One of our London Placenta Remedies Specialists, Maggie of A la carte doula introduces her daughter, Hannah’s birth story, which shows how important it is for the mum to feel nurtured after birth.
“This is the story of my daughter’s journey from motherhood to placentophagy and, since then, on to becoming a lovely Doula who I know will be a wonderful support to the women of Glasgow.”
I wasn’t expecting to consume my placenta!
The subject of consuming your own placenta tends to bring out some pretty extreme reactions in people ranging from ‘That’s disgusting!’ through to ‘Why?’ and ‘Oh yes I wish I had done that!’. Personally, I was sitting somewhere in the middle – I knew about the practice long before my first pregnancy as my mother is a Doula offering a placenta encapsulation service. Having a scientific background myself, I wanted to hear about the evidence. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot but as with so many natural remedies, the lack of evidence doesn’t mean they don’t work – it just means no big drugs companies have funded research into their benefits.
So, what are the arguments for and against? Some say it’s an incredibly nutritious snack, containing Iron, Vitamins B6, and Vitamin E to replenish the mother’s depleted stores lost during childbirth. The counter argument is that as we don’t live in the wild and have everything we need available at the supermarket, then why would you?
Placentas also include Stem Cells, Growth Factors, Oxytocin hormone – essential for facilitating birth and breastfeeding, Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) – responsible for reducing stress levels; cytokines – Fibroblasts that trigger cell metabolism healing and replacing damaged cells and tissue, none of which are found in a beef steak from ASDA. How much benefit these have when eaten is unclear, but they are reported to reduce post-birth bleeding, encourage a quick and healthy milk supply, balance hormonal peaks and troughs, reduce stress levels, prevent the baby blues and postnatal depression, boost energy to cope with a busy day after little sleep and improve the appearance of skin / hair / nails.
Did I take up my Mum’s offer?
I wasn’t keen in all honesty – I used to be a vegetarian and although I have eaten meat for the last 10 years, I just didn’t fancy it. I had a beautiful home birth with no complications, but I did lose about 750ml blood which is a little more than average and I did feel very weak immediately after the birth and for a couple of days after. I felt light headed every time I stood up to walk to the toilet. My midwife pleaded with me to let my mum make me a smoothie. I felt so rotten who was I to argue? It certainly wouldn’t do any harm.
Mum made me a smoothie every day for the next 3 days. A large glassful each containing just a spoonful of placenta and loads of fresh fruit. It didn’t really taste any different to any other smoothie I’ve ever had – some people say it tastes slightly metallic, but I couldn’t honestly taste it and when you make it with plenty of summer berries it doesn’t look any different either. Did I feel better? Well yes over the next 3 days I started to feel loads better and my breastfeeding got off to an excellent start. How different that would have been if I hadn’t had the smoothie I really couldn’t say; I don’t have any other experience with which to compare. My mum stayed to look after us for the next 2 weeks and her care and excellent cooking also helped to make them the best 2 weeks of my life. 17 months on and I am still breastfeeding on demand. Long term breastfeeding is much more likely when women get good support from the start so I’m pretty sure I can thank Mum for that one!
On day 3 a different midwife visited and prescribed iron tablets as, even though I was feeling much better – I was still technically anaemic. I took them for a couple of weeks but stopped long before I’d finished the box because they made me feel terrible.
Mum made me placenta capsules too and when I felt a bit low, I did take them. Again, I haven’t got any other experience to compare this with, but they certainly didn’t do any harm, and something made me dig them out of the cupboard every now and then. The capsules don’t keep forever so Mum also made a tincture (alcohol base infused with placenta), you can’t tell it’s got placenta in and I add a few drops to a glass of water when my daughter goes through a growth spurt or is teething (for my sleeplessness not hers!).
Did you know many of the more expensive hand and face creams contain animal placenta, usually sheep’s? The evidence again is weak but if there are any benefits surely our own placentas will bring just the same if not more benefits than farm animals??
So, I remain very open minded and can reassure anyone considering placenta encapsulation that it’s not nearly as gross as you might expect!
With thanks to Hannah for sharing her Birth Story. Hannah Kemlo has now trained as a Doula in Glasgow, Scotland and can be found here at kemlodoula.com on email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook @Hannah-Kemlo-Doula.