The placenta is an incredible organ that our bodies create solely during pregnancy (beginning around week 4-5 and fully by week 10-12). This organ is a part of the endocrine system and begins to take over the production and exchange of hormones throughout pregnancy. Beyond its hormonal role, the placenta and umbilical cord connect the parent and baby, allowing nutrients, oxygen and waste products to be exchanged throughout pregnancy.
This amazing organ has been honored for thousands of years. Some cultural practices have encouraged sacred burial ceremonies while others have encouraged consumption of the placenta, or placentophagy (pronounced: pla-Sen-tow-Fah-gee). Only in recent human history have we begun disposing of the placenta as a “waste” item.
As cultural integration and informational exchange has broadened our awareness and understanding of birth practices, there has been a resurgence of placentophagy. While there are many resources available identifying placenta use throughout history, there is now research available regarding the nutritional and physiological benefits of placentophagy. Longitudinal studies are currently under way to further support the effects of placentophagy.
Typically, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland regulate our hormones. During pregnancy the placenta takes over regulating our reproductive hormones and they increase three-times their normal rate. After the baby is born and the placenta is delivered, the body’s hormone levels drop below its normal level (the most drastic drop happening around day 4 or 5 postpartum). After a 9 month hiatus, the pituitary gland needs to take over regulating the hormonal exchange. The time necessary for this rebalance varies between individuals. It is normal to experience a range of emotions during this time, from joy to sadness and bursts of energy to complete fatigue. Compounded by the demands of a newborn, this time of hormonal re-balance can be draining physically and emotionally.
As an endocrine organ, the placenta contains all of the birth giver’s natural hormones…created for and by their own bodies. Additionally, it is rich in Iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 & Zinc.
The placenta, contained in capsule form, is believed to:
be perfectly made for you and your body’s needs
replenish depleted Iron
give you more energy
lessen bleeding postnatally
increase milk production
help you have a more enjoyable postpartum period
hasten return of the uterus to its pre-pregnancy state
be helpful during menopause
As a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (PBi), I prepare your placenta to be consumed in the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach. This method includes steaming, dehydrating and encapsulating the placenta into easy-to-consume vegetable capsules. Placenta Encapsulation is just one aspect of postpartum care. Nourishing foods and herbs can support the hormonal and emotional transition often experienced after the birth of a child and the assistance of a postpartum doula can offer you even more physical and emotional support within the home.