A common question I get asked is how I got into encapsulating placentas. It’s not exactly your run of the mill job or one you can find in the Help Wanted section of Craigslist. So how did I get into this gig? I guess it starts with my lifestyle and health choices.
When I was 17 I was diagnosed with a chronic digestive disease. For years following my diagnoses I juggled half a dozen different medications. I was always sick and my life was ruled by my disease. I was completely undependable at work and made it to class half the time if I was lucky. During my senior year in college I met my husband. He introduced me to natural healing with diet changes, herbs, and homeopathic remedies. It changed my life. Within 6 months I had stopped taking all my medications and was basically pain free. Today, I still have the occasional issue but I am no longer ruled by my disease. Because of my experience I am a true believer in natural healing. We try to live holistically. Instead of turning to medication first when we are ill we try to find natural remedies. We believe that prevention is better than treatment and is possible with a good, natural diet. (If you’re in the KC area check out Conveniently Natural. They provide healthy pre-made organic meals. It is awesome!)
Just in the past year placenta encapsulation has grown exponentially in popularity. When I was pregnant with my first child no famous actresses (see January Jones post) were raving about it to magazines. Very little media was out there. So, I first heard of placenta encapsulation from my midwife. I was pregnant and preparing for a home birth. Had I used an OBGYN chances are I would not be doing placenta encapsulation now.
During a prenatal visit my midwife asked what I would like to do with the placenta. She knew we believed in natural remedies and explained to me the benefits of ingesting my placenta for a healthy postpartum. At the time I thought that was disgusting and just plain crazy. I didn’t even research it or talk to anyone else that had done it. The gross factor took over. She then tried to convince me to freeze it and save it in case I changed my mind or if I wanted to plant it come spring time. There was no way I was storing any bodily organs in my freezer. It is strange how open I was to home birth, which I had never been exposed to before, and many other things but shunned such a powerful natural remedy. So, my placenta left my home in a red bio hazard bag never to be seen again. Today, I mourn the loss of that placenta and shake my head at my closed mindedness.
My postpartum was nothing terrible. I didn’t have any severe PPD or other major negative effects. I was extremely tired all the time but I thought this was normal. My daughter never slept. She was up every 30-45 minutes most nights screaming like a pterodactyl. I was sure that in itself was enough to explain the exhaustion not to mention I just had a baby and I was not used to getting less than 9 hours of sleep a night. So, I was a bit moody and maybe a little weepy. But who wouldn’t be, right? Turns out this is a classic case of baby blues but I didn’t realize that until later.
I honestly didn’t even think about placentas until my cousin went into labor with her first baby over a year later. She is a small lady and she had a BIG baby (over 10lbs). Her labor was very difficult, over 30 hours hard labor and several hours of pushing. There were some complications with the birth and the baby. He ended up spending 23 days in NICU and at the beginning no one was sure he would survive. (I am happy to say he is a thriving toddler now.) The mother also had some complications from the birth, a 4th degree interior tear among other things. I went to see her 2 days after the birth in the hospital. She was up walking around and she looked, well, great. Here she was dealing with so much physically and emotionally and she looked much better than I did after I had an easy, uncomplicated birth. What was her secret? You guessed it. Placenta capsules. Now, I know what you must be thinking. Some women deal with certain situations better than others but her husband and I both agree the capsules made a world of difference.
I was amazed. Did placenta capsules have such an effect on all women? I researched it, talked to countless midwives, doulas, and mothers who had their placentas encapsulated. The more I read and heard the more I was convinced that every women should have it done. It seemed like a miracle drug without all the crazy side effects. It was then that I realized that maybe my postpartum wasn’t as great as it could have been. Maybe I didn’t have to be exhausted for months, moody and weepy. I decided then that when I had my next baby I would absolutely get it done. I also wanted other soon-to-be moms to know about it. I asked my midwife for recommendations but there was no one certified in the Kansas City Area to encapsulate placentas. In fact, the closest Placenta Encapsulation Specialist through PBi was in Lawrence, KS. (Are you in that area? Check out Lily Mason.) My midwife suggested I become a PES. At first I thought it would be too much to handle and I already had quite a lot on my plate. I eventually decided I would only do it for friends and family but after my first placenta for a friend I knew I wanted to give as many women as possible the opportunity to encapsulate their placenta. She was so grateful and seemed content and happy which was the polar opposite of her postpartum after her first 2 children. Who was I to deny this to other women? I got certified through PBi, became educated in OSHA and EPA standards and received my food handler’s certificate as a private chef so that I could safely encapsulate all the mama’s placentas out there.
Today, I have encapsulated dozens of placentas and I love doing it. I have met many wonderful people along my journey: mothers, fathers, midwives, doulas, nurses, doctors and, of course, lots of tiny babies. I am very lucky I have the opportunity to help mothers, and ultimately, families as they begin their new journey.