How can new mothers have more energy?

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Placenta-and-iron.png” alt=”placenta capsules contain iron” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

Six objections to placenta encapsulation

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Placenta encapsulation involves dehydrating and encapsulating the dried, ground placenta into capsules for the mother to consume during her postpartum. Over 4000 species of mammals consume their placenta straight after birth (even the herbivores!). More and more women are choosing to consume their placenta for a range of health benefits. Most commonly reported effects are increased energy, improved milk supply and balanced hormones.[/cs_text][cs_text]

Is it a fad?

[/cs_text][cs_text]Humans have actually been consuming placentas for hundreds of years. In China it is known as “Zi He Che” and has been used medicinally for over 2000 years. According to many Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors it is seen as a “tonic to fortify the ‘qi’ and enrich the blood” (Savadore 2012).

In the 19th century, pharmacies in China, South America and Eastern Europe produced placenta remedies. Up until the end of the 19th century, it was quite common for European pharmacies to sell placenta powder (Enning 2011).[/cs_text][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/capsules.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text]

But, don’t animals do it to avoid predators?

[/cs_text][cs_text]The short is answer is no. According to behavioural neuroscientist, Professor Mark Kristal (1980) this theory is not very credible for a few reasons. Animals will still consume their placenta even if they have no predators and non-nesting species will remain at the birth site (even after their young can walk) to ingest their placenta. Primates who birth in a tree will eat their placenta even though it could be dropped to the ground away from them. Also, even though birth fluids could attract predators, these are not necessarily cleaned up. [/cs_text][cs_text]

Doesn’t the placenta contain waste?

[/cs_text][cs_text]The placenta acts as a filter and sends waste products from the baby back to the mother for her to process (she eliminates waste products through breath, urine and faeces). Waste is not “stored” in the placenta.

There are small amounts of heavy metals in the placenta however it is scientifically proven that these levels are no greater than normal levels of heavy metals found in the body and in mothers colostrum and breast milk (Iyengar & Rapp 2001, Schramel et al 1998).[/cs_text][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/tree-of-life.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text]

Doesn’t heating/dehydration kill the nutrients?

[/cs_text][cs_text]Dehydration has been used for centuries as a way to preserve foods and maintain the nutrient levels (Aguilera cited in Beacock 2012). Shrief (cited in Beacock 2012) states that although some nutrients may be lost, most benefits are retained.

Most research looking into the effect of heating as been done on vegetables and meats rather than placenta. However, Professor Kristal (cited in Beacock 2012) has shown that rat placenta is not impaired by freezing or heating. The results of a study conducted by Phuapradit et al (2000) suggest that the amount of nutrients (particularly protein and minerals) in human placenta was actually enriched by heating and drying.[/cs_text][cs_text]

There’s not much research is there?

[/cs_text][cs_text]Research on placentaphagy (eating the placenta) does exist but unfortunately there isn’t a lot.

However, other medicinal uses for the placenta have been researched. The first clinical reports of successful use of amniotic membrane in the treatment of burns and skin ulcerations occurred in 1913 (Ganatra 2003). Wound dressing of thermal burns and/or other open wounds with amnion is still successful today.

Amnion is also useful in plastic surgery and eye surgery (Chuntrasakul, 1977 and J.C. & Tseng Kim, 1995). Umbilical cord blood and stem cells can be used for transfusion and transplantation in Paediatrics and hematologic diseases. It is also now popular to bank cord blood/stem cells.[/cs_text][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PlacentaEncapsulationByronBay.jpeg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text]

If people are well nourished- do they need to consume the placenta?

[/cs_text][cs_text]Growing and birthing a baby is hard work. Add to that that society has placed a lot of pressure on women having a quick recovery and being as functional as quickly as possible. Gone are the days of ‘lying in’ and having your village cook, clean and care for you as you recover from birth and learn to breastfeed and care for a new baby.

After birth, the pregnancy hormones drop significantly and can leave a new mother weepy, overwhelmed, tired and anxious. These feelings (known as ‘the baby blues’) are quite common and up to 80% of new mothers experience them in the first 2 weeks postpartum.

