If you're pregnant and looking for information on encapsulating your placenta, you've come to the right place. Although it's a practice that at first sounds bizarre to some, many women are finding that consuming their placenta in the days and weeks after giving birth helps make the transition from pregnancy to having a new baby smoother. In addition to emperical data, there is some scientific data that suggests placenta is a helpful postpartum supplement.
During pregnancy, the baby grows an organ called the placenta. The placenta is roughly disc shaped and about three quarters of an inch thick. From one side, the baby's umbilical cord travels out of the placenta and into the baby's belly. A few days or weeks after he's born, the place where the umbilical cord attaches will be his belly button. The other flat side of the disc shaped placenta is attached to the firmly to uterus.
The placenta is an amazing organ. Just like we have a "blood-brain barrier" to keep many unwanted things out of our brains, there is also a "placental barrier" which protects the unborn baby from some potential dangers. Because the unborn baby does not eat or breathe yet, the placenta delivers his nutrients, the energy and building blocks he needs to grow, and his oxygen, while also removing the waste products that his lungs will exhale after he is born. The placenta also produces hormones which are responsible for maintaing pregnancy, developing the mammary glands for breastfeeding, ensuring the unborn baby is highly nourished from the mother's own nutritional intake, and more. There is some scientific speculation that it is the placenta which is responsible for starting labor.
Scientific research on placental consumption is limited, and most studies are small and fairly old. One thing we know about consuming the placenta is that most land mammals do it instinctively. There are some links to placental hormones and postpartum depression which haven't been well studied. For example, postpartum depression is frequently accompanied by progesterone deficiency or instability. Because the placenta produces progesterone during pregnancy and then is suddenly removed from the woman's system, women who are sensitive to this change may be at higher risk for postpartum mood disorders. It has been posited that the replacement of progesterone through placental supplementation may reduce the incidence and severity of postpartum depression. Similarly, replacement of estrogen may support the quantity and quality of breastmilk in new mothers. Both estrogen and progesterone reach very low points during the first months postpartum, and their replacement may be beneficial.
Placenta is an organ meat, rich in iron and high in protien. All women experience some blood loss during childbirth. Nutritional iron supplementation from a food source is an ideal way to raise hemoglobin after blood loss.