One of my biggest worries for my first postpartum period was depression. It turned out to be unfounded -- I didn't have any "baby blues" so to speak, though I did have a few crying jags resulting from the certainty that I would somehow accidentally kill my baby, and the realization that "the parents" were never coming to pick him up and I was well and truly responsible for someone else for all eternity. This has, so far, worked out for the best, I'm glad to report, and this second postpartum time has been similarly depression-free. What I didn't bother worrying about, because it's impossible to imagine, was the crippling fatigue. It is, for those who don't know, the kind of tired that makes you a different person. A person who, partially thanks to the hormones, hates others who are sleeping or have recently slept. Add to that fatigue inherent in new parenthood a sort of big blood loss and you are, to put it plainly, screwed. A hateful, palefaced sweatpant-ed zombie.
Placenta encapsulation wasn't something that I'd heard too much about when I was pregnant with George. I knew people who'd kept them, buried them and planted trees which was nice, but not really for renters. It pains me a little to think that I wasted that first placenta because I didn't know better, remarking that it was cool as my midwife held it up, then okaying her to pitch it. Shortly after I became pregnant with Zelda, though, keeping in mind the blood loss I experienced at George's birth, and knowing placentas are iron-rich, I decided to have her placenta encapsulated and I contacted Doula David, Bellingham's placenta guru.
David showing me the different parts of Zelda's placenta and cord
This overview of the medicinal benefits of one's own placenta covers most of the reasons I chose to consume mine: preventing anemia, increasing milk production, increasing energy, and curbing depression, but it was really just bet-hedging. I figured I'd do it because it couldn't hurt, but I didn't expect much, results-wise. I've been surprised, however, at the noticeable difference in my mood, milk supply and energy level on the days when I forget to take the pills. I'm never raring to run laps around the block or anything, but even the smallest boost counts when you're teetering on the brink of I could fall asleep while standing here brushing my teeth and it's only 9am. There have been days when I've felt downright great after sleeping for five (non-consecutive, as if that needs to be mentioned to anyone with a newborn) hours and taking a few placenta pills. My recovery this time was fantastic, though a more significant blood loss meant lightheadedness for awhile when overdoing it (hello, mallwalking at 1 week pp; bad idea for myriad reasons) and between the placenta and fenugreek I'm taking I think I could feed triplets, though the 3 month old and 2 year old are pretty happy with the bounty.
Unlike some women I've heard talking about their partners' disgust at the idea of placenta consumption and citing that as a deterrent, I'm happy to say that my partner (neener neener) was never anything but supportive. He looked at the placenta with me after it was delivered, and just the other day we marveled together at the dried cord. I'm guessing that, because he's... you know, not a jerk, he values the fact that my body made this crazy amazing organ that nourished a baby -- our baby -- for many months, and continues to nourish me. In fact, he nightly delivers to me my vitamins and placenta pills on a little dish, often accompanied by a bowl of ice cream. Okay, now I'm just gloating.
Hedging my bets paid off; I'm so glad I didn't listen to the "alternative medicine" naysayers or the grossed out how-could-you?!ers. My only regret is that I didn't do it the first time. I wish George had a sweet placenta print like Zelda's, made out to him with love from our doula.