Tag Archives: research

Hearts and Charts….

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In the last two posts, I’ve discussed what the process of encapsulation is, and what some of the reported benefits are. As a doula, I always encourage my clients to research the many choices they have as they move through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. So, why does placenta encapsulation put me with one foot in the world of research (that of charts), and one foot in the intuition of generations of mothers (that of the heart)?

As a placenta specialist, I am convinced that my service is completed in a safe and sanitary way, and I can in good conscience offer it to interested women. I advise them to be aware the of the risks and benefits, and that I can’t guarantee either. However, the moms who have chosen this route have responded positively, by and large, and that is something that, while the evidence cannot yet prove, it cannot yet disprove! Their intuition, and the tradition of perhaps centuries of women, led them not to discard their placenta as medical waste, but rather as a postpartum benefit to them, and through them, to their newborn child. (Did you know that all mammals regularly consume their placentas, except humans and camels?)

Opinion is a bit divided on exactly when placenta remedies began to be used, but it appears the earliest *written* record is in the 16th century (Young and Benyshek, 49). Medieval German texts call the placenta “mother’s bread” and various recipes relate on how to prepare it (Enning, 2).

Though called for by mothers, researchers, and birth professionals, current research in Western medicine on placentophagy is just not sizable – at all. There have been anecdotal studies (which I will link to below), there have been non-human mammalian studies, but no controlled studies until recently, the results of which are soon to be published (keep on eye on the University of Nevada – Las Vegas website, where results of the first controlled study are currently in the peer review process, as I understand.)

Where does that leave you in the choices you are free to make? Relating to me personally: I did not consume my placenta after my first four children were born. I had an abundant milk supply, and was blessed not to struggle with postpartum depression. After my fifth was born, I prepared my placenta in capsule form, and noted a marked difference. Less bleeding, more stable mood, and milk supply remained abundant (in fact, so abundant that, at three weeks, I achieved the benefit I thought the pills could give me, and I discontinued their use). That is just one anecdotal account — the one that drove me to offer this service.

I have worked with clients who struggled with both of these issues, among others, and were relieved, either in part, or entirely, from them. Some clients, while experiencing a benefit, still needed the support of additional medications, either for mood, or milk production.

Until more research is done and concluded, you may feel like me — we take what we can from the research, and the other part comes from intuition and tradition, and trust that the process is safe and sanitary and performed with due care.  Heart and Chart — they play a dual role in our decision making process.

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Research links:

From above: *In the journal Ecology of Food and Medicine, researchers from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, surveyed close to 200 women who had chosen to consume their own placentas, in various forms. The response from the women’s self-reporting was overwhelmingly positive, with 76 % saying they experienced benefits, and few, if any side effects. The study’s authors summarized,

“Our survey participants generally reported some type of perceived benefit from the practice, felt that their postpartum experience with placentophagy was a positive one, and overwhelmingly indicated that they would engage in placentophagy again after subsequent pregnancies (UNLV research by Selander and Young).”

Enning, Cornelia (2007) Placenta: Gift of Life, MotherBaby Press, Eugene Oregon. 2007.

Young, Sharon; Benyshek, Daniel (2010). “In Search of Human Placentophagy: A Cross-Cultural Survey of Human Placenta Consumption, Disposal Practices, and Cultural Beliefs”. Ecology of Food and Nutrition (Taylor & Francis Online) 49

“Steamed, Dehydrated, or Raw”, article summarizing UNLV study, accessed at the following address: https://news.unlv.edu/article/steamed-dehydrated-or-raw-placentas-may-help-moms%E2%80%99-post-partum-health, June 23, 2015

Café Stir, http://thestir.cafemom.com/celebrity_moms/181421/celebrity_moms_ate_placenta, accessed June 16, 2015

Would you Eat Your Placenta? These Four women did. Originally appeared in http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/4828468/Would-you-eat-your-placenta-All-of-these-women-did.html; accessed on July 23, 2015, via PlacentaWise.com

Placenta Pills Gain Fans, Tara Haelle, June 4, 2015. Accessed at: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/04/411990944/placenta-pills-gain-fans-among-new-moms-but-benefits-are-elusive, on June 23rd, 2015

 

The Process of Encapsulation

Encapsulation

If you have read the previous post about reported benefits of my past encapsulation clients, you might be wondering about what the actual process is, and if you might complete it yourself. What are the benefits to having a placenta specialist, like me, prepare your placenta so you might experience the wonderful benefits postpartum?

