|The "Tree of Life" that nourished Little Owl for nine months|
Animals, including most primates, do it. Women in Hollywood do it. Traditional Chinese medicine does it.
Hopefully none of those arguments convince you.
Especially not the second one.
What is it?
Prior to becoming the "afterbirth" the placenta (often referred to as the "tree of life") has already done a lot of work. Growing, nourishing and sustaining a being for nine months is no small task (just ask any women who has a baby). As a working organ the placenta contains (among many other good things) high levels of prostaglandin and oxytocin. Prostaglandin helps clean out the uterus post birth, shrinking it back to its normal size. Oxytocin, "the love hormone" does everything from easing stress, to promoting bonding, to stimulating milk letdown in mammals (the same hormone is released when you make a baby, have a baby, and take care of a baby--kind of neat, huh?).
However, just because the placenta contains these hormones and just because these hormones do these things does not mean that eating your placenta does these things. Get it? Correlation does not necessarily equal causation.
Should you do it?
Now, the real question is, should you do it? I did. I know other pregnant women who did. I know women who wouldn't dream of it, women who are planning on doing it and women who tried but had (they think) negative reactions. Despite lack of convincing evidence that it would do anything, I decided to give it a try.
Here is are my thoughts on it: If you were healthy prior to becoming pregnant, had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby, your placenta has already done a lot of work. The question is, whether or not it is capable of doing more work. If some women experience negative reactions to eating it while others swear by it, what is going on? Well, I am not a scientist and I am not sure. But, I do know that when I took my placenta pills post-pregnancy I felt better. If I hadn't I wouldn't have kept taking them. If I had felt worse I would have stopped.
Was it a placebo effect? Maybe. Would I do it again? Yes. Why? Because even if it was a placebo effect it worked. I took it in encapsulated form (thanks to my dear friend, Diana, for preparing it!).
|The placenta encapsulated|
After Little Owl was born I took it whenever I began to feel depressed, anxious or weepy. Within a half-hour of consumption those negative thoughts and feelings would dissipate. So, yes, I am adding my anecdote to the pro-placentophagy group. But, no, I do not swear by it. In fact, it would have been interesting to know if I would have felt differently if they had just been placebo pills! Sometimes (though definitely not always) it seems like all it takes to get over a down day is the courage and determination to say "ok, I'm going to do (x) and it's going to get better". If you do (x) and it gets better, was it because of (x) or because of the determination to get better? You tell me. I'm really not sure. (The whole correlation/causation thing again.)
How to do it
If you are interested there are a lot of recipes online for how to prepare a placenta for consumption. Keep in mind it is very important to process it immediately after giving birth (aka momma, you can't do it for yourself you need to have someone else). Some women drink it in smoothies, have it in soup, lasagne or spaghetti. Give me a little break. I'm not that crunchy. It was my first time. Maybe I could have done a smoothie, but compared to a lot of the options options out there pills sounded great.
Now, I do have to add a few disclaimers. If you weren't healthy prior to pregnancy, had complications with your pregnancy or with your birth, I do not recommend even thinking of trying it. If you do decide to take it and have (even seeming) negative reactions, stop. What would be the point of continuing?
But, if you do decide to give it a go, let me know what you think. After all, if the baby blues can be avoided maybe it's worth a try.
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