The placenta feeds a baby during pregnancy, and now more and more women in the U.S. are choosing to eat their placenta after it is born (as is common in some eastern cultures). In fact, almost all mammal mamas eat their placenta.
Proponents of placentophagy claim that there are many benefits to a mother, including increased milk supply and preventing the “baby blues” and postpartum fatigue. And there are many methods of eating your placenta—in a smoothie, in a capsule, in a stew, in chocolate, or just raw. Atlanta has many providers who will pick up your placenta from the hospital and deliver it processed to your home—and at least one provider will even fix you a refreshing placenta smoothie bed-side as you recover in the hospital.
There are many skeptics, and a lot has been written on placentophagy (see below for a few links). What little we know about possible benefits or risks of placentophagy is up to now anecdotal. In fact, the first study on the effects (if any) is being done right now at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"We hope to have some empirical data that can actually inform what sort of effects human placenta can have," Benyshek said. "It may in fact be that there are benefits and risks we don’t know about. Maybe it’s benign. Any of these are possible."
But maybe eating your placenta just isn’t for you. Maybe you choose to plant your placenta under a tree, or donate your placenta either to help heal burn victims or for training dogs to look for human remains. Or maybe you just prefer that someone else throws it away!
But the options don’t end there. There are many placenta artists, and now London-based sustainable designer Amanda Cotton is making placenta picture frames. The lovely necklaces below are made from a photograph of your placenta by an etsy artist. (https://www.etsy.com/listing/159669773/placenta-art-keepsake-necklace?ref=listing-shop-header-1)
The possibilities are endless. What will you do with your placenta?..
"The Placenta Cookbook," New York Magazine
Interview with Jodi Selander, Placenta Therapy
"Why I Ate My Placenta", Raising Natural Kids
“Five Tips for Eating Your Placenta”, Baby Zone
Atlanta providers: [See Baby does not endorse specific providers]
We all know that exercise is important for our health and happiness. Now a study has shown that exercise during pregnancy is not only beneficial to mothers by decreasing the chance of pregnancy complications, but is also beneficial to the baby’s brain development.
In addition to the usual recommendations of walking, swimming and riding a stationary bike during pregnancy, consider belly dancing as your exercise of choice! This low-impact aerobic workout is an ancient form of natural childbirth conditioning, and feels great!
Find out more about the benefits of belly dancing from doula Fiona Willis, who recently wrote an article on belly dancing for Midwife International:
The slow, undulating movements of belly dance not only mirror the instinctive movements women often make during labor, they help prepare women for birth– both physically and psychologically… the amazing benefits of this ancient dance form at different stages of the childbearing process, from positioning the baby, to easing powerful sensations and improving a woman’s body image.
The answer is whatever position works for you!
Women have always used movement, gravity and different positions during labor and delivery. During the 1700s, doctors made lying on a birth table popular (so that the doctor had a better view and more control over a delivery using forceps). But we now know that lying on your back actually collapses the diameter of your pelvic bones by up to an inch, and works against gravity to make delivery more difficult!
There is also a greater chance of perineal tearing when mom is on her back. One study found:
Of the 1,679 women (44.5%) who required perineal suturing, semi-recumbent position was associated with the need for perineal sutures, whereas all-fours was associated with reduced need for sutures; these associations were more marked in first vaginal births and newborn birth weight over 3,500 g. When regional anesthesia was used, semi-recumbent position was associated with a need for suturing, and lateral position associated with a reduced need for suturing.
Dr Bootstaylor offers the following thoughts:
When I speak with Moms, I encourage freedom of movement which is our natural response to discomfort & pain. And not to sit/lie still in some catatonic state. If one stumps their toe, you don’t stand still, you move around (vigorously, no less:). With labor and birth, the force of gravity and comfort of movement works together in alignment.
What’s important is that you are free to (and encouraged to) move around during labor and delivery, and able to find the birth position that works for you. If what works for you is lying on your back, than go for it!
At 28 weeks pregnant, one mom decided she needed to change care providers. She wrote about her experience with Intown Midwifery and See Baby on her blog, www.reallyareyouserious.com:
Always go with your instinct. Your gut. Your momma-ness.
When I decided that our previous OB wasn’t working for me any more (suggesting an induction because my “due date” is 12/31at my very first appointment), and looked into things, we went for it. And, it’s totally okay to switch practices mid-pregnancy. Even at 28 weeks. Or 30 weeks. Or 36 weeks. If you are unhappy with your provider, make a change. So, we changed practices at 28 weeks!
I’ve had one appointment, a one and two-hour glucose test and I’m already more comfortable there. They even have a changing table in the waiting room and a play area! That is huge!
At my first appointment, because of my pregnancy induced ITP (the platelet thing), the midwives at my practice (yes, no OBs are actually there), wanted me to meet with their consulting OB just to have a check over of me and mostly our little girl.
I’ve honestly never walked into a doctor’s office like this (yeah, no play area here), but it was amazing. Nice relaxing music playing, blue lights in the lamps, water for moms. It was almost like going to the spa. Dr. Bootstaylor’s office (SeeBaby) is nothing short of amazing.
We got to have a look at our little girl in 3D after they took some measurements and checked everything out (predicted weight at the time was 3lbs, 3oz). I think she looks just like her sisters!
She was pretty sleepy, so she wasn’t performing too much, but rubbing her eyes? The sweetest.
I had to include this one of her little legs crossed. In one of our very first pictures of the oldest after she was born, she has her legs crossed right at the ankle. (Yeah, I know, you might have to squint at it for a bit).
