Sunday, March 9, 2014

Placenta Encapsulation

I'm about 3 weeks post-partum and have I mentioned that I feel great?

When I had my son, I wasn't ready to be a mother.  I had no idea what I was doing, I had just graduated law-school, I was broke, and having to work from home part-time at 3 weeks post-partum.  I went through a grueling 14 hour labor and delivered a 9lb 7oz baby.  I had a lot of stitches and I partook in all of the pain meds they gave me on a strict regimen until they were all gone.  I remember my doctor asking me at less than 2 weeks post-partum if I had any left (I had come down with mastitis and needed some pain relief), and I hadn't.  I had spent that time in a haze.  I started full-time employment about 2.5 months later and I was not ready for all that came with my new life.  

Before long, I started having panic attacks, completely overwhelmed with everything that was coming at me (my son was very colicky, my job was hard, and I just didn't feel like I was doing well at any of it!)  About 18 months later, I started taking anxiety medication and while the panic attacks stopped, my personality completely changed, I lost a ton of weight, and I went through a serious crisis where I wanted to throw it all away because it was too much to handle.  Thanks to the love and devotion of my wonderful husband, I quit taking medication and was able to change my outlook, and my life.  A few months later, I quit my job and started a new job at a huge pay cut.  It still took awhile, but after a short while, I had made new friends, and started feeling like myself again.  Not too long after, we decided to have another baby.  

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I made a conscious decision to do things differently this time.  While I wasn't saying no to an epidural, I was refusing any medication stronger than ibuprofen and resolved to keep active, stay positive, and not let myself fall into post-partum depression. About a month before I delivered, I talked to a friend about how she had encapsulated her placenta.  She swore by it, and said that it helps with post-partum depression and that it also helped with milk production.  She gave me the name of her doula who encapsulated hers and the price was reasonable.  Since I wanted to do anything I could to avoid the post-partum depression road again, I decided to try it.

As a side note, the same week, a colleague told me, and showed me pictures of his wife's placenta.  She delivered at home, and she just chopped hers up and threw it in a smoothie.  I definitely couldn't do that (and he reported she didn't last very long).

When I told my doctor, he didn't laugh, but he did say that there wasn't real science behind it and it seemed sort of "cannibalistic."  He did mention that lots of people were doing it, and that people say it works.  He also recommended taking 1000mg of fish oil a day to help combat post-partum depression.  My regime since delivery has been a pre-natal vitamin and the fish oil in the evening and my placenta tablet and B-12 in the morning.  So far so good.  I have  a ton of energy and no depression or anxiety.

Of course, I did some research before I invested the money into this odd practice.  Aside from the fact that most animals eat their placenta and hospitals just throw it away--one reason you should consider it (in contrast, some animals eat their placenta not for the health benefits but so that predators can't smell it), there were people singing praise all over the internets.  Aside from one article, I found no negative feedback, and ultimately concluded that no harm could come from at least trying it.

The primary reasons for trying it-- think about it, your body's hormones are all out of whack after you give birth.  The placenta capsules help balance that all out.  They help with milk production.  They help your body recover quickly after birth (I looked back to my normal size within a week).   They help with energy levels.  All of these things have proven true for me.  As an aside, you can save the pills for menopause.  (Although I don't think mine will last that long).

I would recommend placenta encapsulation to any of my pregnant friends.  It's totally worth it!

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