The placenta contains many beneficial vitamins, minerals and hormones. Even a well-nourished woman can benefit from hormonal balancing. Consuming your placenta can help with increasing energy (it’s full of bioavailable iron), quicker recovery, feeling more balanced and enhancing milk supply (due to the hormones present).[/cs_text][x_creative_cta padding=”25px 25px 25px 25px” text=”Find a placenta package that suits you ” font_size=”24px” icon=”heart-o” icon_size=”24px” animation=”slide-top” link=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/packages/” color=”” bg_color=”hsl(0, 86%, 25%)” bg_color_hover=”hsl(0, 84%, 26%)”][cs_text]

References:

Beacock, M (2012), “Does eating placenta offer postpartum health benefits?”, British Journal of Midwifery, Mark Allen Publishing Ltd, UK.

Chuntrasakul C. (1977). Clinical experience with the use of amniotic membranes as a temporary dressing in the treatment of burns and other surgical open wounds. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand

Ganatra, M.A (2003), “Amniotic Membrane in Surgery”, Journal Of Pakistan Medical Association) Vol. 53. No.1.

Enning, Cornelia (2011), “Placenta: The gift of life”, Motherbaby press, Oregon.

Iyengar, G & Rapp, A (2001), “Human placenta as a ‘dual’ biomarker for monitoring fetal and maternal environment with special reference to potentially toxic trace elements. Part 3: Toxic trace elements in placenta and placenta as a biomarker for these elements”, Science of the total environment, volume 280, issue 1-3 pages 221-238

Kristal, Mark (1980), “Placentophagia: A biobehavioral Enigma”, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol. 4, pp. 141–150, New York.

Phuapradit et al (2000), “Nutrients and hormones in heat-dried human placenta”, Journal of the medical association of Thailand.

Schramel et al (1988), “Selenium, cadmium, lead, and mercury concentrations in human breast milk, in placenta, maternal blood, and the blood of the newborn”, Biological trace element research, volume 15, issue 1 pages 111-124

http://resources.thefeministbreeder.com/labor-birth/postpartum-health-healing/placenta-encapsulation-the-story-of-the-missing-evidence/

Savadore (2012): http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/54285/eating-placenta-an-age-old-practice-in-china#ixzz3nST47vkv

[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

Delayed Cord Clamping at Cesarean Birth

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]I was very impressed to see this healthy placenta with long white cord that showed me the baby had received it’s full blood volume (despite being born via cesarean).

Usually cesarean born babies have their cord clamped and cut very early so I asked the mother if she had requested delayed cord clamping and she said yes. The obstetrician at John Flynn private hospital (Queensland) said that he could ‘milk’ the cord so that baby receives its’ blood from the placenta.

I am so happy to hear that this is being done! Delayed cord clamping (and milking the cord) helps the baby to receive more oxygen, more iron and enjoy stem cells for quicker healing. You can read more about the benefits of delayed cord clamping here.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ class=”cs-ta-center” style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/delayed-cord-clamping-ceasarean-birth.png” alt=”delayed cord clamping is possible at cesarean births too” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

Placenta variations and what they look like

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Placenta’s are like snow flakes – each one completely unique! I’ve heard so many stories of women not even seeing their placenta after birth. All the attention is on their new baby (and rightly so!) but it can be amazing to have a glance at your baby’s ‘first room mate’. Each time I hold a placenta in my hands I am in awe at the incredible organ that the mother grew to nourish her baby.

Normally a human placenta is round like a plate, with a diameter of about 22cm and is about 2-2.5cm thick. It can weigh about 500 grams (and is usually heavier with bigger babies). It has two very distinct sides. The maternal side (the side attached to the mother’s uterus) is usually deep red/maroon and is made up of lobes (called cotyledons). The fetal side looks like a tree with veins and arteries running over the surface. The umbilical cord is usually 50-60cm long and has two arteries and a vein. It normally inserts into the middle of the placenta. Just like each baby is unique, each placenta has it’s own characteristics, and some have variations listed below.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/succenturiate-lobe-and-velamentous.png” alt=”succenturiate lobe and velamentous insertion” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Velamentous Insertion: This is when some of the umbilical vessels run through the membranes (rather than attaching directly into the placenta). Although most babies are born fine, this kind of placenta does come with more risks. Because the vessels are unprotected, if the membranes (the bag of waters) is broken, it can puncture the vessels and cause hemorrhaging. Luckily, all the placenta’s that I have seen with this variation have all had happy endings.

