I’ll have my baby with a side of placenta

| April 16, 2009 | 10 Comments
  • 10 Comments

Note: Don’t read this if you find my other posts disgusting or offensive. Move along now. I mean it.

I suspect that our doula saw my stash of pop tarts on top of the refrigerator. That would explain her hesitant tone when she called me after I had called her, hysterical, three weeks before my baby was due. Some women get post-partum depression; in my case, I had a whopper case of pre-partum depression, which, needless to say, did not bode well the post part of the partum.

“Um, Meghan, I know this might really not be your style, but maybe you’d like to think about something that I’ve read can help fend off post-partum,” she said.

“Anything, anything!” I would have freebased free range koala turds at that point if it meant I would okay after the birth.

“You could have your placenta, uh, processed,” she said.

“Processed?”

“Some studies have shown that consuming your placenta after the birth can prevent post-partum depression. And I know someone who can process it for you. Into pills.”

Pills, eh? Well now, I’m a fan of pills! And it’s not like I was a complete stranger to the notion of consuming placenta. In Thailand, one of my Thai friend’s favorite soups was made with buffalo placenta, and I’d certainly heard about women consuming their placentas in smoothies, omelets, etc. I did take birth classes in Berkeley, after all. (If you don’t believe me, there’s this thing called Google…)

Fast forward a couple of weeks…

I’ve just pushed out my kid. He’s across the room, getting meconium vacuumed off his schnozz, and the placenta (His? Mine? Ours?) is on its way.

“It’s in our birth plan to save the placenta, right? Save the placenta?” I called to the intern, who was busy between my legs. (A situation which can’t help but call to mind the classic Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Ackroyd playing Julia Child saving the chicken livers.

“Yep, we’ll save it, don’t worry. It will be in the fridge down the hall.”

Ah, really! In the fridge down the hall along with the Odwalla smoothies we have stocked there…and every other maternity ward mother’s snacks, too. Nice…

Fast forward two days…

Our newborn son is strapped into his car seat, and we’re headed home at three miles an hour.

“Shit, we forgot the placenta.”

Well, suffice it to say that much as we wanted our placenta, we weren’t really in the mood to turn back at three miles an hour. So, we called the hospital.

“Save our placenta! Please! Don’t throw it out! It’s in a Tupperware container in the fridge! Put a post-it on it that says, ‘Urgently needed placenta! DO NOT THROW AWAY!’”

Next phone call: the doula (not ours) whom we’d hired, for $250, to prepare our placenta. Bless her little organic soul, she agreed to go pick it up herself. (I had visions of our placenta, aging in its Tupperware, ready for a Manager’s Special markdown.)

Next phone call: back to the hospital. “Can you release our placenta to someone who isn’t us? Yes? GREAT!”

Fast forward another two days…

Post-partum depression has not, as of yet, struck. But I’m jonesing for my placenta pills, man. Big time. Because surely if I don’t get them THIS INSTANT my son will wind up in juvi hall in 15 years.

Panicked phone call to the placenta preparer: “Don’t worry,” she told me. “It’s all done. I’ll bring it over this afternoon.”

And voila:

placenta pills

129 pills of pure Laslocky placenta, steamed lightly with ginger, jalepeno and lemon, sliced thinly and dried in a dehydrator, then ground into a powder and put into capsules.

The label reads: “Placenta medicine. Dosage: Up to 2 caps 3x a day for 2 weeks postpartum. Take for immunity, menopause, and to augment the Chi and nourish the blood. Also for rites of passage: teething, walking, school, times of growth and separation.”

I could rub some powdered placenta on my boy’s gums, the preparer said, if I thought he’d ever lost his way.

Our placenta, she added, was a particularly beautiful one — so beautiful she dried some of the amniotic sack that was attached to it. Here it is:

whole placenta

Oh, and this?

umbilical cord
This is a bit of the membrane and the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord, some say, makes a great teething ring.

Fast forward another two days…

You know how fish oil pills make you burp? There I was, dutifully downing two capsules three times a day, burping up placenta like there’s no tomorrow. And it was NOT pleasant. Gag-inducing belches, and no matter how I consumed them — with milk, with a sandwich, with an entire loaf of bread — there it was: the unmistakable piquant flavor of placenta.

My neighbor sniffed the jar. “Hmm. Smells like mushrooms,” she said, oh so helpfully.

Mushrooms STUFFED WITH PLACENTA, that is.

Fast forward four months…

Okay, so I cut back and took just one pill a day for…a day. The jar of pills sits in my cupboard, nestled with the honey and my great-grandmother’s circa 1915 Noritake soup bowls.