Encapsulation on your own definitely can be done – I have done it! However, it does take time away from a postpartum mama’s most IMPORTANT work: resting and relaxing with her child and letting others care for her! (Not to mention getting breastfeeding well established, if that is the feeding method of choice).

However, as a placenta specialist now, I really recommend moms to check out area encapsulators. Ask questions about their practice, including knowing what their process is from start to finish.  Hiring a reputable and experience specialist takes the work off your hands.

Placentophogy, that is, consuming ones placenta, has been practiced in various cultures throughout child-bearing history. We in the US are starting to hear more about it (thanks Kim Kardashian! ;-)) and are curious.

Is this safe? Has it been studied? What are the risks and benefits? I will be addressing these question in my next placenta post.

But, back to process itself.  What are your first considerations with the option to encapsulate?

Well, the process begins during pregnancy. The service I provide to my encapsulation clients begins within filling out an initial form, which covers a few health related questions to ensure encapsulation is a reasonable and safe choice. It also covers basic contact information, as well as due date information. I am on-call for my clients from the time of signing of our agreement, and this includes payment and logistical arrangements. This includes providing a set of clear written instructions for keeping your placenta cool and safe until I arrive to pick it up from you. I also offer a cooler for this purpose, which my clients may opt to use (and I include my instructions and contact information within the cooler, so you don’t have to worry about printing an extra copy, when you already have other things to remember and focus on in this exciting time!). I also can provide guidance about talking with your care provider about your choice to encapsulate, if you have any questions.

When Baby arrives, my clients call or text me within the first 6 hours after birth, preferrably. I will make arrangements to pick up your placenta. If you’re in the hopsital, you will be asked to sign a release form before your placenta leaves. I generally ask Dad or another friend/family member to meet me in the lobby of the hospital. This leaves you free to rest and relax, which is so important!

My process of encapsulation begins with cleaning and sanitizing all my equipment. I have taken an OSHA-approved Blood Born Pathogen training, which includes the proper method to keep all my equipment, which is specific to my encapsulation service and is not used in any other way or for any other purpose, clean and safe for my clients. Even if I am processing multiple placentas within a short time frame, each client is assured that there is no cross-contamination as I only process one at a time, and my safety measures ensure sanitation is well-attended to.

Then, a gentle rinse of the placenta (and, if a tincture is desired, a small piece is removed and placed in the tincture bottle with quality grain alcohol). followed by steaming over a bed of sliced jalapeno, ginger, and lemon. The size of the placenta decreases by about half or more during this time. The placenta is removed, and the liquid can be strained and retained as ‘Mother’s Broth’, which has uses of its own. (See my ‘A La Carte Encapsulation options’ for options on small pieces for smoothies, tinctures, mothers broth, and more!)

After allowing time for cooling, I thinly slice the placenta, and it goes into the dehydrator. I periodically check for doneness until the placenta is fully dehydrated.

Again, allowing time for cooling first, then the placenta is ground into a fine powder. I hand-fill each capsule with care, and place them in a clean jar. Your jar is labeled with name and date, and a dosage pamphlet is provided for your guidance.

Though your capsules are now complete, my work is not done yet! I take care to thoroughly clean and sanitize my equipment before re-packing it for storage until my next client welcomes her Baby.

Finally, I deliver the capsules, and explain the general dosage guidelines. I am available for questions anytime via phone, text, or email.

I invite my clients to complete a short survey with their experience at some point, a number of weeks after their capsules are delivered. This information helps me learn and grow as a specialist! I remind my clients that I am not a medical professional, but that I am a reliable, clean, and safe specialist performing a wonderful postpartum service for mothers, the benefits of which can truly radiate to the whole family.

