Disclaimer: I am not a physician and this should not be constituted as medical advice.
I've decided to share a little about one of my experiences with postpartum depression and how placenta tincture saved me in the end. It's hard to talk about, but the need for new parents to know they aren't alone trumps that.
I learned about placenta encapsulation after a very rough bout of postpartum depression. With the next kiddo, I dove into placenta encapsulation with open arms. And then with the kiddo after that, a friend came over and processed it for me. She included a tincture, though admittedly I knew nothing about them at the time. Fast forward 4 years and I found myself with newborn twins and even worse postpartum depression than the first time I had experienced it. I had prepared my placenta in my usual way- frozen raw in quarter sized pieces for daily consumption. It helped noticeably. I still spent a fair amount of time crying, but my husband could tell if I had had my placenta smoothie or not. Sadly, the number of pieces left got lower and lower. Once I ran out, the depression completely consumed me. I was able to meet everyone's most basic needs, sans my own, and that was about it. Reluctantly, I finally broke down and gave pharmaceuticals a try. After about 2 weeks I started feeling a little better. Slowly I got a little hope. Then on the 3rd week, I experienced a delayed allergic reaction. The little hope I had acquired quickly diminished.
A few weeks later I was rummaging through the supplement shelf and found a dark blue amber bottle- the placenta tincture my friend had made me. It hit me so hard, I couldn't believe I had forgotten about it. I immediately took several drops and within an hour or so I could feel a difference. The relief I experienced was incredible. The depression slowly lifted while I continued to take a much more reasonable dosage for a few weeks and then tapered off of it completely.
So what is the tincture? Quite simply, It is a piece of raw placenta suspended in 100 proof vodka (Other methods are available if you need to avoid alcohol for any reason). The tincture sits for six weeks, then can be consumed. The tincture is very powerful, just one drop is the equivalent of approximately one placenta capsule!
Utilizing this method can extend the "life" of your placenta supplement by quite some time and it never spoils. It can be used for subsequent postpartum, PMS, menopause and anytime in between that your hormones need a little help balancing. For those who experience mood disorders outside of the childbearing year as well as those who are prone to postpartum depression, the tincture can extend the use of the placenta from several weeks/a few months (just capsules) to over a year depending on dosage and frequency of dosage.
If you have additional questions about placenta tinctures send us an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: The tincture can be made from your already dehydrated and encapsulated placenta as well!
Doing a search on doulamatch.net will show you that many doulas are offering placenta encapsulation, but upon reviewing their website it is not mentioned or there is little mention about how they came to offer it. You may also find several names that come up in your area when you do a Google or Facebook search. What's an expecting parent to do?! How do you know who to entrust with this service? After all, you only have one placenta to work with. STL Postpartum takes placenta encapsulation seriously and we've put together a few ideas of things to look for or questions to ask to determine if your specialist is right for you.
Who did they train with or learn from?
There are several organizations that offer training for placenta encapsulation. These organizations provide crucial information regarding the care of the placenta from birth through pick up and processing. There is special care involved regarding the time the placenta is at room temperature after birth, how, when and where it is transported and processed, and even the preparation for processing! Self taught may not be off the table, but if your encapsulator is claiming self taught, you may want to ask very specific questions.
When will the placenta be picked up and how long until it will be processed?
As I mentioned, this is important information. The placenta is a raw organ and has time frames that it can be at room temperature or even at refrigerated temperature. Over the years we have seen some horror stories in regards to the hold time of placentas. You want to know specifics as to when the placenta will be picked up, how it will be kept at proper temperatures, how it will be transported, and how long it will be held until processing.
What process do they use to prepare your placenta for encapsulation?
This may vary between encapsulators as well as client preferences. Some good questions to ask are if they encapsulate in the clients home or their own work space, what procedures they follow to ensure cleanliness and prevent risk of cross contamination, and if they offer raw preparation or steamed.
What is the timeline?
Optimally, placenta capsules should begin being consumed within the first week after birth. Ask your encapsulator what their timeline tends to look like, and what may possibly cause delays.
Some who are looking for this service may be unsure if they really want to give it a try and some may know they are prone to postpartum mood disorders and they depend on their placenta to help alleviate those challenges. Your specific situation will create different wants and needs in your experience with placenta encapsulation.
We hope this helps you choose a placenta specialist that is the best fit for you!
