Two mornings after Millie was born, I waddled my delicate hollow body to the car in the driveway, taking at least four minutes to navigate our two stairs out the door. It was a sunny day, and I in my finest jammy pants and ill-fitting tank top, made it to the passenger’s seat of the car, wiggly torso out front and bulging menstrual pad out back with my bagged purple placenta in hand to get my it encapsulated.
Yeah, I’m one of those.
Would I recommend taking a 20-minute drive down an old country road on day three to every new mom?
In fact, I wouldn’t wish some of Lunenburg county’s old bumpy roads upon my worst enemy –whether they were transporting a placenta or not. But to Blockhouse we went, while my newborn screamed in her plastic cage in the backseat, where we would deposit my organ which had taken up residence in the crisper of my fridge the days prior.
Because quite frankly, I wanted to eat it.
Just like a wild dog, or the tame as hell sheepdogs we worked alongside in Ontario while farming, I was pretty excited about getting my piece. After all, I’d worked pretty hard to grow that organ right out of thin air, I did.
But really, after having had what was just the most mammalian experience of my life three days prior as I lay in my own goo on blue pads placed strategically on my bed (thank you sweet, sweet midwives), I was more interested than ever to see what nature had in store for me.
For me, it was more a question of why not, than why.
So, as we arrived, I forced my husband Justin to take that little morsel of my body up to the doorstep of a past client and friend who now offers encapsulation services, which he did with his pinky finger in the air. There, it would be cut, placed in a dehydrator and transformed into a dusty powder to be poured into capsules like any other vitamin which I could take the following day.
Though to date, there have been no evidence-based scientific studies on humans to study the true affects of placentophagy, traditional Chinese medicine has made use of the placenta for thousands of years. What we do have today are anecdotal tales of postpartum mothers claiming things like improved iron levels resulting in increases in energy, an increase in milk production, better balance of hormones resulting in less postpartum depression and an overall happier postpartum experience. We also know for scientific fact that mammals, upon consumption, experience behavioural, chemical and nutritional benefits.
Here’s the deal: it’s not for everyone.
Because it scared the shit right out of my husband when we got the care package containing a cord keepsake in a flashy fabric bag, I know this much to be true. I also would not recommend using it as a conversation starter at say, the in-laws’ place.
But I am me, and my life is not one just anyone would choose to live. I chose to have a natural childbirth, and that’s not for everyone. I am choosing to live in 450 square feet among three other humans and that’s not for everyone. And eating an entire bag of Veggie Stix (a marketing ploy that has convinced me I’m not eating an entire bag of actual chips) while my baby nurses to sleep is not for everyone, but I do it, and I do it well. Don’t worry, I follow up with a placenta pill to “balance” my poor choices.
And it’s what I take on a Sunday night when the clock reads 11:15pm and my preschooler is still not asleep. After I’ve aggressively snuggled her under a too-tight blanket to contain what one can only assume to be 24 hour restless leg syndrome while watching yet another god damn cat documentary.
No, placenta consumption is not scientifically researched to rid me of my bag of chip habit, and it doesn’t promise to make my child go to bed earlier, but the idea of “popping a pill” is just way too inviting in these situations, placebo or not.
It’s not a magic potion. And it’s not a quick fix. But for me, it’s an option. And I like having resources and options.
This experience has certainly granted me better milk production, and a more relaxed ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude about her lack of sleep and general newborn crankiness. Whether it’s due to the placenta pills or a secret guardian angel is up for debate.
So, my bottle of organ sits alongside The Keg’s caesar salad dressing in my fridge. Sometimes it sits alongside another animal’s organs and it reminds me, once again, we are all just living the animal experience.
I birthed my baby from my body, I feed my baby from my body and like every other mammal out there, I am replenishing my body with the lifeline of what nourished my perfectly healthy baby for fourty-two weeks inside my womb.
I don’t have a study, but mother nature sure does, and I trust her. She’s laying right here in my lap, and that’s good enough scientific evidence for me.
Featured image of placenta pills via Flickr