Saturday, July 26, 2008

Adventures with a placenta

"What do you do with the placenta?" is a common question people ask home birthers. Well, here's what I did with my placenta:

Originally we planned a lotus birth. This is where you leave the placenta attached to baby and never cut the cord. Instead, you wait for the whole thing to fall off, which usually takes 3-4 days. Many people choose to do this for ceremonial purposes - something more meaningful than just cutting the cord and throwing it away. You can go to this website for more information about it. However, after 2-3 hours of trying to juggle a newborn and an attached placenta in a bowl, we decided it was more hassle than we were willing to manage. So we tied off the cord with a bit of ribbon and cut it. We put the placenta in the freezer to do something with later. Her cord fell off 4 days later.

(This is one of the many benefits of delayed cord cutting. Other benefits include increased blood stores for baby, less anemia and jaundice, and increased iron and Vitamin K for baby. Ruby is the first of my babies to never have jaundice.)

In the days following the birth, as the hormone levels dropped off, I noticed an increase in anxiety and other emotional problems. I had heard that consuming the placenta can help combat post-partum depression, so I thought I'd like to try that. I was not brave enough, however, to actually *eat* the placenta. But I did make plans to encapsulate it. This is a process where you dehydrate the meat of the placenta, pulverize the pieces, and put the powder into gelcaps. Then you take the pills just like a vitamin. The hormones in the placenta will theoretically help to balance your own hormones, lessening the effects of the hormone drop after birth.

I started by thawing my placenta out from the freezer. I cut away the meat from the membranes and chopped it into small pieces. I had planned to taste a piece, but the placenta had degraded some in the week since the birth, so I decided against it. I spread the pieces out on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at low temperature for several hours, until it dried out. Once the pieces had dried out, I took them and crushed them into powder, then put them in capsules.

Since I have been taking my "placenta pills" I have noticed a real difference! I feel emotionally very energetic and cheerful, almost hyper. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first, but now I am a believer! I would suggest to anyone who is interested to have this done with their own placenta, particularly if they are concerned about post-partum depression.

We saved the membranes and umbilical cord for burial. I never did feel right about just throwing away the should mean more than that, in my opinion. So for Pioneer Day, we went up to Jenna's to have a picnic and bury the placenta. We went down to the local market and picked out a shrub for it; we picked a columbine.

Charlee and Isabella played so well together and had a great time! So did we, for that matter. We had a terrific lunch and spent the rest of the day just chatting and enjoying the beautiful weather. I'm so glad we got the placenta all done. I feel like we have done everything exactly right with Ruby's birth, and I am looking forward to telling her all about our amazing adventures with her when she gets older.

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