When Mama is happy, everyone is happy!

To see if I am available for your due date range, please contact me today!
Sincerely,

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Placenta Power

Placenta Power (1)

 

What is Placenta Encapsulation all about? Isn’t the placenta just a piece of medical waste, a bi-product of birth?

Traditional wisdom would inform us otherwise.

Though it remains a personal decision whether or not to ingest one’s placenta, there is a body of anecdotal and some research evidence that suggests great benefits to this long-standing practice or using the placenta in postpartum remedies.

Here are 5 reasons you might want to consider putting your placenta into capsules after your birth:

1. Increased energy/improved mood

Moms who ingest their placentas commonly report feeling happier, less apt to have wildly fluctuating moods, and better able to deal with the demands of motherhood+.

2. Less postpartum bleeding, aiding a faster recovery

Postpartum bleeding is reported to decrease+. That means more blood (and the nutrients, especially iron) staying in your body. That, in turn, aligns with number 1 – you feel more energized and happier.

3. Helpful to milk production/increase milk production

After your milk comes in, you can begin taking your capsules. They are believed to contain hormones that are beneficial to milk production. Mothers who have their placentas encapsulated typically report increased milk production+.

4. Improved iron levels

Iron is one nutrient we know is retained in the encapsulation process (among others). If your blood loss was slight or significant at the time of birth, the capsules can help. Mothers whose iron has decreased during pregnancy, which is not uncommon, have reported that their iron levels have increased steadily (again, see #1 – iron is very important!)

5. Good stewardship

The placenta is an amazing organ, a hand-crafted life support system for your baby, that can continue to nourish YOU, mama, after your little one arrives. Rather than discard it as waste, you can choose to encapsulate it, or there are other options to honor what your body created, such as planting the placenta under a tree or bush to commemorate you and your baby’s efforts and new life!

 

Is encapsulation right for you? Are you interested in the benefits above? I’d be happy to talk with you about the range of options available to you, all of which I can assist you with as your doula or placenta specialist.

Sincerely,

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+reported benefits of my past clients, and anecdotal reports from a survey of postpartum mothers. The research into encapsulation is ongoing, please talk with me about papers and studies you may be interested in reading as you make your informed decision. This post, and my services, are not intended to diagnose or treat any illness and condition. The benefits experienced are individual, and not guaranteed.

Save the Cheerleader…..Save birth?

cheer-poms-hi

Those familiar with the sci-fi series “Heroes” will likely be the first ones to click through and read this post! But, jokes and cki-fi pop culture references aside, a doula is many things to a birthing mom and her support people: Cheerleader is just one. A doula believes in you, and your thoughtful wishes for the birth of your baby. In our prenatal meetings, we will talk about how I can best support you. As I visited with a mom prior to the birth of her third baby (and I was blessed to be at each birth as her doula!), I asked her, “Is there anything that really stands out to you, from your past experiences with me as part of the team, that you wouldn’t want me to forget to do?” Right away, she said, “If we did nothing else, I would want your verbal encouragement.” Having someone that at her core, believes in you, and your SuperAbility to birth your baby, is amazing.

On that note, I found two very encouraging blog posts that crossed my path this week, and I wanted to share them with you!

The first is an intriguing post, written by a registered nurse (RN) who works on the Labor and Delivery floor. She expressed the desire to help the patients she worked with through learning more about positioning and comfort measures — skills and information that were lacking in her training! She discovered that there was already a professional offering these services: a doula! Advantage #428 to having a doula at your birth: A doula is trained in comfort measures to help you through the birthing of your baby, and never leaves your side. The nurse in the blog post (listed below) lamented the fact that, due to shift changes, high patient volume, and (unfortunately) lack of training in comfort measures, she couldn’t support the birthing women in the same way as a doula. Some wonder (nurses and doctors included) if a doula takes the PLACE of the Labor/Delivery nurse, or MD. Not a chance. We have specific and DIFFERENT roles at your birth. Read here: http://taprootdoula.com/2014/11/12/how-doulas-could-save-birth-an-ld-nurses-manifesto/

The next post that caught my eye is one written by a new Dad. http://pregnancy.about.com/od/doula1/a/dads-and-doulas.htm

While originally thinking that a doula would be a ‘third wheel’ during the birth of his first child, he ended up being so “ra-ra doula” that he not only encouraged all dads and other birth partners to DEMAND a doula, but noted that for future births he absolutely didn’t want them to occur without a doula. He highlighted an aspect of doula support that other dads I’ve worked with note as well: Doulas make dad look good.