Succenturiate Lobe: This is an extra lobe that is embedded in the membranes and connected to the main disc of the placenta via arteries/veins. According to radiopaedia.org this occurs in around 2/1000 pregnancies. It’s not really known what causes these accessory lobes. One theory put forth by babyworld.co.uk is that a slight irregularity or tiny scar on the uterine wall makes a small area inhospitable to the growing placenta, forcing a lobe to ‘move over’ and grow elsewhere. Some lobes are attached directly to the placenta via a ‘parenchymal bridge’, this is called a digitate lobe.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Circummarginate-and-Circumvallate.png” alt=”Circummarginate and Circumvallate” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Circumvallate: This is when the fetal membranes create an edge of double folded membranes. It creates a thickened ring that makes a smaller circle (inwards from the edge of the placenta). The exact cause is unknown but midwife Patricia Edmonds says it can be caused by abnormal implantation of the placenta and the placenta and uterine wall growing at different rates.

Circummarginate: On this placenta, the point where the membranes attach is inside the edge of the placenta. The margin is thin and flat (whereas the circumvallate placenta has a thick ridge).[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Bilobed-and-Battledore.png” alt=”Bilobed and Battledore” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]Bi-lobed: This is when the placenta has two near equal-sized lobes. It may form if the uterus is an unusual shape. It can also be caused by one part of the placenta implanting in the front of the uterus and another part of the placenta attaching to the back of the uterus. It is NOT caused by a twin pregnancy (even though this is a common myth). According to radiopaedia.org it is estimated to occur in around 4% of pregnancies.

Battledore/Marginal Insertion: This is when the umbilical cord inserts into the rim of the placenta (rather than in the middle). It is called ‘battledore’ because the placenta looks like a racket used in the game battledore (similar to badminton). If the umbilical cord inserts not quite centrally and not quite on the margin, it is called an eccentric insertion. [/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]So, next time you have the chance to look at a placenta (maybe your own!), ask your midwife to explain all the different parts and see if you can pick any variations. If you aren’t really up for looking at it straight after birth, get someone to take photos so you can look when you’re ready. I’ve had clients not want to look after birth, but become curious later, and are glad to have photos! If you’ve already birthed, do you remember what your placenta looked like? [/cs_text][x_promo image=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Kirrah.jpg” alt=””]Kirrah Holborn provides pregnancy and postpartum support in the Northern Rivers. She runs holistic antenatal classes, gives nurturing pregnancy massages and provides safe and reliable placenta encapsulation services.[/x_promo][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

How to make a placenta homeopathic

These are the steps required to make a 6C placenta homeopathic for your baby

  1. Choose a small piece of placenta (from the maternal side), gently tear it off and place in brandy in an amber bottle. Let it sit for six weeks.

  2. Get out 6 bottles (I use 25ml bottles) and put 24.75ml of brandy in each and label 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c, 6c

  3. Strain some of the original mixture and put 5 drops (.25ml) of this into the 1C bottle (succuss 100 times by banging 100 times on your palm).

  4. Take 5 drops of the 1C and place into the 2C bottle of brandy and succuss 100 times
  5. Put 5 drops of the 2C into the 3C bottle of brandy and succuss 100 times
  6. Put 5 drops of the 3C into the 4C bottle of brandy and succuss 100 times
  7. Put 5 drops of the 4C into the 5C bottle of brandy and succuss 100 times
  8. Put 5 drops of the 5C into the 6C bottle of brandy and succuss 100 times.
  9. You now have your 6C remedy for your baby. Keep the 1C and 5C for making future remedies. The other remedies can be tipped under a tree.

This 6C remedy is a constitutional remedy for the baby throughout his/her life. It can help with boosting immunity and bringing balance in times of change (e.g.; teething). Use 3 drops under the tongue, or add to breastmilk on nipple, or add to water or place onto the top of head as needed.

Placenta Variations

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]These water colour paintings were inspired by studies I did with APPA (Association of placenta preparation arts) as part of my continuing professional development.