And, the whole thing was recorded, too. It was like 13 minutes, so I compressed it down to a little over a minute here (click over to see the 3D ultrasound video).
Then, we had our appointment with the doctor. Sitting in real chairs in a real office with just us and the doctor. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever sat in a doctor’s actual office. And he talked to us, like educated individuals. And asked us questions that let us know he looked over my file. And, told me that so much of the stuff I’ve been told before about my platelets and that I’ve had to do! Totally not science-based. Music to my ears! He respects us. He gave us time to talk. Nothing short of amazing.
And get this? The midwives wanted me to ask him something, and I think because I was in such awe I forgot to ask. So a couple days later, when I remembered, I called, thinking I would talk to a nurse. Nope, the receptionist got my info and told me the doctor would call me back.
WHAT? Doctors actually call patients? Unheard of!!!
He totally called me back. And talked to me for a good ten minutes explaining why he was saying what he said and made sure I fully understood.
The sad part? I probably and hopefully won’t have to see him again because I was cleared by him and the midwives will continue my care But, holy smokes. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more amazing experience at a doctor’s office.
Instead of dreading my next appointment, I’m looking forward to talking to the midwives, really having a full appointment where any questions will be fully addressed and I will be spoken to like a person with a brain!
Writing for Foxnews.com, Julie Revelant suggests 10 ways to cope with the fear of childbirth:
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but sometimes the fear of labor and delivery – as well as becoming a mom – can be overwhelming. If you’re anxious about giving birth, find out why you might be feeling this way and what you can do about it.
A woman’s body is designed to give birth, but TV shows, movies, and media messages often dramatize it. And as a woman grows up, “those images are ingrained in her head that birth is fearful, and it’s harmful,” according to Tara Owens Shuler, president of Lamaze International.
Unfamiliarity with the anatomy and physiology of the body, in addition to the birth process itself, can also cause a woman to be anxious and even doubt in her ability to give birth.
Taking into account induction, C-section, and pain relief options during pregnancy, the fear can be intensified. “Birth in some settings is seen as a medicalized event,” said Owens Shuler. She added some providers want to take control of a woman’s birth, and medical training often focuses on intervention, rather than on birth as a natural event.
“There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty that’s unspoken,” said Dr. Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, Calif. Lederer said apart from the pain, women deal with a host of emotions during pregnancy. They put expectations on themselves and stress out about giving birth naturally, bonding with their baby in utero, and being a good parent.
If you’re worried about giving birth, here are 10 ways to handle your fear.
A childbirth class can help you prepare, give you confidence, and manage your fears. A childbirth educator and a doula who provide information that isn’t fear-based can help debunk myths and give you ways to manage the pain, Owens Shuler said.
Choose your provider carefully
“We know that health care providers can profoundly affect women’s experience in birth,” Owens Shuler said. When looking for a provider, it’s important to ask questions and select someone who will build your confidence and support your decisions.
Let go of expectations
Many women put a time limit on labor, worry about opting for or against an epidural, and that other people will judge them for their decisions. And that pressure can impact your experience. “There aren’t any expectations except for the ones they put on themselves,” said Lederer, who runs a support group for expectant moms.
Try relaxation exercises
Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness meditation can all help to calm your body and your mind, so you’ll have less anxiety.
Use guided imagery
Practicing visualization can help you imagine a safe place if you start to feel overwhelmed during labor, Lederer said. Working with a therapist, childbirth educator, or support group is best but you can also download guided imagery exercises.
Make a mind body connection
Fear can cause labor to last longer, according to a recent study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. But if you bring awareness to what’s happening in your body during labor, you’ll be better able to deal with your emotions, Lederer said.
Stop the stories
Your friend’s childbirth experience may have been traumatic for her, and although she might think she’s being helpful with her advice, “it’s really information that fuels the anxiety,” Owen Shuler said.
Understand the purpose of pain
Unlike any other type of pain, pain during labor and delivery doesn’t need to be fixed and it actually serves a purpose—to bring your baby into the world. If you recognize why it’s there and know ways you can cope with it, you’ll feel more confident in dealing with it.
Make it your own experience
Instead of comparing yourself to other moms, make decisions based on what you can handle and how you react in a situation, Lederer said.
Talking about your fears in a support group setting or with supportive mothers can help ease your anxiety. If your fear of childbirth is overwhelming, however, you might want to speak with a therapist.
“We’ve long known that a mammal’s lungs are the last organ to develop in utero before it is baby’s time to exit. Disrupting this normal process (and initiating/inducing labor to start before a baby triggers labor on his/her own) frequently causes a cascade of complications - from difficulty in latch, poor breathing, increased infection, decreased immunity, under development, failure to thrive, and an increase in SIDS.”
“Now, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers have found that it is in fact the fetal lungs themselves which provide the signal to initiate labor.”
“Drs. Carole Mendelson, Jennifer Condon and Pancharatnam Jeyasuria published findings that a substance secreted by the lungs of a developing fetus contains the key signal that initiates labor.”
“The protein released from the lungs of a developing mouse fetus initiates a cascade of chemical events leading to the mother’s initiation of labor. This research, which has implications for humans, marks the first time a link between a specific fetal lung protein and labor has been identified, said Mendelson, professor of BioChemistry and Obstetrics and Gynecology and senior author of the study. Their research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is currently available online here.”
“The initiation of term labor is carefully timed to begin only after the embryo is sufficiently mature to survive outside the womb. Previous studies suggested that the signal for labor in humans may arise from the fetus, but the nature of the signal and actual mechanism was unclear. In this study, researchers found that the key labor triggering substance, surfactant, is essential for normal breathing outside the womb.”