Posted: Jan 14, 2014 9:00 AM
 
With my third child, my midwives encapsulated my placenta and explained the value of taking the pills during the postpartum period. Having suffered from severe postpartum depression with my first child and enduring horrible side effects from antidepressants with my second, I was very interested in hearing about a more natural solution. Here's my experience.

If you really want to freak somebody out, tell them you ate your placenta. Though I've heard of people literally eating it like food, most of us "eat" it in pill form, which is significantly less repulsive if you ask me. (Sorry. Yes, I personally find it rather repulsive to eat an organ that was ejected from my own body as if it were dinner. If you have done so, I don't find you repulsive, but I'm not sure I could stomach it. Ha.)

A lot of things are "unthinkable" until you're desperate and the "unthinkable" thing is one of your only options.

However, a lot of people find eating your placenta even in pill form rather disgusting if not downright twisted. But I admit, I did it. And I'll do it again.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. I would argue necessity is also the crow bar that pries open closed minds. A lot of things are "unthinkable" until you're desperate and the "unthinkable" thing is one of your only options.

Severe PPD

Allow me to explain: With my first baby, I had severe postpartum depression. I got so sick I was sure if I told the doctor how I felt they would take my baby away. One day, when my baby was about 6 months old, I pinched her thigh. She was crying and I had reached a breaking point. I pinched her on purpose. I hurt her, on purpose.

I fell to the ground in sadness. I hurt my baby, and I meant to. I don't think I even left a bruise, but it shocked me to my core and I immediately made an appointment with my doctor. I decided she would be better off with a different family, since I was clearly unfit as a mother. I walked into that appointment fully thinking they were going to take my baby away.

She reacted with sympathy, and she treated my depression, and pulled me out of one of the darkest times of my life.

You can imagine my shock and relief when the doctor said, "Oh honey, you have a bad case of postpartum depression, probably nearing psychosis. We'll get you on some pills and have you fixed up in no time." I wanted to hug her. She didn't attack me or take my child. She reacted with sympathy, and she treated my depression, and pulled me out of one of the darkest times of my life.

With my second child, I was not going to risk such depression again, so about a month before my due date, I started taking Effexor, an anti-depressant. Without going into detail, let me just say that the side effects from those pills were horrendous, and getting off of them about a year later was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I have never been so sick. I couldn't walk for a week. Even though I "weaned" off, I was so dizzy I couldn't get out of bed. I didn't feel completely normal for about six weeks after I stopped taking those pills.

Needed a new solution

Five years later, when I was pregnant with my third, I started thinking about postpartum depression preparation. I refused to go back on those pills. I decided I would try more "natural" approaches and just watch myself carefully, making sure I didn't fall into a deep depression again.

So, when I heard about the potential benefits of consuming your placenta (and that you could do it in capsule form), I was interested. My midwife (I had my third baby at home) explained that some women experience a more emotionally smooth postpartum period because the placenta contains pregnancy hormones, so by consuming the placenta, you help level-out the hormonal drop after birth (which often causes depression or baby blues). She explained that there are numerous healing chemicals in the placenta.

Though I was a little put off by the idea, it sounded significantly less offensive than going back on those pills with their horrid side effects. Since my midwifery service also offers placental encapsulation for free, I agreed to give it a try, and I did.

Though I obviously can't prove its effects, I can tell you I had by far the smoothest postpartum period I've ever had.

Though I obviously can't prove its effects, I can tell you I had by far the smoothest postpartum period I've ever had. Maybe it's because I'm older and more relaxed as a mother. Maybe it's because she was a pretty laid-back baby. Maybe it was the placebo effect, or maybe the stars were just aligned perfectly, but I had virtually no depression at all, despite the fact that I spent three days in a hospital one week after she was born on account of a uterine infection.

I'm currently 15 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby, and I plan on trying placental encapsulation again. At the very least I know it's not harming me, and if it offers any benefit whatsoever, it's just a bonus.

The postpartum period is hard enough. I'll take any help I can get, no matter what form it arrives in, or how many people it disgusts.

More on postpartum depression

Anticipating postpartum depression
5 Signs of postpartum depression
When postpartum depression needs treatment

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