation was a real option for me and when I got home I began my research.  Unfortunately for me, no one locally provided the encapsulation services and I was not able to do it.  I was not prepared to do it myself in the first few days postpartum and therefore was unable to reap the placenta benefits.

As a mother who has struggled with postpartum depression in the past, I probably should have seen what was to come.  I had my baby and soon after I sunk in to postpartum depression.  With therapy and several diet changes and trips to the ND, I was able to pull through but  I can only imagine what my postpartum time would have looked like had I encapsulated my placenta.  I vowed to find a way to make the service available.  It is a natural practice that is practiced my mammals all over the world.  Placenta is a key ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and now… can be available for you.  I have been trained through PBi and I am now a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist.

If you would like more information on the process, please contact me!

info@earthybirthydoula.com