Feel free to share from my Facebook page or from my website (please leave attribution as these are my own drawings).

You can purchase greeting cards, throw pillows and other placenta print items HERE.[/cs_text][x_image type=”none” src=”http://placentawisdom.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/placenta-variations.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

Placenta Traditions and Beliefs

What does a placenta do all day?

The placenta is an incredible organ that helps an unborn baby to grow and thrive. It performs the functions of the digestive system, immune system, kidneys, liver, skin and lungs while the baby is inside the womb of its mother. It allows the baby to extract all the nourishment it needs from the mothers blood and then sends any waste back to the mother to be excreted through her breath and urine. Dr Sarah Buckley (2005) puts it simply by saying ‘not only is the mother breathing and eating for the baby, but she is peeing for him too!’ The baby cannot regulate it’s own temperature and so it sends its excess heat to the mothers circulatory system to help cool down (this explains why pregnant women are that bit warmer!).

All of these amazing functions are performed continuously by the placenta while the baby grows inside its mother. The placenta also functions for some minutes after birth and by delaying the cutting of the cord, it helps the baby transition to breathing on it’s own and receive it’s full blood volume (including iron and stem cells). Delayed cord clamping not only allows the transfusion of blood to the baby, it also makes it easier and safer for the mother to birth (due to it’s reduced size). This helps the uterus to contract effectively and can help reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. It’s a win-win to leave the placenta attached to the baby until it is birthed.

It’s no wonder that the placenta is revered in so many cultures around the world!

The treatment of the placenta after birth varies between people and countries. In many western cultures, the placenta is viewed as ‘medical waste’ and disposed of at birth. However, many cultures (throughout history and even today) place much significance on honouring the placenta by burying it. In New Zealand, the Maori traditionally bury the placenta on tribal land which helps the child to establish a personal and spiritual connection to the land. The Navajo will bury the placenta to ensure the child will always return home. Cambodians believe that a child will stay safe as long as they stay near to where their placenta was buried (Buckley 2012). The people of the Pacific Islands bury the placenta in the garden to ensure that the child will grow into a good gardener (Enning 2011). In Indonesia, a family may bury a paintbrush with the placenta (to bring artistic talent), or a pen to encourage the child to be a writer, or a pinch of rice to bring prosperity to the child’s life (Lim 2010). In Bali, the placenta is believed to be the physical body of the child’s guardian angel and is therefore treated with utmost respect.

One of my friends, Helene, decided to bury a small part of her placenta to help her son feel connected to the earth and ensure he always feels grounded and able to find his way in the world. She loved that this was a tradition in many cultures and felt a strong need to honour the placenta this way. I’ve had other clients also choose to keep a small part of their placenta for burial (they do this along side the choice to encapsulate the remainder for postpartum health).

I really like that burial of placenta can accompany placenta encapsulation. This important honouring and ceremonial aspect fits well with my belief system especially since women can still experience the benefits of encapsulation if they wish. I currently offer this as part of my service. If women would like to bury some of their placenta, a piece is cut off and refrigerated or frozen so that it can be buried according to their beliefs. I have also been honoured to be involved in ceremonies where the full placenta has been buried under a significant tree. It brings such a richness to the child and families life whilst closing the birthing journey in a beautiful way.

There are numerous other placenta traditions. For instance, in Turkey, if parents want their child to be well educated, they may throw the umbilical cord over a school yard wall (Buckley 2012). Australian natives may make necklaces from the umbilical cord for the children to wear to protect them from diseases (Enning 2011). In Yemen, the placenta is left on the rooftops for birds to eat. This is believed to help the love between the new parents to grow (Enning 2011).

Some women choose to make a print from their placenta. They do this by patting any excess blood off the placenta and then placing it onto paper to make a print of the tree-of-life. This is an artistic and creative way to honour the placenta and have a keepsake of its beauty.

