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Placenta Encapsulation

Mandala JourneyArt: The Mandala Journey

It’s an ancient practice,

taking in the power of the placenta.

Each time I consume a part of my child’s after-birth,

I feel strength returning to my bones,

I feel milk filling my breasts,

my feet are more grounded,

my heart is more purposeful,

and my mind is clearer.

As I lift a capsule to my lips,

I thank my baby

for the nourishment she provides my body.

Annabelle left us 2 months after she was born,

a victim of SIDS.

Although I could not heal her body,

she continues to heal mine.

And so I whisper her name reverently;

thank you, from the deepest part of my being,

Annabelle.

Jeanette, mother of 3

 

I am a placenta specialist; I am also a doula. I am not a shaman, an herbalist, a homeopath, or a mide wewe. I am only a placenta specialist and doula. Some would say this is depreciating, but I see it as a servant’s heart–the capacity to humble ourselves so that the women we serve can be lifted up. Why is this so important when I talk about preparing placentas? Because serving a woman by preparing her child’s after-birth is a humbling service. Just as birth allows for no do-overs, so honoring a placenta is a once-in-it’s-lifetime opportunity.

Besides Western American culture, most other cultures use and honor the placenta. I am a servant of cultural practices and ancient wisdom, that wisdom and belief that runs through the woman’s body and spirit. As a servant of the mother/baby unit, my role sometimes translates into becoming a servant of the placenta as well. And so I honor it.

HPM

 

I often wonder who couldn’t honor it, considering the miraculous nature of the placenta…

This organ that her child has created to sustain its life while in the womb is a miracle in itself. It is the only organ that is grown to be temporary, and sheds itself after its primary use is finished. There is both a fetal and a maternal component to the placenta as well, so it is actually a product both of conception and the mother’s body–another completely unique quality of the placenta.

The amazing placenta also transmits and produces hormones, sending messages advocating fetal demands to the mother’s body and helping to care for and grow the baby while also hiding it from the mother’s body so that the mother’s body doesn’t see baby or placenta as invaders.

Science supports the practice of placenta consumption, and evidence of it can be found both in what we know currently and what studies have shown in the past. The hormonal interplay between mother and child is retained in the placenta, and the placenta itself, offer healing properties to the mother after birth.

 

  • Prolactin: promotes lactation
  • Gonadatropins helps promote breast tissue growth, stabilizes postpartum moods, regulates uterine cramping, decreases the
  • incidence of depression, and stimulates libido
  • Stem Cells: promote immunological health and stimulates cellular reproduction
  • Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: slows/stops bleeding and promotes wound healing
  • Oxytocin: decrease perception of pain and increases bonding in mother and infant
  • Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF): Stimulates the production of endorphins; reduces pain; increases a sense of well-being
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events
  • Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH): combats stress and provides energy
  • Interferon: stimulates the immune system
  • Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatories
  • Iron: reduces anemia, promotes energy
  • Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections
Sage BeginningsPhoto: Sage Beginnings Doula Services

And then there is the most powerful evidence, the woman’s intuitive knowledge that the organ that she and her child shared during their time of growth together can now nourish her as a mother. Let’s not discount this deep knowing that something considered so temporary could have such a lasting effect on a woman’s health postpartum.

And so, as I lift a placenta from its container and lay it out before me, I ask it to reveal itself to me. Placentas tell stories: what type of diet did mother have, what lifestyle choices can be recalled through careful scrutiny? What mirror does this provide us to baby’s birth journey, or the baby itself? I trace the lines of the tree of life. I feel for perfection and variations. I lift the cord and run my fingers the length of it. I examine the mother’s side, memorizing the ridges and valleys. I hold the sac up to the light and feel its tautness. I note the hues that run across the body of the placenta.

I am holding a miracle, the space that a newly born called home for the duration of its time inside its mother vessel. And I photograph it, I rarely don’t. To create a memorial for what it is before it becomes a capsule for the mother–as the mother once was a capsule for it. And so I serve the placenta. I honor it and treat it as a transitioning being–as mother and baby is. I serve the mother/baby unit. I am only a placenta specialist and doula.

About the Author
Cole Deelah
Author: Cole DeelahWebsite: http://www.houstondoulas.org
Cole Deelah is a doula, midwife apprentice, and childbirth educator who has been educating and counseling pregnant women for 13 years. Cole developed an independent childbirth curriculum after having been certified for a number of years. She is the former president of the Nashville Birth Network and is a community advocate for natural birthing and the rights of birthing women and families. Her articles have been published in both The International Doula Magazine (Doulas Of North America Publication) and Midwifery Today Magazine. She is also the author of the international childbirth education blog, Bellies and Babies. Locally, Cole is one of the founding members of the Houston Doula Cooperative, a speaker at the annual Houston BIRTH Fair, a guest on KPFT radio’s Whole Mother and the independent childbirth educator of choice at UTMB. Cole is the mother of five amazingly talented, formerly breastfed, and currently homeschooled children.

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