To Nourish the Transition into Motherhood
The placenta is a miraculous organ, which has the same genetic makeup as the baby itself. In utero the placenta provides the same functions as the kidneys, lungs and intestines after the birth:
- enables the baby to get oxygen and nutrients
- allows to eliminate carbon dioxide and other waste material
- protects against the transfer of infections to the baby and is the place where antibodies are formed;
- produces a large amount of hormones to ensure continuous growth
The placenta, circular shaped, forming a spongy disk of about 20 cm in diameter and 2-3 cm in thickness, is growing throughout pregnancy, weighing about 450g to 700g at term, in direct relationship with the fetal weight (about 1/6 of the baby’s weight). The maternal blood flows through the placenta at about 1000ml per minute at term.
The third stage of labor with the birth of the placenta is most of the time an uneventful last part of the birth. The main concern after the birth of the placenta is the closing of the open blood vessels. If it is not happening fast enough we talk about hemorrhaging.
In the animal world the placenta is with few exceptions eaten by the birthing mammal. This protects the offspring avoiding any extra attraction from the smell of fresh blood. At the same time the placenta nourishes the mother animal, easing the abrupt changes in hormones; at least that’s what we are assuming.
Placenta for medicinal use is mentioned in the Chinese Materia Medica of 1587 documenting a much older oral tradition. Placenta Humanum was homeopathically proven by Biggs and Gwillum / Welsh School of Homeopathy in 2000 in order to identify its therapeutic actions and indications for clinical use.
That mentioned, we have no Western research on the effect of ingesting the placenta and rely mainly on experiential feedback.
What we find are many stories surrounding the deep appreciation for the placenta with worldwide respectful rituals: from planting a tree with the placenta who grows alongside the child to special burial rituals, seeing the placenta as the spirit double / spirit home of the child.
Benefits of Postpartum Placenta Medicine
- Improved energy levels coming along with stabilized mood (according to Chinese Materia Medica: boosts qi function, nourishes the blood, warms the kidney); many clients report being able to tell a difference if they miss a pill.
- Placenta Encapsulation: The placenta is steamed, dried, powdered, and preserved in capsules. This form is easiest for use during the weeks following birth, while there is also the option to cut the placenta in pieces and freeze.
- Placenta Tincture: The medicinal qualities of the placenta are extracted into alcohol for long-term preservation.
- Placenta Prints and Cord Keepsake as a memorabilia
Health and Safety
There is always careful screening of any illness, and/or medications which would counter indicate placenta encapsulation.
We ask you to specifically screen for hepatitis, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, Strep B+ and Lyme disease and any intra- or postpartum infections.
My training is through the Hudson Valley Placenta Services and conforms to the OSHA guidelines for Bloodborne Pathogens and Infection Control to guarantee safe handling.
This service has not been evaluated by the FDA. The services offered are not clinical, pharmaceutical, or intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Families who choose to utilize these services take full responsibility for their own health and for researching and using placenta encapsulation.
Lim, Robin (2010): Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra
Enning Cornelia (2003): Placenta – The Gift of Life
Chinese Materia Medica, 3rd edition
Kathy Biggs / Linda Gwillum (2000): Placenta Humanum; Welsh School of Homeopathy