I came home from work one day during my third trimester and told Shawn that I wanted to have my placenta encapsulated. "You want to have your what what?" he responded, genuine curiosity in voice. I explained to him that this was something I have always wanted to do but have never had the resources to make happen. Because we live in the country, it has always been difficult to find someone who was qualified to do such a thing in our area. During my third pregnancy, however, I was introduced to a doula right here in a nearby town who was certified in placenta encapsulation and offered a very reasonable price range. Erica runs a natural living boutique, does childbirth education, and serves our area with her doula services. Placenta encapsulation is just one of her many skills and I was excited from the first time we spoke about partnering with her.
"What is placenta encapsulation?" Shawn asked. Well, babe, to put it simply: placenta encapsulation is a process in which a mother takes capsules made from her own placenta as a nutritional supplement and postpartum recovery tool. After I delivered my placenta, Erica would come to the hospital, pick up the placenta, and take it into her home where she would then dehydrate it and put it into capsules. I would then take said capsules several times a day for several weeks. Why? Well, the benefits are many according to women who have experienced the process: increased and well regulated milk supply, increased energy, decreased postpartum bleeding, regulated hormonal levels, replenished iron supply, prevention of the "baby blues". Overall, a faster postpartum recovery experience.
We went for it. I discussed my plan with my OBGYN and was enthusiastically given the thumbs up to have Erica take my placenta after delivery. After some research, I found that most hospitals do NOT have any policies in place preventing a mother from taking her placenta from the hospital. We were advised by Erica to not let the placenta leave the room: this ensured that we could keep an eye on it and prevent anyone from forgetting our plans and possibly contaminating it. My OB did tell me that the only way this might not work out was if there was some type of complication or problem that would warrant the placenta needing to go to the lab for pathology. Otherwise, we were given the green light. On the day of River's birth, we told our nurses our plan and they were kind enough to write "Save the placenta!!" on the white board in our room. The nurses were all so supportive and genuinely on board.
Erica was one of the first people we called after River was born. She arrived at the hospital less than an hour later, offered her congratulations, placed the container with my placenta sealed inside into her tote bag, and then left to start the dehydration process. I received my capsules a few days later with the instructions to take 2 capsules 3 times per day for the first 2 weeks and then 2-3 capsules daily as needed.
How do I feel? Honestly, I feel fantastic. As I mentioned in my last post: this has been the best postpartum recovery process I've ever had. I've had less pain, more energy, and have felt very happy and content. My milk came in 3 days postpartum and I have not experienced any engorgement or supply issues. Bleeding has been minimal and my mood has been stable. Basically, I feel like myself. Considering I just birthed an almost 10 pound baby, I feel normal. Normal as compared to feeling like some stressed out, exhausted, I just had a baby version of myself. Which everyone around me is very happy about. I believe in this process as I definitely see a difference between this go 'round and my previous two postpartum recovery periods.
So there you have it: placenta is powerful stuff, y'all! Some of my friends and family think I may have gone a little far off the new age deep end with this one but it sure has made for some solid comic relief. Have you ever done placenta encapsulation before? What was your experience like?