Each dad is different in the amount of ‘hands-on’ they feel comfortable with providing to mom. I have seen a wide range. Some dads would rather be the ‘drink runner’ and ‘hand holder’. Some are very hesitant in the hospital atmosphere in general. Some would love to do the double-hip squeeze, help with breathing, and many different supportive positions, but, like the dad notes in his post, he inconveniently forgot every. single. thing. he “should” have remembered from childbirth education class. Don’t worry – the doula has your back, and she will help you to participate at your comfort level – while helping to deepen the bond between mom and dad, and the other birth partners present. When I leave the birthing, I usually am leaving lots of love: Mom gazing at baby, Dad gazing at Mom, baby having his first snuggle time and breastfeeding session. Those gazes of love stay with me and encourage me to continue in the important work of being a doula.

Happy Reading!

*Are you looking for a cheerleader for YOUR upcoming birth? I have end of May openings, as well as June and August openings, and into Fall. Let’s have coffee sometime and see if I’d be a good complement to your birth team! Contact me today!  *

 

World Doula Week: March 22 – 28th

 

World Doula Week - March 22-28  Get Involved! Learn More!

“If a doula was a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”

– John H. Kennell, doctor and author of several studies investigating the benefits of doulas

It is fitting that my first post is published during this, the week of worldwide celebration of doulas! This week is meant to raise  awareness not only on the subject of who a doula is, what they do (and what they don’t do), but also to empower doulas themselves to celebrate their profession, and ennumerate the benefits they provide to the mothers they work with – benefits which radiate to the other birth partners, and to the wider community!

As a mom, I have always appreciated having a doula present. If I were to list the number one benefit, it would be that of loving neutrality. Does that sound weird? Well, let me explain. Having both had a doula, and providing doula services, I have the unique vantage point of seeing both sides of the coin.

As a doula,  I want what YOU want. I will help you to become educated about your choices, but will never make the choices for you. I will support your choices so that your birth is a thoughtfully considered, empowering experience. When things go even better than you could have hoped, I’ll be there  to celebrate your success and process the experience with you. When things don’t go according to the ideal plan, I will reaffirm your good work, highlighting the positive,  and process the experience with you with open and respectful listening, and, in some cases, a shoulder to cry on.

The doula is guided by loving care, and desiring the best outcome for you. Yet, as in the paragraph above, I am also a neutral party. I am not employed by the hospital, but by you. I provide non-medical support, primarily to the mother, but also receive accolades from dads and other birth partners present, as they felt my support (which is an amazing compliment to me).  I employ my caring heart, but at the same time I can objectively see your progess, personal obstacles, and growth throughout the birth process, and I can respond with helpful suggestions, encouragement, information….whatever is needed that I can provide.

As a doula: this is an amazing gift to GIVE (I can say this with absolute certainty!) – and, having welcomed doulas at each of my births: this is a blessed gift to receive during your birth.

As you celebrate World Doula Week with me, consider visiting my Facebook page and telling me about your positive experience with me as your doula, or with another doula that you chose. You could even interact with the worldwide community in this by using the Twitter tag #WeHadADoula!

Consider using your facebook status once or twice this week to highlight the positive work doulas do. There are far too many women who haven’t heard about doulas!

Can you give birth without a doula? Sure. But, statistically speaking, women with doulas experience

* less pain

* less interventions, such as C-sections

* shorter labors

* greater satisfaction with their births!

 You will remember your birth of your baby for the rest of your life, so….

Check back later in the week for some more facts and inspiration about doulas during this World Doula Week 2015! 

Sincerely serving you in building the culture of life together,

Laura Devick