Looking for a placenta encapsulation specialist in the St. Louis area? Send us a message and we would be happy to discuss how we can help! www.stlpostpartum.com/placenta.html
In my first twin post we talked a little bit about choosing your care provider carefully (or deciding you may not want one!), this week we are going to dive into best practices for a healthy, full term twin pregnancy.
Eating for THREE! Your body still needs all of its nutrition, and each twin's placenta needs optimal nourishment. Typically, when the placenta isn't fully nourished that's when you start to see complications start creeping up. We don't want that! If you've chosen a homebirth midwife, a lot of them begin placing restrictions and ultimatums when complications start showing up.
Before we go any farther, I need to remind you that I am not a licensed medical professional, and I am not endorsed by any three letter entities. What I share is based on my research and experience, I highly recommend you research every decision you make!
What I found to be the most helpful information came from three principles of the Brewer Pregnancy Diet.
These three things are very important to any pregnancy. Your blood volume increases by over 60% during pregnancy, real salt helps keep the fluid in your veins where it belongs. Swelling isn't extra fluid, it's misplaced fluid. Real salt is also full of micronutrients your body needs. Pink Himalayan salt and Celtic Grey salt are examples of real salt. Table salt/sodium= bad! Real Salt= very good.
Protein! The Brewer Pregnancy diet suggests 80g of protein daily for a singleton pregnancy and 40 additional grams daily for each baby. This lands us at 120g for a twin pregnancy. Protein is essential, make sure you are varying the source so you are getting all of the amino acids. Vegetarians/Vegans- Chia seeds and hemp seeds are your BFF! This is admittedly very difficult to achieve. Between not feeling hungry and literally not having room in my abdomen for a meal, I quickly found small meals with protein as the center point to be the key. Another trick, I used a good nutrition app to help me keep track of my intake. It kept track of protein but also had separate tabs for micro and macro nutrients, so I could keep an eye on my vitamin levels.
As far as staying hydrated, you have to put in maximum effort here. Some ideas that are more satisfying than plain water include: bone broth, sole water, and real fruit juice without added sugar. You can also add chia seeds to juice to get a boost of protein in with your drink! Drink to thirst while making sure you are getting enough!
Here is a link to more information about twin pregnancy from a nutritional standpoint- www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id32.html
Here is a direct link to the page where they discuss the twin "diet" www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id9.html
The Brewer "diet" is a lot of food and some times difficult to decipher. There are facebook groups for it, those can be rather helpful.
Another newer resource that provides great information is the book Real Food For Pregnancy by Lily Nichols. (link-www.amazon.com/dp/0986295043/?coliid=IS6131L71OGZ5&colid=3HMM9QIR0SGX2&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it )
She also has a follow up book: Real Food for Gestational Diabetes. I highly recommend you check them out!
Nutrition aside, twin pregnancy can be very hard. I've come across some people who have had no indication of twins until they were surprised at a 20 week ultrasound or even at birth.
I myself just had symptoms that were very different from previous pregnancies. With pregnancies 1-4, my only "symptom" was heartburn. Almost immediately following conception up until birth. With pregnancy #5, the twins, everything was different. A little nauseous. A little light-headed. More tired than I had ever felt. Something was definitely different for me. Just passed the first trimester I began to have shortness of breath after any activity, even with things as simple as going up the stairs. The anticipated heartburn followed shortly after, with a vengeance.
Some find their twin pregnancy not much difficult than a singleton pregnancy. Some stop working around 20 weeks while others continue to work up to 38 weeks! Above all your nutrition will be a major key in your health, make sure you keep yourself and your placentas nourished!
Congratulations! If you landed here, it's likely because you just received a major shock while at an ultrasound appointment. Let's commiserate for a moment.
When I was freshly pregnant, around 6 weeks, I was explaining to my 3 year old who had just weaned that he could not touch my boobs anymore. Attempting to do that serious-conversation-with-a-toddler-who-is-only-half-listening thing, I told him about the baby in my belly and how my boobs were extra sore now. Oliver had begun rolling around on the bed by now. He stopped, looked at me and said, "there's a brother in there!"
"And a sister!"
