Why I Won't Be Eating My Placenta
I really thought I was going to do it. I even told my mom it was happening - who yelled "you're going to do WHAT?!" as I pulled the phone away from my ear.
My google searches were for local doulas who could encapsulate it for me. And I was learning exactly how to get the placenta from the hospital to the doula.
With anything related to our health, I like to do my research and weigh all sides before making a firm decision. I heard so much about why women eat their placenta and was curious about the proposed benefits.
Eating the placenta after giving birth derives from Chinese medicine and is a big thing among the doula and midwives communities. Claims state it can help with:
2. Reduce bleeding after giving birth
3. Increase milk supply
4. Better mood and energy
It's said to help replace hormones and vitamins lost after having a baby. Which can help your body re-regulate after your hormone levels decline post birth. This is where it's believed to help with your mood and energy after what is a stressful time for women's bodies.
Knowing I'm very sensitive to hormone swings, I was open to alternative ways that could help support me during this time.
Eating the placenta (or taking it in capsule form, which is what I would have done) seemed like a great option in smoothing out the postpartum blues.
Until I talked with my midwife.
For all of my prenatal care I have exclusively been working with a midwife within our healthcare system. As long as my pregnancy and delivery stays low risk, we will not be seeing a doctor. Our provider is set up where I will labor in a birthing center, within a hospital setting, which felt like the safest option for me.
At one of my appointments in the second trimester, we had an open conversation about consuming the placenta after birth.
She wanted to know why first.
My main reason was to fend off postpartum depression since it was something my mother struggled with and I use to have PMDD.
My midwife shared that the fact I'm talking about postpartum depression now, asking the right questions, and even telling my husband what to look out for, she said I'd be less likely to experience it.
Which was comforting.
She then shared her philosophy on consuming the placenta, which was different from other midwives. She believes the organ is taken out of your body for a reason and is not meant to go back in.
....which was exactly my mother's argument.
My midwife sent me home with a bit of reading around not eating the placenta, which really swayed my decision. The hormones said to go back into the body are the same ones produced for breast milk and bonding with your baby. Since I plan on breastfeeding and soaking up as many baby cuddles as possible, it didn't seem necessary.
There also is not enough research to state whether consuming the placenta has any real benefit. And I like to have scientific fact to back up claims on anything I do for my health, especially at a time where my body will continue to care for a newborn.
Lastly, to cover all my bases, I talked with my one friend who did eat her placenta. She said she had to stop after 3 days because the added hormones made her milk supply come in too quickly. Her milk ducts got blocked and she said it was more painful than her natural childbirth to unblock them...
After seeing both sides, hearing from a friend who has tried it and the research my midwife shared with me, I will not be consuming my placenta.
I revisited my strategy around bouncing back after baby (which includes managing mood and stress) and will focus on my diet, exercise, and supplement regimen instead.
I have already start this by revisiting my Supplement Guide from my PMDD Program, which smoothed out some mood issues I noticed at the start of the third trimester (postpartum depression can start showing up during pregnancy).
Before they throw out the placenta, I do want to see it though! You literally create an organ that took care of your baby for 9 months, which I find fascinating.
What are your thoughts? Yay or nay on consuming the placenta?