Why Would I Eat That?
When most people hear about placenta encapsulation, their first response is frequently “Why??” with a disgusted look on their face. Admittedly, the first time I read about it, I thought tomyself, “I would never do that! What sane person would choose to eat her placenta?”
Turns out, almost every other mammal does, herbivores and carnivores alike. Most mammals go out of their way to consume their placenta with great enthusiasm after the birth of their baby, frequently taking hours to do so. They sometimes even delay caring for the baby to satisfy this instinctual need.
I’ve heard it argued that animals do this to clean their nest sites, in an effort to avoid predators, but this is not true. Even top predators like lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), who have no one to fear, eat their placentas. Animals like deer and giraffes, whose young can get up immediately and walk away, also eat their placentas rather than just moving away from the nest site. They do not bother to clean up the blood and other fluids left from the birth.
If not for cleanliness or safety, then why are mammals consuming their afterbirth? Placentophagy — eating one’s own afterbirth — must have some other evolutionary purpose. Even so, a discussion of other mammals and evolution may not convince you that we, as humans, should consume our placentas. After a ll, we are a species apart. We wear clothes and live in buildings and cook our meat. We write poetry and build cathedrals. We fall in love. As a rule we do not smell each other’s butts or pick ticks off one another.
Our progress in medicine and hygiene is marvelous (who wants cholera?), indeed, but there are some things we’ve lost, or broken, when it comes to natural, instinctive care for ourselves. There are things we can find again or restore by careful study of the world and our place in it.
We know from watching other mammals give birth that childbirth is a normal, natural process, rather than the medically-managed mess we have made it. An elephant does not lie passively on her back while a doctor pulls her baby out with forceps. Nature teaches us that the essentials for giving birth are quiet, darkness, and safety. Animals seek out that quiet, dark, safe space and when they find it, they birth their babies. After giving birth, they consume their placenta.
Have you ever seen a placenta? They are cool — really cool!
The placenta is the only organ that belongs to two people at the same time. It literally contains half the mother’s blood and half the baby’s blood, and is unique to every mother and baby. The placenta acts as a barrier between the two separate bodies, transferring oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood to the baby, and has the ability to pick and choose what it takes from the mother based on the baby’s needs at that moment. It also produces a cocktail of hormones necessary to sustain a pregnancy and grow a healthy baby, including progesterone, estrogen, cortisone, interferon, POEF (placenta opioid enhancing factor), oxytocin, and HPL (human
placental lactogen). Aside from sustaining the pregnancy, these hormones fight stress, stimulate the immune system, stimulate iron production, lessen bleeding, and stimulate mammary function and milk production.
The placenta is the epitome of how amazing our bodies and the process of carrying and birthing. However, when we birth the placenta, all the hormones and nutrients produced by the placenta leave our body. It can take months for the brain and body to level out the hormones. Most other mammals counteract this by eating their placentas, why can’t we?
We can. By encapsulating the placenta and taking the pills postpartum, we can reintroduce those hormones in small amounts, weaning off of them until the mother’s hormones level out on their own.
But wait, there’s more! The placenta is also extremely rich in iron, which is frequently deficient in a postpartum mother. Iron deficiency is linked to fatigue and is a contributing factor in postpartum depression. HPL and prolactin present in the placenta help establish a healthy milk supply. Eating a piece of raw placenta during a postpartum hemorrhage has been effective at lessening or stopping the bleeding. POEF has been shown to increase the effectiveness of opioids, allowing the mother to take less medication post-birth, which can be important after a cesarean birth.
There are no reported negative side-effects to taking the placenta.
But maybe it is a bit much to ask civilized folk — even strong, capable women committed to experiencing childbirth naturally — to eat their own organ raw. Or even cooked. Let’s be real here.
That is the beauty of encapsulation. A professional takes your placenta, dehydrates it (losing none of the beneficial properties), and turns it into a jar of pills you can pop with your daily vitamins. I can even make a beautiful placenta print for you!
Your hormones balanced, your bleeding under control, your iron restored, your milk flowing, your skin aglow. Think of it as Vitamin You.
In light of all the benefits, why wouldn’t you eat that?
by Melanie Nasmyth, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist