What is Placentophagy?
Placentophagy is the practice of eating one’s own placenta. The placenta is packed with vitamins, minerals and hormones that help restore the mother’s body after birth.
At Lotus, we recently celebrated our 100th placenta encapsulation service in Bermuda. And while this milestone may indicate a growing desire for the service, there are still many people and communities that regard placentophagy with apprehension. The biggest and most common criticism is that the benefits aren’t proven.
You can see this sentiment reflected here by the author of a 2015 study on Placentophagy by Northwestern University: “There hasn’t been any systemic research investigating the benefits or the risk of placenta ingestion. The studies on mice aren’t translatable to human benefits.”
Western apprehension is distinctive from Eastern acceptance (especially in China), where placentophagy is relatively common. There, the practice dates back over 2,000 years! Over time this practice has become more popularized in the west. This is largely due to the noteworthy testimonials that are regularly reported by practitioners (new mamas!).
How it Works
It would be a mistake to imagine a mother consuming her placenta raw. (Although, there are the random few that give this a try!) As humans, we hardly ever consume raw meat because of the inherent risks, such as parasites and disease. Instead, the placenta is stored and prepared much like meat we normally consume. (If you’re vegetarian, imagine cooked tofu-steak instead!)
Immediately after the placenta is expelled from the body, it must be refrigerated or placed in a freezer – depending on how quickly it will be encapsulated. When the cooking process begins, the placenta is thawed, steamed, and dehydrated in an oven. Once it’s dry, it is ground into a powdery substance. The powder is separated into capsules for the mother’s safe consumption to aid postpartum recovery. You can see an example of the entire process here.
The Top 5 Benefits Reported by Our Clients
Before having our first child, we may be naïve about the birthing process. Most of us imagine labor and birth to be the hardest part – and we may find ourselves focusing all of our energies there. And while this part is more physically intensive than other stages, it’s certainly not the end of our journey. Because of the physical strains caused by labor, the body requires yet another stage: recovery.
Postpartum (post-birth) recovery is key to entering motherhood mentally, spiritually and physically in tact. And at Lotus, we’ve seen our clients experience major benefits from placentophagy over and over again.
Here are the top 5 benefits that our clients have discovered with placentophagy:
1. Renewed Energy
Whew! Remember when we all thought running a marathon was difficult – maybe even impossible? Nothing seems impossible after giving birth. It’s a beautiful miracle that requires physical and mental determination – and energy! After birth many new mommies find that their energy levels are depleted. How could they not be?
This is where the placenta’s vitamins and hormones come in handy. Our clients have reported greater energy levels and a quicker recovery – either compared to past deliveries and/or compared the postpartum health of friends and relatives who hadn’t consumed the placenta. After all, the placenta “contains thyroid stimulating hormones and interferon, which can boost the immune system, energy and recovery.” The placenta also has cortisone, which is known to reduce inflammation and swelling, and promote healing.
2. Reduced Stress Levels
One of the most common “warnings” I heard from others before I had my first child was, “You won’t sleep for two years.” These words proved true. However, whereas I had previously experienced moodiness and stress after a poor night’s sleep, I found myself adjusting pleasantly (well, maybe “pleasantly” is a strong word!) to my new sleep schedule (or lack of schedule).
After I talked to other mothers, I found that those who had practiced placentophagy had positively adjusted, as well. These mothers reported lower levels of stress and irritability than their counterparts. This result is greatly due to oxytocin, found in the placenta, which counteracts the production of stress hormones and increases bonding in mother and child.
3. Decreased Postpartum Depression Levels
The “Baby Blues” – We’ve all heard of them and we all want to avoid them. Understanding why they originate is key to combating them.
After birth, there are often deficiencies in the body that the placenta can aid. For example, research suggests there’s a link between iron deficiency and post partum depression – and we know the placenta is high in iron. Eating the placenta helps to offset our shortage. The placenta is also packed with estrogen and progesterone, important postpartum hormones for stabilizing postpartum mood, normalizing the libido and reducing post-birth uterine cramping.
4. Increased Milk Production
Our milk production is largely dependent on the hormone prolactin. And yes you’ve guessed right – the placenta is packed with this hormone! Many of our clients reported increased levels of breast-milk supply. And remember the estrogen and progesterone hormones mentioned in the section above? Those also contribute to mammary gland development in preparation for lactation.
This is further supported by The American Journal of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children: “It has been shown that the feeding of desiccated placenta to women during the first eleven days causes an increase in the protein and lactose percent of the milk.”
5. Enhanced Nails, Skin and Hair
Many of the hormones that promote healing also have growth-promoting properties, including the hormone Human Placental Lactogen, which regulates maternal glucose, protein and fat levels (and it also has lactogenic properties!).
From our community at Lotus, we’ve heard great success stories. We’re practitioners ourselves and we’re happy to provide both personal and client testimonies. We provide placenta encapsulation and additional services to ensure that new mamas have access to safe and natural journey into motherhood and beyond.
Give us a call at 296-5900 for any questions that you may have. We are here to support YOU.