Postpartum depression is very real! And if not addressed , it can lead to serious health issues for the mom and new born baby. Postpartum depression, a temporary depression, occurring after birth affects 1 out of 8 women It includes feelings of numbness, sadness, irritability, anxiety, and disconnectedness.
There has been a lot of buzz in the media about what can reduce the baby blues and increase a mother’s energy level. In Chinese culture eating the placenta has been said to increase adrenaline and reduce stress after giving birth. So what do some American doctors have to say about consuming your placenta as a mom? Claudia Booker, a home birth midwife, says , there are many probable advantages in consuming your placenta. “As an endocrine organ, the placenta helps control the adrenal system, which then sends out signals to continue or stop making various hormones,” says Booker. Ingesting the placenta can allow women to regain energy, reduce bleeding, increase milk production and may help fight off postpartum depression. “Taking supplemental pills containing placenta can send signals to your adrenal system to make more prolactin, which is the hormone that triggers breast milk,” Booker says.
There’s the estrogen effect too! After having a baby estrogen levels may slump down. Booker says, “These placenta pills can tell your hormonal system not to create the tremendous drop in estrogen after birth that causes some women to be weepy or feel down. It slows down that rapid estrogen decline.” Although Booker does not agree with the placenta being the result of eliminating postpartum depression, she does claim that the placenta can help with the new mommy orientation stage of not getting enough sleep and feeling drowsy and down at times.
Consuming the placenta may potentially produce more red blood cells in a woman’s body as well. “You lose a fair amount of blood in labor, but you need those red blood cells so you don’t become anemic,” says Booker. “Anemia has two characteristics that aren’t great: It makes you lethargic because you lack iron, and it makes your thinking foggy because you’re not getting the oxygen red blood cells carry.”
Eating your placenta may sound utterly disgusting and undesirable, but most women do not actually eat a placenta steak or in its brisket form. Booker says the women who do eat the placenta in a brisket form take it right after birth to help with afterbirth cramps and to increase oxytocin levels.
Placenta Capsules are made with no added ingredients. According to TCM recipes one way to make the placenta into its capsule form is to steam with lemon, ginger and green chilli. The placenta is then dehydrated and grounded into a powder placed into a capsule.
Some doctors tend to be suspicious of having new moms eating their placenta, pointing to the lack of scientific evidence and regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an ob-gyn in Westchester, New York, and co-author of V Is for Vagina says,
“I know there are benefits touted, maybe in the Chinese population where they seem to use this a bit more. They say perhaps the pill would ward off depression or give you a sense of wellbeing or more energy, but I have no scientific evidence I can use to support that claim. There’s just no medical literature except one very small study that had self-reported results. I can’t put a medical stamp of approval on that. Also, if you ingest it raw without preparation or freeze drying to prepare these pills, you certainly could put yourself at risk for infection. Everything about it is so speculative because it just isn’t mainstream.”
Another doctor, Daniel Roshan, an OB-GYN at NYU Langone Medical Center‘s Rosh Maternal-Fetal Medicine, has no issues with his patients wanting to take placenta pills. However he also warns his patients that there are no clinical trials or scientific research to back the effectiveness of the pills. He also states, “A woman who has experienced depression before giving birth is more likely to have postpartum depression and should talk to her doctor about antidepressants.The more people you have helping you after delivery, the happier you will be”.
Advocates of eating the placenta afterbirth like to point out that humans are the only mammals that do not eat their placenta. Booker mentions that some women decide to consume their placenta due to not having access to other drugs or medical treatment in order to stop postpartum hemorrhage. Placing a piece of placenta under the tongue, next to the jaw or inside the anus are ways to stop hemorrhage. “Those are ways your body can quickly absorb oxytocin from the placenta, so some use it as a last resort to prevent postpartum bleeding,” says Booker.
Many celebrities have had their share of placenta pills and are proud to share this information with other new moms. Among celebrity moms who have enjoyed the way the placenta has made them feel include Tia and Tamara Mowry, Alicia Silverstone, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Zolciak, Holly Madison and even Teen Mom star Kailyn Lowry.
There are some tips that doctors do give if you’re interested in consuming your placenta. Always check with your professional health care provider, do not consume if you have a fever or infection after your pregnancy, stop use if you contract an infection while taking, and always be safe!
How do you feel about taking a few placenta pills?
Kimberly Leonard, “Moms: Should You Eat Your Placenta?”
Zahra Barnes, “Are There Really Benefits to Eating Your Placenta?”
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow, “Celeb Moms Who Ate Their Placentas”