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I Ate My Placenta and So Should You

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Photograph by Twenty20

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In college, I distinctly remember my friends and I discussing how disgusting it was that hippies ate their placentas. One of my roommates' boyfriend spoke up, saying that he thought it was a good idea. My then boyfriend, now husband, offered to be a vigilante placenta stealer, swooping into the delivery room and whisking away my dear friend's placenta before anyone could consume it! Little did we know that one day, many years later, that noble man would be reminding a labor and delivery nurse that we needed to take my placenta home. Yes, that's right, I am now one of those weird hippies. Although, before you get too grossed out, I didn't fry it up and serve it with a side of potatoes. I had my placenta encapsulated, and I highly recommend it!

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Placenta encapsulation is a process in which your placenta is steamed, dehydrated, ground and placed into capsules for you to swallow like pills; no chewing required. So what led me from judgmental coed to placenta pill popper? The quest for a better postpartum experience. With my first son, I suffered from postpartum anxiety and struggled to fully enjoy my tiny bundle of joy. My physical recovery was slow, and mentally it took a whole year to feel like myself again.

The promise of more energy and less crazy was enough for me. I shelved my previous convictions, ponied up the cash and hired a placenta encapsulation expert.

When I was pregnant the second time, I decided I would do everything I could to avoid repeating history. I learned that eating one's placenta is thought to aid in the postpartum recovery process. Being high in vitamins and minerals, including iron and zinc, it helps replenish vital nutrients. Many believe it also helps regulate your hormones; the mood boosting hormone oxytocin is present in the placenta, so ingesting it is supposed to help you feel happier, less anxious and more energetic. The promise of more energy and less crazy was enough for me. I shelved my previous convictions, ponied up the cash and hired a placenta encapsulation expert.

Next, I worked up the nerve to tell my ob-gyn that I'd be needing my placenta—not to plant in the ground, but to return it to the system from whence it came. She thought it was strange, but less so than burying it in the backyard, and she said that if nothing else, the extra iron couldn't hurt. Then there was the awkward request to borrow my dad's ice chest. And last but not least, my husband had to make sure the nurse bagged and chilled my placenta and then call the placenta gal to come retrieve it.

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A few days later, I received my magic pills, and while it could totally be the placebo effect, they really did work! When I first unscrewed the cap on the jar, all I could think was that they smelled weird. But I sent two down the hatch, and about fifteen minutes later, I had an incredible rush of energy. I took two pills, three times a day until I ran out. I felt so much less manic. My hormones were much more even, and I had none of the anxiety I experienced the first time around. I was sleeping less and was far busier with two children, yet I had more energy. And best of all, I felt like myself after just two months instead of twelve. There could have been many factors that led to this much happier outcome, but I know this for sure, those pills didn't hurt; and if I ever have another baby, I'll have my placenta gal on speed dial.

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