I have worked with pregnant people and new moms since 2012 and have been encapsulating placentas since 2015, so when I became pregnant and gave birth to my son, Sonny, in 2017, I of course planned on encapsulating and consuming my own placenta. I had prepared dozens of placentas in Austin, Texas and had been hearing just how wonderful and helpful encapsulation was, and I was excited to utilize the benefits myself. The most common reported benefits of placenta encapsulation are increased milk supply and energy, feeling more balanced and less weepy, having less bleeding and a faster recovery... and overall, just feeling better. I'll admit that after giving birth I had a twinge of fear- What if my placenta didn't really help me? What if the effects are placebo? I was worried that I wouldn't feel any benefit, and because I refuse to lie to my wonderful clients, I would have to stop encapsulating placentas. Thank goodness, that didn't happen!
The first few days after giving birth I chose to have raw placenta smoothies. Because the placenta needs to be cleaned, cut, and frozen within four hours after giving birth to ensure food safety, this isn't a service that I don't typically offer to clients, but it's a great choice if you give birth at home since your placenta can be rinsed and cut up in your own kitchen by your partner or midwife. After my home birth, my husband cut up my placenta and froze individual, strawberry sized pieces in our deep freeze. Each day, he'd pop a piece into my smoothie and blend it up. And let me tell you... that sh*t WORKED. Almost a little too well! After having my placenta smoothie I felt a lot of energy- like I'd had one too many cups of coffee. This would be great if you can clean your house or host a party, but not ideal when you're in bed with a newborn battling first-time-mom-anxiety. I've talked to several women who did all smoothies with their placenta and loved it- it just wasn't for me.
No longer wanting to feel like I was on speed while also recovering in bed with my snuggly new 9 lb 9 oz boyfriend, I opted for encapsulation. Two weeks after Sonny was born I managed to finally encapsulate my own placenta (something I had been looking forward to for years!) I thawed, cleaned, steamed, dehydrated overnight, and then ground up and encapsulated my placenta. I opted for flavored capsules (half mint, half strawberry!) and happily took my first dose.
Here's how I describe the experience: You know how sometimes you wake up exhausted and cranky and totally overwhelmed by life and all you want is that first cup of coffee and then you know you'll at least be okay? My placenta pills were like my coffee. They took the edge off, gave me a bit more energy, and generally just helped me feel better. Life with a newborn was a little less overwhelming and I just felt like I could actually do it. There are lots of promises out there about placenta encapsulation, but the truth is, life with a new baby is hard. Sometimes it's really fucking hard. Especially when your partner is back to work (mine was back at two days), finances are tight (yes, very), and breastfeeding is difficult. Newborn life can be even more difficult with traumatic birth experiences or stays in the NICU. So, placenta encapsulation did not necessarily make my postpartum period easier, but my pills absolutely helped me to better cope with the major transition into motherhood that can at times be overwhelming.
I did have a robust milk supply, minimal bleeding, and a super fast physical recovery and I could truly feel a difference when I forgot to take my capsules those first few weeks. Along with extra postnatal support (partner, grandma, doula, friends, mom group, etc) and a commitment to truly rest and recover (keep your butt in bed!), I know that my placenta pills truly aided my recovery in a way that no other supplement could have in the first couple months after giving birth.
I'm Colleen. Mommma. Birth, breastfeeding, pregnancy, placenta lover. Sleep Deprived.