Six Weeks of Placenta Pills: What’s My Take on It?

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Six Weeks of Placenta Pills: What’s My Take on It?

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Before I gave birth to Eric, I wrote about my plans to encapsulate my placenta and featured an interview with my Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, Kelsie Meyers.

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.

first it nourished eric, now it's nourishing me. it really IS a tree of life.

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.

the nondescript placenta pill container that sits in my fridge

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?

 

Milk production

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.

 

Energy level

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.

 

Mood

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!)



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13 Comments

  1. Rachael
    Rachael03-02-2012

    You put all three to bed on your own? My mind is blown just by that fact alone.

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas03-02-2012

      My patience gets blown on most of the nights that it happens. :)

  2. Hannah Joy
    Hannah Joy03-02-2012

    I had my baby I think two weeks after you (exactly) …and I was due 2 days before…humph! I had my third girl, my second HBAC. :0)

    I too encapsulated my placenta…

    I was a bit disappointed. While I feel like it helped my bleeding a TON, (I only bled the first week and all lochia was gone by 4 weeks…and I had about 9-12 weeks of lochia with my first two)…I ran up against some thing surprising. It made me feel very irritable …like cranky like I am when preggo. It also turns out, if you have celiacs and consume gluten in your pregnancy, some how you placenta ends up being contaminated to. :0( I broke out in my “gluten rash” (and I amSTRICT about my diet now but I wasn’t in the first half of my pregnancy) and had a lot of abdominal pain. I only got to consume half of it…knowing it had gluten in it, I felt I was doing myself more harm then good.

    Ah well…mine was kind of a weird situation. All in all, this postpartim period experience was fantastic…I think a lot had to do with having had a previous vaginal birth, there was less trauma for my body to recover from.

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas03-03-2012

      Congratulations, Hannah!

      I had no idea that the placenta would be contaminated with gluten if you consumed it at all during your pregnancy. That really is news worth spreading around! And I’m sorry that it meant that the encapsulation didn’t work out for you.

      I’ve been fascinated by the counterindications for encapsulation (besides certain blood disorders, of course). Kelsie gave me a card explaining that if I came down with the flu, mastitis, or a cold (which I did this week…ugh), I should stop taking the pills until I’m better since they are known to exacerbate the symptoms of those illnesses. I’d love to know WHY!

  3. Leandra
    Leandra03-03-2012

    So glad you wrote this 6 week follow-up. I am super-impressed with the tasks you took on so early! I remember still wearing the HUGE pad and ice pack at four days… Excited to try it with #3!!

  4. Rachel
    Rachel03-03-2012

    Wow, so interesting. Thank you for sharing your experience! I almost did it this ’round, and then decided not to in the end. I’m glad it has worked well for you, and glad you shared.

  5. KQ
    KQ03-04-2012

    How interesting, thanks for sharing your experience. I am curious as to when it would NOT be recommended to consume your placenta capsules.

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas
      BirthingBeautifulIdeas03-04-2012

      I’ve heard that it is not recommended if a woman develops an intrauterine infection during or right after labor, and if encapsulation does not begin within the first few days after birth. It is also suggested that you stop taking them during mastits, the flu, a cold, etc. But someone more knowledgeable about encapsulation could speak better to this!

  6. Kelsie Meyers
    Kelsie Meyers03-05-2012

    Kristen is right on. You do not want to take your capsules of you have intrauterine infection during labor. This would be determined by having a fever during labor. Your placenta cannot be encapsulated if this happens. Also, as Kristen noted you do not take capsules when you are sick. Taking the capsules at this time can increase your symptoms, especially if there is infection present.

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  9. Molly
    Molly01-03-2013

    This is pretty much how I felt too—alert, energetic, happy, and alive. I wasn’t sure how much to attribute to the placenta pills and how much to attribute to the my intense relief at having a LIVING BABY again though. I joked about being, “placenta powered,” because I felt like I could zoom all around taking care of everything! The only side effect I experienced was bad headaches as I was weaning off the pills. Had oversupply like always, so no observations about whether or not it contributed to milk supply.
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  10. Midwife International
    Midwife International08-27-2013

    If ingesting ones placenta is so taboo, then why does every other mammal partakes in this act? Contrary to cultural acceptance the placenta contains many vital minerals and hormones essential to balance the mother after birth.
    Brenda Ojala, founder of Placenta Works shares her inspiring decision to take the step toward holistic health, help and happiness that came from within.
    See how placenta encapsulation can be an incredible benefit to ones midwifery education and maternal healthcare plan of action.

    Get inspiration from within!

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