I’m not inclined to take it — fortunately I did not get post-partum depression — but I’m glad it’s there, and the truth is that when I give the open jar a good whiff now, it doesn’t smell nearly as horrible. It smells more of ginger now than it does of placenta. There’s something really sweet about having it, and I’m not saying that with snark. Plus it’s always good to have options: Early onset of menopause could be right around the corner, and my boy will be teething any day now.

And I do have delightful visions of sending him off to college, rubbing the contents of the 129th pill into his gums. “Don’t forget who’s your mommy, baby.”

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Category: health and nutrition, kids and family

About the Author ()

Meghan Laslocky is a writer, editor, and producer who lives in San Francisco. She aspires to one day be a person who: Shops every week at the farmers' market and always has fresh romanescu on hand; eats only politically correct meat from cows that voted for Obama; never ever has to buy canned chicken stock because she always has oodles of it in a fabulously well-organized freezer. In the meantime, she shops at Trader Joe's in the off hours, heartily enjoys corn-fed beef that is likely campaigning for McCain, tries to feel better about herself by buying canned chicken stock that is labeled as organic or free range, and produces web sites for KQED, including videos like this about the hot 'n' heavy last dark hours of the kind of squid that become fried calamari. As she writes this bio, she is eating Dilettante chocolate covered bing cherries and drinking Cline Pinot Gris. Be advised: they do not "go." Her work has been published by Salon.com and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where she did not study with Michael Pollan, much as she likes him.
  • Caroline

    Hilarious! Hmmm…I had a mild case of the “baby blues” for a few weeks after giving birth…I still don’t know that I would have consumed the placenta…

  • Sally

    Ok that was a weird article, but VERY interesting. Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

  • Josh

    Can you please link to any available information supporting the efficacy of preventing and/or treating post-partum depression with placenta? It sounds like such a dubious claim, I’m curious what sort of research there is to support it. The diet and health industry is full of products making unsupported health claims to sell products (e.g., airborne http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/makers-of-airborne-settle-false-ad-suit-with-refunds/?scp=1&sq=airborne%20litigation&st=cse) (in this case I guess it’s a service, since the mother and baby are manufacturing the main ingredient).

  • http://getsmartradio.net Deborah Pardes

    this made me laugh and do kegels…

  • http://nourishedkitchen.com Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen

    My acupuncturist suggested eating the placenta after my son’s birth. I just didn’t have it in me. I think the capsule form has got to be a lot easier to ingest with a lot less “eeew” factor.

  • http://bluepositive.blogspot,com Martha Silano

    Oh’m'gosh, this is great! I loved the pics of the shriveled p and the suggestion that the cord be used for teething. YUM! Seriously, I wanted to keep my placenta but the docs told me that because 75% of it hard torn away during my first trimester, they wanted it for SCIENCE. Not to be someone on whom anything is lost, I wrote a poem all about this practice and my regret for missing out. . all about the mamas who eat their placentas . . .with onions, peppers, a little hot sauce. But no one mentioned BURPING. Ugh! I am just so glad you didn’t have a bad post partum period, Meghan. Thank the lord you didn’t have to choke down more of those pills!!

  • Kristen Lindquist

    Wow, that’s an amazing, amusing, and very interesting story! Just when I thought I’d heard the weirdest pregnancy story yet. Well, okay, Octo Mom still has you beat, but I can read your story and not worry about your ability to mother your child. (Because you’ve got those tablets waiting just in case…) Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.ambrosiaquest.com Paula Maack

    HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!! That last line was RICH!!! Thank you for that!

    How cool that you did this. I wish I knew about this option 19 years ago, when I needed it. I hope it is less repulsive to consume with time.

    Congratulations, by the way. I am glad baby and mama are well.

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula

  • B

    in response to “Josh” Placenta Encapsulation is actually a traditional Chinese Medicine and has been in practice for a really long time. TCM use’s placenta to treat lactation and fatigue, which we know to be a pre cursor to postpartum depression. There are some minimal studies done on the effects of breastfeeding and lactation, there are studies done on the contents of iron and hormones in placentas and related studies done on how iron and hormones can be used to prevent the baby blues leading to postpartum depression. There are more studies, specific to placenta encapsulation underway.

    Here’s some links: http://placentabenefits.info/research.asp

  • http://graciousrain.com Launi

    Thanks so much for this article. We’ve been researching this placenta therapy information and your experience has been really fun and informative to read. You are a crack up but still able to deliver–haha–valuable insight.