I birthed my placenta by coughing.
No joke! When it came time to push my placenta out, I felt like I plum didn't have any muscles left to do the pushing. I tried, but it didn't work very well.
Then my midwife told me to cough. That did the trick! Out it came!
And just like that, I wasn't pregnant anymore.
As soon as my placenta made its debut to the outside world, my midwife gave us a “tour”. She showed us the little spots of calcification that meant my placenta was aging at 39 weeks and 5 days old. She also showed us my notably short and thick cord.
Then we sealed it in its biohazard container, stuck it in the freezer, and forgot about it for a few weeks until I was suitably recovered enough to take the next step:
As you probably know, you encapsulate to preserve and then eat your placenta!
But there's a bit of controversy concerning this. On the one hand, the placenta nourishes the baby, so proponents of encapsulation say that it can nourish new moms during the fragile postpartum time as well. Many other mammals eat their placentas (although there's little evidence that traditional human cultures regularly did so)!
On the other hand, during pregnancy, the placenta also filtered out toxins so they wouldn't reach the baby. These toxins leave with the placenta once a woman gives birth, but they must return if the woman eats her placenta.
There's anecdotal evidence to support both sides. Some women, after eating their placenta, report more energy, more breast milk, and a better mood (source and source). Some women report the opposite — almost nervous, agitated energy, and depression (source and source).
So, which is it? Do the proposed benefits (milk and energy) outweigh the risks (toxins)? Do the nutrients in the placenta even survive preparation?
Unfortunately, for all the anecdotal evidence, there has yet to be a comprehensive scientific study to cast a verdict. This study did find that some hormones survived placenta preparation and encapsulation in big enough amounts to conceivably benefit the mother, but we still need more evidence, especially regarding the risks.
In light of all of this, I still decided to give placentophagy (eating my placenta) a try. If I felt worse, I would stop. If not, I'd continue.
How Did It Go?
I started with 2 capsules taken in the morning. After 2 days and feeling the exact same as I had before taking my placenta, I upped my dose to 3 capsules.
That third day, I was pretty weepy. I'd gone through some of the so-called “baby blues” during my first week postpartum, but since then had been my relatively happy self. So this was different.
I decided to see if I could replicate the weepiness the next day, again taking 3 capsules. No such luck. I was back to feeling the same. And I've been taking 3 capsules a day ever since!
How To Encapsulate Your Placenta
First, take the placenta out of its storage container. Cut the cord and amniotic sac off and set aside. Rinse the placenta under cool water until most of the blood is gone. Then transfer the placenta to a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut it into thin strips or chunks.
Fill a lined dehydrator tray with placenta strips. Repeat until all the strips are on trays. Carry to the dehydrator and slide inside. Put the lid on and set to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (this means the placenta will no longer be raw — it must be kept under 115 degrees Fahrenheit to be raw), checking occasionally until strips are crispy. They shouldn't be bendy at all. My placenta took about 16 hours to dry completely.
Once dry, store in an airtight container until ready to encapsulate, or move on to the next step!
Whiz dry placenta strips in a high-powered blender until ground into a fine powder. Once ground but before opening the lid, you may want to let the dust settle for a bit. Then, using a capsule machine, fill capsules with placenta powder. My placenta yielded 90 capsules.
And that's it! Pretty easy!
Before I wrap up, let's talk about 1 more thing…
Histamine Intolerance & What It Has To Do With My Placenta
On April 18th, I discovered a faint red rash on my midriff and in my elbows. I forgot about it till a week and a half later, when it started spreading like wild fire. It went up my shoulders and around my neck, and soon got bumpy and terribly itchy.
Then my friend (read: adopted aunt) Megan Stevens suggested it might be caused by histamine intolerance…
You can read all about histamine and what it does here, but to put it in a nut shell: Histamine is an important chemical produced by our bodies or eaten in foods. If present in excess, it can trigger symptoms such as itching, hives, swelling, increased heart rate, etc.
And that is where I found myself on April 18th.
Why, though? This is my theory…
During pregnancy, the placenta produces an enzyme called diamine oxydase (DAO). This enzyme breaks down excess histamine in our bodies. (Source.)
Now that I am newly postpartum, I suddenly don't have my placenta creating plenty of DAO anymore. My progesterone and estrogen levels just plummeted, too — and progesterone upregulates DAO (source). Finally, my midwife pointed out that my immune system has changed drastically due to pregnancy.
These factors combined with my diet of histamine-rich foods like ferments led, most likely, to my rash.
To treat it, I changed my diet (see here and here for a list of histamine-rich foods). I also continued taking my placenta capsules, since they supposedly contain DAO. I do wonder, however, if DAO was destroyed while dehydrating my placenta, or if it even survives the digestive tract. But it's worth a shot!
For a month, I slowly experimented with introducing foods back into my diet. As of May 22nd, I'm back to drinking my beloved kefir again — and eating normally!
Did you encapsulate your placenta? How did it make you feel?
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