Thursday, September 24, 2015

Placenta Encapsulation

I’ve had a couple people ask me about placenta encapsulation since I mentioned I had mine done. (I’ve also had a couple people imply I’m crazy -- but honestly it doesn’t hurt my feelings or make me think poorly of them -- I know it’s a strange thing to do.) So I figured I’d blog the little I know about it in case more people are curious but don’t want to ask.



I, personally, chose to do it this time for a few reasons.
One, because I’d heard of it a while ago and have had enough time to get over the gross factor and get really, really curious about it. (I almost did it after baby number two, but just couldn’t quite make the leap yet.)
Two, a good friend of mine did it first. She made me brave.
Three, I felt so horrendous during my pregnancy I was ready to do anything to regain health.
Four, it was really easy for me, as my midwife took it from me and brought it back to me as pills in two days. I felt like it would be silly to skip it at this point. (Part of what held me back after baby number two was the fact that I didn’t know an encapsulation source ahead of time. And I was not ready to attempt doing it myself.)

I didn’t know a whole lot about it when I did it. I just kinda did a blind faith move because it seemed like it made sense to me. ha. (I’m a total hippie, right? All these crazy things I never thought I’d do, all make perfect sense to me for no good reason.)

But here is a good site that will explain some of the benefits there are based on scientific research. I’d really recommend you take a peak at that -- it’s very informative. And that sight has a helpful Q&A page as well. And some testimonials.

For me I definitely saw it’s benefits in:

Increased milk production. I actually had to reduce how much I was taking due to how significantly it increased my milk production. There was a direct correlation between when I took the pills to how full my breasts became. So I know that it was working on that front.
(I have extras I haven’t taken, so if I ever have a dip in production, or my baby goes through a growth spurt where I feel I’m not keeping up, I know I can just pop a pill or two and see an increase.)

The other effects are a bit more subjective and hard to be certain, but I feel I can attribute them to the pills.

Postpartum blood loss. That was much different for me this time around than my other two times. This could be attributed to other factors as well. My first was a c-section. My second, I passed a lot of blood at birth. But during my third pregnancy I took iron supplements, which I had never done before. And my third delivery was my easiest and least physically traumatic. So that could all weigh into things.
But after my first two deliveries I bled (had “lochia” -- the medical word for ir) for eight weeks. That’s extra long, but I was deemed fine by my health care providers. (I have 42 week pregnancies, it seems my body just likes to drag things out. #blessed …haha.) My loss wasn’t heavy as in scary for my health, but it was a decent amount through most of those weeks.
After my third, while taking my encapsulated placenta pills, my lochia was much, much lighter than I was used to. And by five or six weeks it was verging on gone, although I wore light day pads for seven weeks because I would have occasional spotting.
So compared to my previous experiences that aspect was much improved and felt a lot less cumbersome.

The Emotional Aspect. Ok, I will not be a standard take on this point. This pregnancy (much different than my first two)  felt physically horrendous to me (42 weeks of unceasing nausea and more aches and pains than I’d ever felt.) So I was going into my birth and postpartum period with a very dark and depressed mindset. So it’s hard to compare this part to my other two experiences. But I do think my encapsulated placenta pills aided on this front.
After this birth I still had a dark and depressed mindset. But I knew I would. I don’t see how that would have instantly lifted, especially since it took about a week for my nausea to clear up and my aches and pains remained for a bit longer. It was hard not to question, during that remaining nausea, if I would return to health, and that was emotionally straining.
But that said, while taking my encapsulated placenta pills I did not have the stereotypical postpartum emotions that I had the first two times. I clearly remember after having my first two experiencing an overwhelming sensation of being alone and feeling skittish and paranoid. After those births I could rationally tell myself those emotions were hormonally derived, but I couldn’t shake them. I didn’t have those emotions this time while taking my placenta pills. I really don’t feel that I had "baby blues", as I had previously with my other two. The emotions I experienced after this birth did not feel hormonally derived, they just felt like the consequence of me emotionally processing a extremely trying pregnancy. Those emotions did feel stronger on the days where my hormones shifted as my milk came in, but I didn’t get the additional emotions of aloneness, or panic, or the emotional-trembling sort of sensations I had with my first two.
I will say I’m very glad to not have added that extra “baby blues” stress onto the level of emotions I was already dealing with. I do think the placenta was a true help to me and a very good idea.
But like I said, this experience is hard to share in any sort of scientific measurement, it’s just me feeling things about my experience.

