When I was pregnant with Eliza, I worried a lot about a recurrence of postnatal depression. I really wanted to do everything I could to avoid it this time round, and after a lot of research I came across placental encapsulation.
In short, this uses the placenta as a form of post birth healing. During labour and birth, you can use a lot of blood, resulting in anaemia and tiredness. The placenta is rich in iron, amino acids and essential fats – the perfect replenishment after delivery. Stem cells and growth factors in the placenta also work to heal the wound left when placenta separates from the uterine wall, resulting in lighter bleeding post birth. On top of that, the placental tissue is rich in vitamins E and B6, oxytocin (which aids in breastfeeding) and corticotropin (important for reducing stress levels).
This all adds up to make the placenta an incredibly important organ, which I don’t believe we should be discarding after birth. I knew I could never go as far as eating my placenta, but the idea of encapsulation really interested me. It wasn’t something I felt capable of doing myself, and so I found an IPEN specialist to make the capsules for me.
After the birth, the placenta was placed inside a plastic box and kept refrigerated until the specialist was able to collect. The placenta was then dehydrated before being ground into a powder, which was put into capsules ready to take. These were delivered back to me once we were home from hospital.
Did they help for me? It’s hard to say when you have no idea how the post birth period would have been without them. But I will say this. The bleeding didn’t last as long, and wasn’t as heavy as it was with my other children. I had a huge milk supply, and although I didn’t escape feeling blue totally, I definitely didn’t suffer as much as I did last time. I was able to fight the fog more easily, and recover more quickly. I felt tired after Eliza was born, but again this didn’t last for long, and I certainly didn’t feel the crushing exhaustion I had experienced before.
Placebo or not, placental encapsulation did something for me, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other mums-to-be. For me, the health benefits it provided far outweighed any squeamishness or doubt. The placenta is an amazing organ, and it can continue to provide for you after it has finished providing for your baby.