A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

A Personal Account of Placenta Consumption

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Placenta floating in the birth pool minutes after birth. 

The most frequently asked question since the birth of my second son, Exley, has been about the encapsulation of my placenta. I was one of those people who was thoroughly disgusted by the prospect of consuming a placenta. However, I made plans to do this because I am pretty open to trying new and different things and also because the amount of positive reports regarding the benefits was undeniable for me. Those benefits are said to include lessening postpartum blues, stabilizing hormones, replenishing iron supply, promoting lactation, speeding up recovery time and fighting fatigue. This all sounded worth it to me.

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 My midwife shows me my placenta. 

The doula I hired for my birth is trained in placenta encapsulation so setting it up was easy for me. She asked if I wanted to have the process done in my own home or away at her home. I voted to have it done at my own home because then I could watch the process and show all of you. Once we had a placenta she placed it in a Ziploc bag and put it in my fridge. 2 days later she returned to begin the process. She cleaned and sterilized an entire portion of my kitchen (bonus!). Then she washed it, boiled it and cut it up into tiny pieces. She spread the tiny pieces onto a dehydrator. We placed the dehydrator in a locked room so that the cats could not find it. Apparently they love the taste of placenta. The room with the dehydrator smelled a bit like flesh during this step. She left it here to dehydrate overnight.


Long umbilical cord. 

The next day she returned to grind up the dried placenta (in her Magic Bullet) and encapsulate the grounds. She left the pills with me along with instructions for dosage and complementary foods and drinks for maximum effectiveness. To be honest I was a bit nervous to begin. Based on some of the reports I have heard from others who have taken these pills I was concerned about feeling “speedy.” My doula assured me small adjustments in the dosage would fix any issues.


My doula washing the placenta. 

The biggest issue for me was the “gross factor.” I never acted like I was super happy about all this. I knew it would be hard for me to get the pills down. I found that I was grossed out all the way until I put one in my mouth and still to this day every time I swallow one. Sometimes I have to put my hand over my mouth while I swallow to force it down. On occasion I catch a taste of it if I don’t throw it far back enough or if I breathe before I get a big swig of orange juice. I have gagged.


The placenta boiling on my stove. 

My birth and postpartum experience with my first son, Jack, was a struggle from start to finish. My doctor was pretty unsupportive of my wishes all through pregnancy. She actually told me that it was physically impossible to give birth without an epidural. I was induced, given an epidural, Stadol, an episiotomy and tons of stitches. I bled for 2 ½ months. It took me about as long to walk around comfortably. I struggled emotionally as well. I felt scared and anxious. I was stunned by the prospect of being a mother and this new responsibility. I didn’t want people around. I pushed people away. I struggled to accept help from others. The transition was hard. It was an overall dark period of time.


The placenta cut into pieces. Next it is placed in the dehydrator. 

The second time I surrounded myself with supportive people. I hired midwives that used my wishes a guide. The birth took place in my own home (which was important for us). I had no interventions outside of oxygen and a couple of stitches. I felt great from the moment Exley was placed on my chest. I was advised to rest, but I really wanted to dance or run around the block. I had to pee about an hour after giving birth. My body was working again already. I wanted to eat and drink. I wanted visitors. I wanted help. I asked for help. I was walking around after a couple of days, sitting on the ground a week later and riding on a see-saw with my sons at 3 weeks postpartum.


Jar of encapsulated placenta. 

There are a million factors that could have contributed to the 2 different experiences. My gut tells me that there are far more factors than placenta pills that contributed to my positive postpartum experience. Before this second birth I got the impression that the pills were going to stand on their own as the ultimate in postpartum recovery. For me, the healing and empowering pregnancy and birth experience with less interventions has also contributed to my quicker recovery and more positive mood. The less that is done to us the less we have to recover from. And it makes a world of difference having people around that believe in the powerful birthing and healing powers of my body. It also helps that it is the second time around.


My doula made a heart and braided charm out of the umbilical cord for keepsakes. 

I have had my weepy moments, my struggles to tandem nurse, my struggles to adjust to a family of four and all sorts of other pressures. But I have taken them in stride and been able to manage them; feelings are normal after all, and only an issue if they begin to affect your ability to function. If the placenta pills have had an effect on that then I believe it is because they are a great supplement to an overall healing and empowering birth experience. I felt wonderful immediately after birth, 2 days before beginning the placenta pills. But they could be a key factor in maintaining this winning streak. If I were to get pregnant again I would do everything I did this second time; including placenta encapsulation. I believe it is a valuable part of a positive postpartum experience, but I don’t believe there is a magic pill. I don’t think that placenta consumption can take the place of creating an overall supportive and empowering experience, whatever that means to you, from start to finish for you and your family.

This is just my personal experience thus far. There are as many stories of recovery as there are mothers. What’s yours?

Abby Theuring, MSW

***A special thank you to Tiny Bubbles family Photography By Leslie for the professional photos you see here. Please “Like” her Facebook page.