Lotus birth

Lotus birth is a new ritual for humans. This is the practice of leaving the placenta attached to the baby until the umbilical cord dries and separates naturally around 3-10 days after birth (Buckley 2010). It is believed that this can allow a more gentle transition for the baby. Some mothers report their baby is more calm and at ease as a result from having a lotus birth. To help preserve the placenta and reduce odour, it can be salted and dried rosemary or other herbs are added (Lim 2010). It is then wrapped in a nappy and changed daily. Waiting for the cord to detach on it’s own means those first few days are ‘slower’. The baby isn’t passed from one relative to another (because the placenta is still attached and this can make some people squeamish). It ensures people are extra gentle when handling the baby and a greater awareness is needed because the placenta is still attached. One mother, Rebecca Bashara, explained that it was easier to keep her baby swaddled rather than try and dress him while the placenta was still attached. It took three days of extra mindfulness but she felt it was worth it for the calm and peaceful transition for her baby (Lim 2010).

I provide placenta services to women in Northern New South Wales, Australia. Many of my clients choose to encapsulate their placenta. The practice of lotus birth is not really compatible with placenta consumption. In order to safely consume the placenta, it needs to be refrigerated soon after birth. Other traditions, such as delayed cord clamping and partial placenta burial can still be practiced alongside placenta encapsulation. Clients wishing to partake in several placenta traditions usually choose partial burial, placenta encapsulation and ceremonial use of the dried cord.

Placenta consumption

According to the 1916 Lancet, there are reports as far back as 1556 of people consuming their placenta. The belief was that it helped with production of milk. Modern accounts of placentaphagy claim similar benefits. In 1935, there were also reports of Italian women eating their placenta to aid lactation and to prevent after pains (Ploss).

In the 19th century, pharmacies in China, South America and Eastern Europe produced placenta remedies. Up until the end of the 19th century, it was quite common for European pharmacies to sell placenta powder. Still today in China, women make money by selling their placenta to pharmacies (Enning, 2011).

Enning (2011) states that according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the placenta is considered a powerful medicine that is full of vital force. Raven Lang, a TCM midwife recommends women consume their placenta to aid in recovery from birth and prevent postpartum depression.

These are just a glimpse of some of the many and varied beliefs and customs surrounding the placenta. It is an incredible organ that your body has made. It’s nice to think about what you might like to do to honour this organ that has sustained and grown your baby for 9 months. If you’d like to experience the benefits of placenta encapsulation, please get in touch.

Kirrah Holborn provides pregnancy and postpartum support in the Northern Rivers. She runs monthly holistic antenatal classes, gives nurturing pregnancy massages and provides safe and reliable placenta services.

References

Buckley, Dr Sarah (2005), “The Amazing Placenta” sourced from mothering.com on 29th July 2015

Buckley, Dr Sarah (2010), “Lotus Birth – A Ritual for Our Times” cited in “Placenta, the Forgotten Chakra”, Half Angel Press, Bali, Indonesia.

Buckley, Dr Sarah (2012), “Birth Preparation: Placenta Rituals and Folklore” sourced from mothering.com on 2nd June 2012.

Crawfurd, Dr Raymond (1916), “Legends and lore of the genesis of the healing art” published in The Lancet on December 30th 1916.

Enning, Cornelia (2011), “Placenta: The gift of life”, Motherbaby press, Oregon.

Lim, Robin (2010), “Placenta, The Forgotten Chakra”, Half Angel Press, Bali, Indonesia.

Ploss, H. Bartels, M.; and Bartels, P. (1935) “Woman: An historical, gynaecological and anthropological compendium. Heinemann, Londo

Wait! Don’t cut your baby’s cord too soon!

Preparing for birth involves knowing about the third stage of labour (birthing your placenta). At the time of birth, the placenta continues to function pumping blood to the baby (Enning 2007) but eventually the umbilical cord stops pulsing and the placenta will need to be birthed.

In many Australian hospitals it is quite common for delivery of the placenta to be ‘managed’. This involves an injection of synthetic oxytocin. A natural third stage (without drugs being used) is called a ‘physiological third stage’. It is also quite common to clamp the cord soon after birth, however, there is no sound scientific evidence that supports the immediate clamping in vaginal or cesarean births (Emerson 2012).

The World Health Organization states that even if you want/need the synthetic oxytocin injection, you can still leave the baby attached to receive the benefits of delayed cord clamping (Cernadas 2006).

