Six Weeks of Placenta Pills: What’s My Take on It?
When I published that post back in December, I had no idea what my experience with the pills would be. I hoped for some positive results but tried to remain fully open to the possibility that placenta encapsulation would have no effect on me whatsoever. (I wanted to do my best to give an honest review of the process, after all!)
Now that I’ve been consuming my placenta pills for roughly six weeks, however, I can say that I am personally sold on the process. And while I might not be able to point to specific circumstances and say, “Aha! That is DEFINITELY a product of the placenta pills and NOTHING ELSE,” I can say that my initial postpartum period has been different enough from the other two to warrant a heartfelt endorsement of placenta encapsulation.
So what was the actual encapsulation like?
After my midwives examined my placenta, we double-bagged it and put it in the fridge. (This totally freaked out my youngest sister. WELCOME TO MY HOME, THERE’S A BIRTH POOL IN THE LIVING ROOM AND A PLACENTA IN THE FRIDGE! Heh heh.)
A couple days later, Kelsie arrived at the house to begin the encapsulation.
I relished the opportunity to observe the encapsulation process. (Hormonal me even felt a twinge of sadness at having to say “goodbye” to my last placenta. Yes, I am a sad, sad sap.) I watched as she drained the placenta of blood, cut away the membranes, and prepared the placenta for dehydration and encapsulation. And while I can totally understand why some people would want to avert their eyes, birth nerd me found this all to be utterly fascinating.
The next morning, Kelsie returned to grind the dehydrated placenta and place it into capsules. (You know–to encapsulate it.) Then she left me with instructions to guide me on my pill consumption: how often to take them, when (and when not) to take them, and how many to take during the first few days and weeks.
To answer some general questions about the experience: no, I have not noticed any aftertaste at all when I take the pills (though I do take them with food), and yes, they really do look a lot like “normal” pills (though if you look really closely, you can see the “grinds” inside the capsules).
But beyond this, what has my experience been with the reported benefits of placenta encapsulation?
One of the reported benefits of placenta encapsulation is increased milk production.
I’ve been very lucky with all three of my babies and have never had an issue with milk production. So if anything, I can report with certainty that consuming my placenta pills has had no negative effect whatsoever on my milk supply.
And how can I report this with certainty?
Eric is exclusively breastfed. He weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz. at birth and was 20 inches long. And on his one month check-up with our pediatrician, he was 11 lbs. 2 oz. and 23 inches long.
So if anything, maybe there should be a study examining whether or not placenta pills make magic baby-growing breastmilk.
Overall, I do feel as if my energy level has seen great improvements when compared to the first six weeks with Miles and Alec.
This isn’t to say that I’ve been cooking every night, living in a spotless house, finishing my dissertation, and solving all of the world’s problems in these six weeks. Far from it. (Especially in regard to that “spotless house” thing. Oh good god, especially in regard to that “spotless house” thing…)
But I have done all of the following without melting into a puddle of goo and tears and exhaustion at the end of the day:
- Putting all three boys to bed all by myself (i.e. with no one else there to help out) when Eric was just four days old (and many, many times since).
- Doing school drop off and pick up for Miles (in kindergarten) and Alec (in a preschool 20 minutes from our house) starting when Eric was ten days old.
- Participating in a panel discussion on birth and feminism in a Women’s Health class at Ohio State University when Eric was exactly two weeks old.
- Traveling to my parents’ house (over one hour way) with just the kids (and no Tim!) to visit my grandpa when Eric was a little over two weeks old.
- Making Tim’s birthday dinner (my famous chorizo gumbo, which is not the world’s easiest recipe) when Eric was nearly four weeks old.
- Keeping up with the blog (many thanks to some extraordinary guest posts) for the entirety of this six week period.
- Parenting three children–ages 6, 3, and newborn–during tax season. While married to a man who, in addition to being an attorney, works nights and weekends preparing taxes. To help support our family. Because he is amazing. But seriously. WHAT WERE WE THINKING PLANNING FOR A PREGNANCY THAT WOULD RESULT IN A BABY BEING BORN AT THE BEGINNING OF TAX SEASON?! Ahem.
To many people, this might not seem like anything out of the ordinary. And to be clear, I haven’t done everything without help: I’ve had absolutely wonderful family and friends bringing dinner, helping out with school pick up and drop offs, and even stopping by with the occasional burrito (WOOT!).
But here’s the thing: Tim and I have always characterized the first six weeks postpartum as the time when we go into “survival mode.” As in, sometimes the best you can hope for during this time is simply to survive.
And that is especially the case with two other children in the house.
Add interrupted sleep and (on my part) frequent calorie-burning breastfeeding, and it’s enough to suck away any and all energy that you might have.
But to be honest? I have felt great. Amazing even.
(Someone on my Facebook page described themselves as feeling as if they are shooting unicorns and rainbow and glitter out of their butts when they take their placenta pills, AND NOW I CAN TOTALLY RELATE!)
And the only downside to this great, amazing energy is that I’ve had to remind myself (sometimes even out loud) that I just had a baby. That it’s okay (and probably even preferable) to slow down every once in a while.
But if that’s the only downside, then I’ll take it.
And if this great, amazing energy is in any way the result of my placenta pills, then by God, I’ll still take them.
A couple weeks before Eric was born, I noted that I had some concerns about experiencing a postpartum mood disorder. And while placenta encapsulation is not a cure for postpartum depression, it can help to alleviate the symptoms of the “baby blues.”
In the past six weeks, I can attest that my mood has seen far fewer fluctuations than it did following the births of Miles and Alec.
What’s more, during this time I’ve had less in-home help, more children to take care of, and far fewer days of paternity leave for Tim than I did after Miles and Alec’s births. So one might expect that I would be experiencing a huge increase in mood fluctuations.
Even more telling? I did have two days of major sadness and anxiety earlier this month. And when I reflected on the possible sources at the end of those two days, I realized that I had forgotten to take my placenta pills on both days.
Could this be the result of pure coincidence? Sure. But I wouldn’t discredit it as only a coincidence either.
And I know this too: just because my mood has been, for the most part, fabulous and stable during these first six weeks, this doesn’t mean that postpartum depression or anxiety won’t find me over the next few months.
Nonetheless, I’ve been remarkably stable during these first six postpartum weeks. And if I can attribute this in any way to my placenta pills, then I will be grateful to them for the rest of my life.
So my final take on placenta encapsulation?
I love it.
Even if I can pinpoint exactly what I can and cannot attribute to the pills, I’ve been so alert and energetic and emotionally stable during these first six weeks that I can’t help but attribute some of these effects to these pills.
With that being said, I would highly recommend placenta encapsulation to any person who is considering it.
And if you are someone considering it, I would also highly recommend finding a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist in your area.
You never know: you might experience unicorns, rainbows, and glitter (i.e. increased milk production, better energy, and improved mood) too!
(Once again, many thanks to my fabulous Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, Kelsie Meyers!)