Placenta Ingestion: What, How, and Why
By Michaela Evanow CD(DONA), PBi-CPES
Placenta Encapsulation is a growing in popularity each month. As more and more mothers hear about the wonderful benefits of the placenta, and grow to appreciate this miracle that they grew themselves, they feel a strong urge to use the placenta in the most beneficial way, instead of throwing it out. Many mothers encapsulate their second or third placenta. The tree of life, as it’s lovingly called, speaks for itself. It is the ultimate way to nourish the mother’s body in the postpartum. I get emails from mothers everyday, from all walks of life, excited about encapsulating their placenta. Even their husbands email me! Rarely do I come across a squeamish relative. Most people are fascinated!
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the placenta to be a “full of life force” organ, and although Western Medicine tends to ignore the placenta, cultures across the world have revered it, and used it as nourishment for centuries. Mothers that ingest their placentas have noticed an increase or letdown of milk, incredible amounts of energy, and have felt the placenta worked as a mood stabiliser. But increasingly mothers who suffered from Postpartum Depression in their first pregnancy are contacting me the second time around to have their placentas encapsulated because it contains so many hormones.
During pregnancy the hypothalamus secretes corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) when the body is under stress, which in turn, causes cortisol to be secreted into the blood. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels and maintains normal blood pressure, which helps the body function well under stress.
In the third trimester, the placenta secretes a large amount of CRH, which scientists believe help pregnant women with the stress of labour and delivery. However, with the removal of the placenta at delivery, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, reaching pre-pregnancy levels in a matter of days. The hormones that also rose during pregnancy, such as cortisol, beta-endorphin, and human chorionic gonadotrophin, decline at delivery, as the placenta leaves the body.
In the immediate postpartum, the placenta is the richest source of CRH and nutrients. By ingesting the placenta, the mother will be protected in this postpartum period, while her hypothalamus gradually begins to secrete CRH and maintains homeostasis in the coming weeks.
The placenta may also:
- Increase general energy and fight fatigue.
- Increase production of breast milk.
- Decrease the likelihood of baby blues and Postpartum Depression.
- Decrease the likelihood of iron deficiency.
- Decrease the likelihood of insomnia or sleep disorders.
- Lessen postpartum bleeding and hasten the return of the uterus to pre-pregnancy state.
- Allow a quicker return to health after birth.
The placenta is composed of some amazing hormones including:
Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone
Prolactin: promotes lactation
Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, a common postpartum condition
Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing
Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections
Oxytocin: for pain relief and bonding of mother and infant
Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events
Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores
Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections
Michaela Evanow CD (DONA), PBi-CPES has worked as a doula, caught babies overseas and encapsulated placentas before she had her own baby. Michaela has always been a birth junkie! She noticed that the postpartum period was often neglected, and although she loved being a doula, she knew that she wanted to offer postpartum support with something tangible, unique and completely wonderful. Michaela became BC’s first certified placenta encapsulation specialist and joined the staff at PlacentaBenefits.info. After having a beautiful water birth, and meeting her daughter Florence Marigold, she encapsulated her own placenta and fell in love with placenta therapies all over again! Michaela keeps on offering this service, because the demand is there and she loves it.