Oh yes. This is ‘that’ placenta post.
But first… Happy third trimester to BabyHTP! Everyone counts trimesters differently, but my sources say that the third tri starts at 27 weeks, so I’m going with it. So excited to be in the third trimester.
Here’s what 27 week-old babies are up to: “Baby’s lungs and immune system are maturing this week as baby prepares for his grand entrance. If he were born today he would have an 85 percent chance of surviving as his lungs are capable of breathing air (with medical assistance, of course). Other exciting developments: Baby’s done a lot of growing over the past few months. His length has more than doubled in the past 15 weeks! And that’s not the only thing growing—baby’s brain tissue and neurons are all developing at a rapid pace. His brain waves are now firing away just like those of a newborn baby. If baby is a he, his testes will have completely descended at this point. Your baby now weighs in at approximately 14½ inches and just over 2 pounds.” (Source) Grow, baby, grow!
In other news, I had an appointment with my midwife this morning to take my gestational diabetes test. I won’t know for a few days if I ‘passed.’ My iron levels were also checked – I was low a month and a half ago, and although I’ve made progress, I’m still below the ideal. My supplement has been increased – fingers crossed. I also got to hear the heartbeat – it was a fast 140 beats per minute.
Okay – onto the good stuff.
Many, many people have asked me if I plan to eat my placenta. If you’re all like, ‘WHAAAAAAAT?!’ – please, let me explain before you judge. Placentophagy (the act of eating your placenta) is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice that has been done in China for thousands of years. As the Husband is a TCM physician, we’ve gotten the placenta question a lot.
Those who support the practice claim there are many, many benefits – ingesting your placenta is supposed to help stop bleeding; increase breast milk supply; boost iron, Vitamin B, and other vitamin stores in the momma; reduce the risk of post-partum depression; and stabilize mood. I’ve personally spoken to many women and midwives who were thrilled with the impact that placentophagy had on their health. One midwife even told me of a women who was hemorrhaging after birth – she asked for her placenta, took a huge raw bite out of it, and the bleeding stopped!
Another argument that I’ve heard for placentophagy is the fact that most mammals eat their placentas. However, this argument has never really rang true to me – I’ve always thought that animals probably eat their placenta to help ward off potential predators. Or they really need a snack and don’t have access to a refrigerator. Also, dogs eat their own poop.
Now, there are very few Western scientific studies that either prove or disprove the benefits of placentophagy. There are no large, well-controlled studies to determine if there is a benefit or under what circumstances benefits occur (i.e. dosage, frequency). So the ‘evidence’ for eating your placenta is largely anecdotal and historical.
Does that mean I’m not going to do it? Oh no. I am definitely ingesting my placenta. Why? Well, I feel like the potential benefits (far and vast) far outweigh the drawbacks (mainly the ‘ick’ factor and cost; if the placenta is prepared in a healthy way, there are no health risks to consuming in). Basically – why not? In my eyes, if something that’s entirely natural and safe might be able to prevent post-partum depression, help me sleep more soundly, bounce back more quickly, and produce more breast milk, why not give it a shot?
So – how does this work, exactly? Am I going to haul my placenta home from the hospital and slap it on the grill? Heck, no. First of all, I definitely ‘get’ the ick factor… but not because it’s my placenta. I’m more grossed out by the fact that technically meat, and I’m a vegetarian. Even if it’s MY meat (well, an organ) – it’s still meat. I do find it really funny that the people in my life who are the most FREAKED OUT at the thought of me eating my placenta are omnivores who eat animal flesh on a daily basis – there isn’t a huge difference!
A less-icky way to do it is placenta encapsulation. Basically, the placenta is brought home from the hospital or birthing center, dried in a food dehydrator, crushed, and packaged into pills. You may get 250 pills or more out of your placenta.
While you can certainly encapsulate your own placenta, the idea of this totally 1) freaks me out and 2) stresses me out. I think the Husband and I will be far too busy with the baby to worry about packaging my placenta into a bunch of pills. So instead, I opted to hire a ‘placenta encapsulation specialist’ who will come to my house and do it for me. I’ll call her when I go into labor to give her a heads up, and after birth, we’ll place the placenta in a plastic bag and then in a (new and never to be used again) cooler filled with ice. The Husband or my mother will bring it to our house, and our placenta lady will meet with them to do round 1 of preparations, which takes about an hour. She’ll come back two days later to do another hour of work and finish up. In total, the service costs $150 – this was by far the best price that I found (it was a special); most rates were $250 – $325.
Oh, and HOW do you get your placenta out of the hospital? That is a very interesting topic, indeed. You would think that you could just walk out with your placenta (hello, it came from MY body!), but at my hospital, you have to have your doctor sign a medical release form so you can take it with you. Fortunately, my doctor is pretty cool and doesn’t mind signing. Many hospitals consider placentas to be bio hazardous waste and won’t release it to the patient, which I find ridiculous.
So… not quite sure how to conclude this post, but that’s the story of my placenta plans. Sure, it’s a little different (and I am 100% sure that most of America would think it’s too weird for words), but like I said – if it could possibly help me and my baby, why not just give it a shot?
Here’s Week 27 in bullet form:
Total Pounds Gained: Officially up 21 pounds.
Happiest Baby Moment: Hearing that the baby is positioned head-down. I realize he or she can still flip, but it was nice to hear nevertheless.
Happiest Non-Baby Moment: Our mortgage is wrapped up and ready to go – we close on our first home NEXT WEEK.
Workouts: Two 20-minute sessions on the elliptical, a little strength training, and two long walks.
Only 13 weeks (give or take a few…) to go!
wow, Caitlin! such an informative and interesting blog post- and i’m not even CLOSE to considering having a family, but I found it pretty cool.
if I were ever to consider ingesting a placenta for it’s possible benefits, i would definitely only consider the pill form. that’s very cool! 🙂 i also was kinda grossed out initially reading your post, but the pill idea neat. the only problem- i’m terrible at remembering to take supplements.. thank goodness for gummie vitamins! 🙂