If you could imagine, I just stared with my mouth hanging open for a minute. Our previous two births were freebirths and for the first time, we were planning to forgo any and all modern pregnancy interventions. I came down and told my husband what had been said with a "why would he say that" kind of attitude. We exchanged glances, semi-concerned over how I was having different pregnancy symptoms that I had with my other 4 pregnancies. We decided to go to a local ultrasound boutique to see if Oliver's statement held any truth. We didn't mention the toddler's assumption, we just went in for the appointment as I assume most people do. The ultrasound tech set the doppler down and one lettle amniotic sac and squirmy, tiny baby popped up on the screen. IMMEDIATE RELIEF. Ok, whew. I started to relax bit and reassure myself that this would be ok. Our short ten minute scan was drawing to a close. The tech said something along the lines of "I'm just going to..."
Then she gasped.
Then I gasped.
Surprise! Then there were two. Separate amniotic sacs, separate placentas, two separate babies.
If you are new to the twin game, let me help you differentiate the types of twins really quick, because no matter what (girl/girl, girl/boy, boy/boy, blonde/brunette, brown eyes/blue eyes, curly hair/straight hair, VERY different skin tones, you will be asked if they are identical)
Di/Di: Two separate everything- amnion, chorion, placenta. The egg split late in conception OR there were two eggs dropped that month. Di/Di twins still have about a 30% chance of being identical (those are the ones who shared an egg and it split), despite what some physicians will tell you. Di/Di twins from separate eggs are literally siblings that happened to be conceived and born at the same time. Actually, they can be conceived separately. Look up superfetation. It's a fascinating thing.
Mo/Di: One chorion, one placenta, two amnion. These identical twins had an egg that split mid-conception. They share their placenta but have separate sacs within the outer sac.
Mo/Mo: One of everything (except the babies!) One amnion, one chorion, one placenta. This is what most non-twin folk think every twin is. This egg split early in conception.
Another very important thing to note- you will soon hear everyone's negative stories, so brace yourself!
Now that we went over that, you have a very important question to answer to yourself that will determine a very wide range of things over the next several months.
What kind of pregnancy experience do I want, and where and how do I want to birth them?
Your decision here will affect a multitude of things and likely how your pregnancy will go. Coming from a freebirth mindset, the decision to hire a midwife was difficult to make, but my mental health was not in a great state and that was what my family and I needed at that time. You may find great comfort in knowing that many women go on to have successful freebirths or midwife attended homebirths with twins. Many others go on to have vaginal hospital births. Some opt for a c-section, or a provider that does not give them an option to birth vaginally.
Maybe you already have a care provider, but need to rethink if they are the right one for your newfound circumstances. Ultimately, this is a very important decision but it can be made again down the road if you find yourself unhappy with your care.
Carefully evaluate your health, needs and wants to make your decision. I truly despise the saying, "a healthy baby is all that matters" but of course that is important.
This may prove to be a difficult task to take on. My suggestion is to interview around! Listen to the way they speak, the precautions or policies they follow, how they respond to your choices, or potential choices, and their being open to acknowledging this is YOUR experience. Believe it or not, you do still have choices when it comes to having twins. Use your best judgement, find the best care provider for you and your situation (even if thats you!), and enjoy your twin pregnancy!
I'll be back soon for more on my twin pregnancy/birth, our early postpartum, and how I was affected by Postpartum Depression.
Finding a placenta encapsulation specialist in your area might be simple, or very difficult! We put together a small list of ways you might be able to find one in your area.
1. Check with local doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, midwives, and family centered chiropractors. Placenta specialists usually connect with these types of businesses because they offer complimentary services.
2. Check listings of placenta encapsulation certifying agencies. This will likely get you names, but many placenta specialists choose not to certify so it will not be an inclusive list. Some certifying agencies are: IPPA, APPA, and Brilliant Birth Academy.
3. Ask in your social media circles! You would be surprised at how many new mothers are choosing to encapsulate their placentas. If you friends or mom group companions cannot produce a local name, they might know someone who does!
4. In the event that you do not have someone near you who does placenta encapsulation, reach out to a specialist in a nearby city. There are ways that placentas can be shipped, or they might be willing to drive outside their service area for an additional fee.
