PLACENTA PILLS: Do They Really Work?
With Kim Kardashian recently announcing that she is taking vitamin pills made from her newborn son Saint’s placenta, I thought I would share my own experience of placenta encapsulation while discussing some of the pros and cons of the pills.
Like Kim, I was keen to encapsulate my son Shiloh’s placenta after hearing about its amazing ability to ward off postnatal depression. So after doing some extensive research and finding a legitimate placenta encapsulation expert via the IPEN (Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network), I thought ‘What do I have to loose?’ After all, it’s not like I’m frying up my son’s placenta with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, I would be literally popping a pill.
But what exactly are placenta pills and how are they made?
Costing around £150 for 80 to 200 capsules (depending on the size and condition of your placenta), there are two common practices of preparing placenta for consumption in capsules. The most common and widely used is the Traditional Chinese Medicine method, the second and my method of choice is the Raw Placenta preparation. Unlike the Chinese Medicine preparation where the placenta is steamed with herbs, before being grinded in to a powder and encapsulated, with the raw method, instead of being steamed the placenta is dehydrated. Although one method is not meant to be any better than the other, I decided to go with the raw method on the belief that no further nutrients would be lost in the preparation process.
With my preparation method decided, it was time to set the plan in action. First came the sourcing of a tupperware large enough to contain the placenta, then once in labour my husband was to inform the hospital of my plans and send a text to my placenta expert informing her of my labour, followed by another text to say the placenta is ready for collection. Despite my painful three day labour, all went smoothly on the placenta front and a week later my placenta pills arrived; Complete with a pretty little container, instructions, a well-informed leaflet and a home made bath bomb to aid healing. Far more pleasant than I was expecting and not in the least bit grusome.
Which begs the question, would I take them again? Well, before I answer that, lets look at the most commonly associated pro’s and con’s of placenta pills to get a full understanding of the debate around the pills.
Placenta pills have been shown to improve the mood of new mothers, warding off postnatal depression thanks to its high levels of Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), responsible for reducing stress levels and the cuddle hormone Oxytocin.
Consuming the oxytocin in your baby’s placenta has also been shown to improve lactation.
Incredibly rich in iron, amino acids, and essential fats, placenta pills can replace vital nutrients lost through pregnancy. They can also help you heal faster and make bleeding lighter thanks to their stem cells and growth factors. (Typically woman bleed after birth for 3-6 weeks, however woman who have consumed their baby’s placenta usually have much lighter bleeding for just 7 to 10 days.)
They can boost your energy levels.
Placenta pills have anti-ageing benefits thanks to their high levels of vitamin E (known for healing damaged skin cells), Cytokines – Fibroblasts (known for triggering cell metabolism healing, replacing damaged cells and tissue) and stem cell and growth factors. It makes sense, if Sheep placenta is used in beauty products to minimise signs of ageing, why wouldn’t the consumption of human placenta have anti-ageing benefits.
By eating your placenta in pill form it takes away the unappetizing aspect of having to eat your placenta either cooked or raw.
Many people in western cultures feel it is taboo, unappetizing and close cannibalism.
Some women have reported the extra hormone boost sent them into overdrive, causing serious mood swings that went away when they stopped having placenta pills.
Some experts claim there is no nutritional benefit to humans from eating their baby’s placenta.
There is no solid medical evidence of any health benefits, according to most scientific professionals.
So in response to the question 'Would I take placenta pills again?', the answer in short is yes. In spite of reports claiming there is no proof that placenta pills have any effect on new mums, I experienced many of the positives mentioned in my pros list. Most notably, the speed at which I healed (my bleeding ceased after just 7 days post labour) and my increased energy (I was back exercising four times a weeks at just four weeks postpartum, despite not having any sleep).
On the postnatal depression front, it is harder to comment, since I don’t know if I would have had it anyway but what I can say is that I was going through an extremely stressful time (on top of the stress of a new baby) and I somehow managed to cope. Whether or not that was the placenta pills, we’ll never know for sure. Same goes for the lactation, since I didn’t have an issue producing enough milk and the anti-agining benefits, only God knows what I would have looked like had I not taken them. However what I do know, is that I believe I benefited from taking my placenta pills, so much so, that I will be taking them again when baby number two comes along.
Words by Alicia Irvine-MacDougall
Are you thinking about taking placenta pills? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.