These photos were taken by Nurturing Hearts Birth Services and show how the cord visibly changes as the blood transfers to the baby after birth.

What does it mean to delay cutting the cord?

According to Abalos (2009) an exact definition of ‘delayed’ cord clamping is unclear, however, it is generally understood to mean a delay of cutting the cord until 2-3 minutes after birth or when the cord has stopped pulsing.

What are the benefits of delayed cord clamping?

  1. At the time of birth, up to one-third of the baby’s blood volume is still in the placenta (Buckley 2009). By allowing the cord to finish pulsing, the baby will receive most or all of its blood. This extra blood contains iron, oxygen and stem cells and is beneficial for the baby to receive it! Stem cells may even help with recovery from the birth (Reed 2015).
  2. Gentle transition to earth: It’s a big transition to make from womb to world. The baby needs to initiate breathing and this can take a little time. By leaving the cord unclamped, the baby can continue to receive oxygen from the placenta via the pulsing umbilical cord (Buckley 2009). This gives the baby time to expand it’s lungs and get used to breathing on it’s own (before this oxygen supply is removed).
  3. Keeping mother and baby close to each other helps with bonding and helps the mother to release her own natural oxytocin which helps prevent post-partum hemorrhage and helps her to safely birth the placenta (Buckley 2009).

A 2013 Cochrane review (McDonald et al) found “There are some potentially important advantages of delayed cord clamping in healthy term infants, such as higher birthweight, early haemoglobin concentration, and increased iron reserves up to six months after birth. These need to be balanced against a small additional risk of jaundice in newborns that requires phototherapy.”

When is a good time to cut the cord?

Dr Sarah Buckley (2009) recommends delaying the cord clamping for as long as possible and ideally after the mother has birthed the placenta. If this is not possible, then consider waiting until:

  1. After the baby takes its first breath
  2. After 30 seconds from birth
  3. After 3 minutes or so after birth
  4. After the cord stops pulsing

World Health Organisation (2013/2014) recommends:

Waiting to cut the cord until at least one to three minutes after birth or after the cord stops pulsating. This leads to improved infant and maternal health.

When does the cord stop pulsing?

Did you know you can actually feel the cord pulsing? It feels like a pulse through a thick udon noodle. According to Dr Rachel Reed (2015), textbooks will tell you it stops pulsing between 3-7 minutes, but she has felt cords pulse for longer than that.

Hold the baby below the placenta

Once the baby is born, where it is placed (ie; on mothers chest) will impact how quickly the placenta can transfer the extra blood. If the infant is held below the level of the placenta, then this accelerates the transfusion of blood from placenta to baby (Buckley 2009). For a baby who is being held skin-to-skin on the mothers chest, a five minute delay will allow enough time for the baby to receive all its blood from the placenta (Mercer and Erikson-Owens 2012).

Cesarean births

According to Dr Buckley (2009), several studies have shown that respiratory distress can be eliminated (babies can establish breathing easier) when they have been allowed to receive their full placental transfusion (their full blood supply from the placenta).

In a cesarean birth, it’s possible to request that the doctor wait until your baby takes its first breath before cutting the cord. The baby can also be positioned lower than the placenta and the blood can be ‘milked’ from the cord to the baby to help it establish breathing and receive it’s normal blood volume (Emerson 2011).

So, when writing your birth preferences, be sure to include your ideas surrounding delayed cord clamping and make sure your care provider knows your wishes!

References:

Abalos E. (2009 March 2). Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes. The WHO Reproductive Health Library. Retrieved 9 July, 2015 from http://apps.who.int

Buckley, S. (2009). Gentle birth, gentle mothering: A doctor’s guide to natural childbirth and gentle early parenting choices. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press.

Cernadas, C. (2006, March 7). Early versus Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping in Preterm Infants. The WHO Reproductive Health Library. Retrieved 9 July from http://apps.who.int

Emerson, K. (2011, September 8). Cesarean section and delayed cord clamping. Retrieved July 9, 2015 from cord-clamping.com

Emerson, K. (2012, July 13). Birth Plan for delayed cord clamping. Retrieved July 9, 2015 from cord-clamping.com

Enning, C., & Smith, C. (2007). Placenta: The gift of life : The role of the placenta in different cultures and how to prepare and use it as medicine. Eugene, Oregon: Motherbaby Press.