Pain Reduction. Once again, I don’t feel standard on this one. I went into this situation in pain and my pregnancy pains stuck around a while postpartum. And then you add in delivery pain. But once again, I feel like I experienced my post delivery pains in a less dramatic way than I had with at least my second birth (which was a VBAC, I can’t really compare a c-section to this.) It’s not entirely fair to compare the the VBACs either as I had an epsiotomy with my first VBAC and I had natural small tears with my second VBAC. But I do feel the placenta aided with pain reduction on the pain I had this time.

Energy Level.  After this delivery my midwife really pressed me to stay in bed and recover. (This is advice to all moms, not just me.) And I obeyed this time because I wanted to rest after that pregnancy. So I’m not gonna tell you I was up and running around or anything. But I do know I felt different than after my second VBAC. I remember after that one feeling winded from walking across the room. But this time I had no sensations like that. I was definetly feeling worn out, but once again 42 weeks of being sick wears you out. I think the placenta helped me not get even more worn out postpartum.

Baby Bonding. This is one of those things that can be affected by tons and tons of things. And I don’t want to write you a novel here covering all those things for each pregnancy of mine. But I was worried I wouldn’t bond well with this baby after that pregnancy. And, like I said, lots of things play into this, but I bonded very, very intensely this time, very quickly. I certainly don’t think the placenta pills hurt, they may have helped this along, but  I can’t truly say on this point.


So….
I’m not your best source of information on this. Nor am I a normal testimony on the use.
I’d suggest you look around for more input on the matter.
But personally, I’m saying I’m glad I did this.
IF (really really big IF) I ever have another pregnancy I would definitely do the encapsulation again.

I actually really wish I had done this after my prior pregnancies. Especially after my c-section, as it took me 10 days to get any milk in afterwards. I think this might have really helped me in that case. Actually it kind of makes me sad that there was something so simple, natural, and so easily accessible to me, and I miss out on it because I didn’t know about it.
And after my second, I think it would have been great to get all the iron back in me after the extra blood loss. I think it would have helped with the afterpains I had that time (those ones were far worse than I had be prepared for.)  And perhaps it would have helped me to bond faster with my baby that time.


I don’t have any concrete place to point you to on this, but I have heard of women saving some of their pills (in the freezer) for menopause. It is supposed to help regulate hormones then, to help with hot flashes, night sweats and emotional swings. (I still have quite a few I haven’t taken, so I may just save them for this!)
In the same way, you can use the pills any time you need to help regulate your hormones and get a boost. Perhaps for PMS. Or just rough days.



So maybe you are now wondering: How can you have yours encapsulated?

Well, it’s going to vary, how you get this worked out.

While you are pregnant look around for people who encapsulate. I’d start with googling. If you can’t find any that way, get in touch with someone “birthy” in your area. Either a doula, or midwife, or a “hippie” like me :) . They will probably know someone. I belong to a Facebook group dedicated to birth in my area. That group of ladies always can point to great birthy-type resources. You might find you have such an online group near to you.

If you can’t find someone who can encapsulate it for you. You could take the great leap and do it yourself. (I know it’s a LEAP. I wasn’t ready for it. But it’s possible.) If you want to do this, google is able to point your way.

No matter who encapsulates it, if you want to do this, you need to inform people ahead of time. 
     You should get in touch with the person who encapsulates ahead of time, and get all the details from them. (How much it costs. Do they pick up the placenta or will you need to drop it off? Any special things you should know.)

     You should tell your birth support person (husband/partner, doula, etc) so they can help ensure it happens.
     You should tell your provider ahead of time. If they don’t know, there is a chance they will treat the placenta in a way that will make it unfit for consumption. (This is why your support person should know, so that they can help remind your provider. They can be in charge of ensuring you pack it up and get it to where it needs to go)
     It’s particularly important if you have a c-section to make sure your provider knows this ahead of time as you won’t know when the placenta is delivered to say anything about it in the moment. It wouldn’t hurt to have your support person on the look out to remind them.
     You should tell your nurses as well, they can also help remind your provider of your wishes. And perhaps help you handle it.

If you are having a birth center, or hospital birth you should bring a cooler with you so you can keep your placenta on ice. If you are having a home birth, put in your refrigerator.



So there you have it. My not too knowledgable, but sort of knowledgable post on Placenta Encapsulation. Do with it what you will. (You won’t hurt my feelings if you never want to do it. :) )



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