The Ick Factor -or- How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Placenta

Midwife extraordinaire Pam Kolanz and #2 son bury his placenta.

Midwife extraordinaire Pam Kolanz and #2 son bury his placenta.

My first confession: I have never actually (knowingly) consumed a placenta. With my first son, I didn’t know a thing about it and I imagine it was pitched along with the other “medical waste.” With my second son, I kept the placenta in our freezer intending to bury it under a tree. Four years later, he buried it himself (with some help) in my midwife’s backyard. At any time if someone had suggested I ingest one of those placentas I probably would have shrieked!

Flash forward thirteen years — now I’ve been working as a labor doula and Lamaze educator for several years and I find more and more that this placenta stuff is actually a thing. People are dehydrating the placentas and grinding them up into pills which doesn’t sound too terrible. Confession number two: I took a placenta encapsulation course not because I was sold on the benefits of it, but because it made sense that as a well-rounded birth professional, I should offer this service.

With fellow doulas Ashley Grosh and Samantha Adjekum

With fellow doulas Ashley Grosh and Samantha Adjekum

Third confession: After a weekend workshop taught by guru Deb Pocica of ProDoula, I am completely sold and ready to start preaching the Gospel of the Placenta! This is one amazing organ, folks.

  • It is the only organ the body grows for a specific purpose and then discards upon the completion of its task.
  • Historically the placenta has been seen as an important object and many customs surround it, including burying it under the home, using (a dried piece of) it as a lucky charm, and, yes, planting it under a tree.
  • The first known mention of placenta consumption is seen in the 16th century medical text, the Compendium of Materia Medica. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, human placenta is seen as a restorative and balancer, used to nourish energy and fight fatigue.
  • These days, potential benefits of placenta consumption include improved postpartum mood, restored or balanced post-birth hormones, lessened fatigue, greater success with milk production and breastfeeding, and speedier recovery from birth.

Many women experience some difficulty in “bouncing back” from pregnancy and childbirth, and anecdotal evidence certainly suggests that consuming the placenta can be a great help for those suffering from postpartum depression.

Do you have first-hand experience with the benefits of placenta consumption? What do you think of this? Thanks for reading!