McDonald, S., Middleton, P., Dowswell, T., & Morris, P. (2013, July 11). Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Retrieved July 9, 2015 from onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Mercer, JS., & Erickson-Owens, DA (2012). Rethinking placental transfusion and cord clamping issues.Retrieved July 9, 2015 from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Reed, R. (2015, May 1). The Placenta: Essential resuscitation equipment. Retrieved July 9, 2015 from midwifethinking.com

World Health Organisation (2013). Delayed clamping of the umbilical cord clamping to reduce infant anaemia.Retrieved July 9th, 2015 from www.who.int

World Health Organisation (2014). Delayed umbilical cord clamping for improved maternal and infant health and nutrition outcomes. Retrieved July 9th, 2015 from www.who.int

Should you keep your placenta?

When you have a baby, you’ll need to make a decision on what to do with your placenta. I’ve heard many mothers regretfully tell me they didn’t even look at their placenta after birth and how they wish they had. It is a fascinating organ that you grew and that nurtured your baby. I’m passionate about sharing information so that you know that you have options and you can make the choice that is right for you.

There are as so many differing beliefs and customs around what ‘should’ be done with the placenta after birth. Some cultures believe it needs to be buried, some people dehydrate the cord as a keepsake for the child and placentaphagy and placenta encapsulation is becoming increasingly popular.

In many western countries, the placenta is considered clinical waste and many women leave their placenta’s at the hospital to be disposed of. Birth is all about the baby and the placenta may be given little thought at the time.

If the mother wishes to take her placenta home, she is more than welcome to. It is usually placed in a plastic bag and then into a bucket.

You can plant it!

If you decide you’d like to do something with your placenta- burying it under a special tree is easy and can be a nice ceremonial process. If it is buried under a fruit or flowering tree, then each year it is a reminder of the organ that nurtured and helped your baby grow. Kids usually love picking flowers or eating the fruit from ‘their special tree’. If you are renting, you can always plant the tree in a big pot so it can be moved to your next place. I’ve heard countless stories of women with their childrens’ placenta’s still in their freezer at home- waiting for the right time or place to bury it. There is a sense of respect for the placenta and a desire to honour its role in the pregnancy and birthing journey. Burial is one such way!

You can keep it attached!

Have you heard about lotus birth? This is the practice of leaving the placenta attached to the baby until the cord naturally falls off in it’s own time (without cutting it). This usually happens in a few days to a week. Some people believe there is a spiritual connection between the placenta and baby and that it’s best to allow the baby to choose the time to let go of the organ that sustained it. Once the cord has fallen off the baby, the placenta is usually buried.

You can eat it!

Get over the ‘eww’ factor and read on!

More and more women are choosing to consume their placenta. There are many ways to go about this. Placenta encapsulation has become the more socially preferred method and is becoming increasingly popular by the day. This is a process that turns the placenta into capsules that look and taste like other vitamins or minerals. The placenta contains many beneficial nutrients, hormones and vitamins that can help the new mother.

Scientific studies have been published that link placenta consumption with increased milk production.

Advocates of placenta encapsulation have found that ingesting the placenta helps improve moods, balance emotions, increase milk supply, increase energy, reduce bleeding, boost iron levels and aid in a quicker recovery from birth.

Further research needs to be done to scientifically validate the anecdotal evidence.

In my personal experience, the majority of women who have tried placenta encapsulation have enjoyed many positive benefits and then become enthusiastic to recommend it to their friends.

Testimonials often include comments like:

  • The capsules are having a really positive effect on my mood

  • I have excellent energy levels

  • I’m amazed at how fast I have recovered after giving birth

  • My milk is abundant

Placenta encapsulation is particularly worthwhile to consider if you are low in iron, have had previous postnatal depression or have had low milk supply in the past. New motherhood brings many challenges, so why not make this time a little easier?

Even if you’re not ready to decide what you want to do with your placenta yet, I recommend making a plan to keep your placenta so that you can keep your options open and avoid any ‘placenta regrets’.

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about placentas. Please make contact!