One thing to be wary of is someone in a different profession offering to do your placenta for free. While it is not difficult to encapsulate on your own there are important guidelines to uphold to ensure you do not unintentionally contaminate the placenta! Placenta specialists receive special training on bloodborne pathogens, time and temperature controls, how to check for spoilage, when it is not safe to encapsulate, medical or medicinal contradictions, guidelines for dosage, etc. You only get one placenta per birth (unless you are having multiples, but you get the idea!), be sure to entrust it to a properly trained professional.
If you would like to contact us to help you find someone in your area, we would be happy to assist you.
At one time, many expecting parents considering placenta encapsulation might ask "but do they work?"
The answer depends heavily on your expectations and several external factors. Lets look at several of the touted benefits, possible adverse effects and what it might mean for you.
Increase in breastmilk
Decreased postpartum bleeding
Replenish B vitamins
Balancing of hormones
Natural pain relief
Replenishing iron stores/preventing anemia
consistent flow of oxytocin after birth
Preventing and lessening of risk of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety
Possible Adverse Reactions
In my 8 years of professional encapsulation, none of my clients have experienced adverse reactions.
I have however seen two or three others say they experienced things such as: headache, heart palpitations, and stomach ache.
What does this mean for you?
Like many other decisions you have been making surrounding your pregnancy, birth and parenting, the choice to ingest your placenta is one that should be done after research. This is a supplement. You will still need to take certain measures to maintain your milk supply, it is normal and healthy to bleed after birth, and it is normal to have some mood fluctuation in those first few months. Many sources suggest that the placenta can offer no adverse effects of its own, but rather it can agitate underlying issues. Most placenta specialists offer this advise- if you begin to notice undesirable side effects and believe the placenta capsules are a contributing factor- discontinue use until the symptoms subside. Once you resume taking the capsules, you should be able to determine if they are the culprit.
Having realistic expectations is essential. Paying attention to your body is essential as well. Be sure to entrust someone who is properly trained and is dedicated to the professionalism of processing placentas. If you have concerns your specialist should be able to answer them or reach out to their organization to clarify on tricky topics.
In recent years the art of placentophagy, or ingesting your placenta, has grown among birthing women. Many are eager to experience the potential benefits that it has to offer, benefits such as: reduced postpartum bleeding, increasing iron stores, increased breastmilk supply, and hormonal balancing. Still though, many remain undecided.
One of the main reasons typically encountered is due to the "ick" factor. The placenta is an organ. It has an intricate system of veins, many different types of tissues, and blood. It is very understandable why this may hold some people back. The encapsulation process will render you capsules that contain a course powder, similar to coffee grounds. Some placenta specialists have flavored capsules as well to further help make them more palatable.
Another perspective of this situation is that you only get one opportunity with this placenta. If you are uncertain, our placenta specialist wants to give you some basic guidelines so that should you choose to encapsulate at a later time, your placenta will still be good to use.
First, let your partner, midwife or care provider know that you intend to keep your placenta.
Second, have supplies ready. If you are birthing at home a gallon sized freezer bag will work. If birthing in a birth center or hospital, they usually have a container that they put it in for you. Be sure to check ahead of time.
Third and perhaps most important: Timing! As mentioned, the placenta is an organ. It is capable of spoilage and contamination. The placenta can remain at room temperature for approximately 3 hours. This is more than ample time to enjoy that first "golden hour" with baby, massage that vernix in, and oversee any tests you opt for. Once the excitement begins to wind down and the cord has been cut, the placenta can be transferred to its container. From there, you'll want to place the container in the freezer. This allows you a much longer window of making your decision. We highly recommend using gallon freezer Ziploc bags and double bagging. If the placenta is in a plastic container from a facility, you can place the container into the Ziploc bag. The placenta could remain frozen for several months if packaged properly, but for optimal benefits for mom ingestion should begin within the first week of postpartum.
Quick Recap: Let your birth team know you intend to keep the placenta, have gallon sized freezer bags (2) available, and put the placenta into the freezer!
This method keeps the placenta from forming bacteria or becoming spoiled and allows you to make a final decision on if you would like to enjoy the benefits of placenta encapsulation! If you should choose that encapsulation is not for you, keep in mind that it is illegal in most (if not all) states to dispose of the placenta in the public waste system. Most families who are conscious of the value of the placenta but not interested in ingestion choose to bury the placenta and plant something of meaning above it.
We hope this helps lessen all the decisions you will be making in those final weeks of pregnancy and early weeks of your postpartum. You can always contact us with any questions you have about the process!