Ever since entering the "natural birth world" I had been peripherally aware that some cultures ate their placentas, I knew almost all animals do and I had sort of heard about encapsulation. But about 5 years ago, through a student I was teaching, I become more aware of it and felt the pull to "give it a try." My best friend and I thawed out her son's placenta and did some "investigating", she quite eagerly, and myself, a wee bit more hesitantly, watched her poke and prod this organ from her son with an eager fascination. I was carefully holding my stomach from any strong reactions. We completed the process and ended up with over 100 capsules that she went on to use to help herself with various "woman challenges".
I was hired right after that to process my first client's placenta. Knowing there was a value to it, I moved forward, but I admit somewhat hesitantly since I had such a strong reaction to the first one. It turned out to be an amazing opportunity. There was none of the queasiness that I felt with my friend's and the appreciation I felt from the mom I was serving made me so excited to complete this work for her. So every couple of months someone would call or e-mail me for this particular service. The testimonials I received back made me so excited that I continued doing this work, even though I had no first hand experience on the benefits.
On December 11, 2010, I birthed my fourth child, my first daughter! It was AMAZING! You can read her story here: http://www.laborforlove.com/miriam-rose.html
My best friend was there to help with our sons and when it was all over, I sent her home with my placenta to complete the work I had done for other moms...for me this time! 5 days postpartum I took my first capsule and thought, huh, that might have helped...but then I put them aside saving them...so I thought...for menopause. After all, I AM Jenny Davis...I can do EVERYTHING and I DON'T NEED ANY HELP! Know anyone else like this? Yeah...maybe even you are as determined to "do it all" as I am. Well, let's just say some times even the strongest of women need some help!
14 months later, I was doing some research for a presentation on encapsulation and was in particular looking into postpartum depression. Now, I know many women experience PPD, but not me! Because I felt I had traveled through this time with ease, I had no real pressing desire to research it until later in my midwifery studies. I was stopped cold, though, as I read through the list of symptoms of PPD. Nearly HALF of the symptoms applied to myself!!! HOW could that be? But then as I read symptoms such as anger, agitation, irriatation, lack of motivation, mood swings, guilt...I thought, uh oh! I had been irrational for quite some time, though it had snuck up very slowly and quietly. I decided right then and there to pull out my capsules and start them up. Within 3 days, I was dumbfounded at how amazing I felt! My energy was back! I looked around our home and was appalled at how messy it was and actually CARED about fixing it! My milk supply must have changed in some way since my 14 month old daughter who was still nursing went from occasionally nursing to loving it and nursed with crazy enthusiasm! But the most important...for me...change that I noticed was that I was no longer (in 3 measly days) insanely angry! The kids could finally do "kid" things without mom freaking out on them! What a relief for all of us! The kids noticed the difference as well, it wasn't just me noticing it. I told the boys if they found mom being really upset again, to remind me to take my placenta pills...and they did, though with some hesitation in the beginning ;-) cuz they liked having the happy mom back.
Why do they work? Well, they are still studying the science at this point, though throughout history, consuming the baby's placenta, by both mom and dad, has been practiced. The current theory that most find truth to, is this: when a woman is pregnant and the baby is growing, so is the placenta. The placenta produces many hormones for the mother and in some areas, completely takes over the production of some of them. The body doesn't want an overproduction of hormones, so it allows the placenta to maintain control of this during pregnancy. But then the baby decides to be born and with it, the placenta, leaving the body in want and need of a primary hormone producer. The body will catch back up at some point in time, but for some mommas, it can take quite a long time. The placenta, when consumed at this time, helps level mom out until the body can take over the production once again. Some moms like myself, I suspect, was simply depleted of many things...due to pregnancy, nursing, poor nutrition, that it finally caught up to me and I had to do something to correct it...even as late as 14 months. But like I said, the science is still trying to figure out how and if this works. Needless to say, if science proves the experiences many moms have had to be true, it reduces the need for pharmaceuticals...and depression is a big money maker for the wealthiest industry in the world...so needless to say, they are NOT the ones funding the research. So while we wait for science to show what many of us believe to be true, we continue to eat our placentas and find ourselves happier, healthier mothers!
If you have research available to support or NOT support this theory, I sincerely am very interested! Please feel free to share with me your experiences and ideas on this practice!