Placenta encapsulation and Postpartum Depression
One of the common reasons women choose to encapsulate their placenta is to help prevent postpartum (postnatal) depression, baby blues or other postpartum mental health concerns. Many of my enquiries state this as a reason they’re considering it, my reply is often lengthy and considered. So I decided to put my thoughts into a post so I can share it with everyone. My answer is always, yes it can BUT……. there’s more layers of thought needed…
Postnatal depression is the name given to depression that develops between one month and up to one year after the birth of a baby. It affects about 1 in every 7 women who give birth in Australia each year. (source)
Yes, many women have found using placenta ‘remedies’ have eased their transition into life with a newborn, many saying they didn’t feel the crazy roller coaster of emotions, they didn’t feel the typical ‘baby blues’, they felt like they had lots of energy and could deal with life a lot better. Placenta remedies include placenta capsules and tinctures, capsules can be utilized in the immediate postpartum recovery period (though can be stored for longer term use*) while a placenta tincture can be used for a much longer term - years in fact.
So what is placenta made up of?
Gonadotrophin: the procurer to oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone
Prolactin: promotes lactation
Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events
Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores
Oxytocin: for pain and bonding
Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections
Haemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia
Urokinase Inhibiting Factor and factor XII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing
Gammaglobin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections
But let’s be really clear - placenta encapsulation is not the one magic fix for PND and postnatal mood disorders, it is just one piece of the pie. Some women, more than others, seem to be affected by mood swings/disorders/anxiety or depression. If you’re one of those women, being proactive DURING PREGNANCY is going to be the best approach.
Let’s look at ways you can support your transition into motherhood (or newborn motherhood if you already have children)
~ Talk to your GP, midwife, OB or other healthcare provider
~ Seek perinatal mental health support
~ Identify your triggers - ie: what brings on feelings of anxiety/depression - examples include (but not limited to) lack of sleep/broken sleep, hunger, boredom, noise, poor diet, lack of general exercise, tension in relationships….
~ Prepare for a positive birth - how you feel about your birth will stay with you forever and be the kick start for your transition into motherhood. Birth can be such an empowering and transformative time, an opportunity to find your voice, strength and determination you didn’t realize you had. It’s also an opportunity to hear your inner voice - unlock your intuition, one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself as you journey into new motherhood.
Address any fears surrounding this transition - labour, the birth, becoming a mum, partners becoming parents, adding another baby to your family etc
Learn as much as you can about the birth you want, many women don’t really know how their body works to have a baby and how they can help themselves!
Find a care provider who wants to help you achieve this birth - does their belief around birth align with yours? Maybe you need need to find one that will….
Seek additional support for birth and postpartum: doulas (birth & postpartum), independent midwives etc
Prepare your mind for birth, independent birth education classes are so important
Prepare your body for birth - yoga, yoga, yoga - I cant’ say it enough! Birth is a physical event, you need strength, stamina, flexibility - when you are confident in your body your mind will be at ease. Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Acupuncturists, Kinesiologists are all amazing practitioners to help your mind and body prepare for birth.
~ Prepare for postpartum and create a Plan (some strategies for support)
If this is your first baby, learn about newborn behaviour and their needs, find other mums with newborns and hang out with them
If you plan to breastfeed, learn everything you can before the baby comes, take a breastfeeding class, find some breastfeeding councillors and Lactation consultants and keep their contact details handy. Join the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
Talk to your partner about how your relationship might change after a baby joins you, this can be one of the bigger stress triggers. Partners feel a little neglected, sometimes they want to help but don’t know how, miscommunication leads to arguments so try to practice good communication during pregnancy so you can confidently express your needs after baby comes.
Discuss with your partner about visitors and boundaries around visitors - this can be easily overlooked in the excitement of having a new baby but a constant stream of visitors can be really stressful, esp if you are ‘entertaining’ them.
Feeding yourselves - Set up a ‘meal train’ for friends and family to drop off precooked food every few days. Or start getting familiar with online grocery shopping so you don’t need to leave the house. Stock up the freezer with frozen meals during pregnancy.
Learn about the Fourth Trimester - womens bodies don’t just spring back to pre-pregnant state overnight (or even within 6 weeks) it takes a full 12 months for your body to heal, strengthen and recover.
Find your Tribe! Find the people that are on your wave length, that might be kind of parents you want to be, filter out the people in your life that aren’t going to support your choices or are judgemental and negative - Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Find some natural health support, placenta encapsulation would definitely fit in here, essential oils, massage, chiro, yoga, nutrition....
Identify where professional help is if you need it. Councillors and Psychologists who specialise in Women’s mental health, prenatal and postnatal mental health - know what to look for and when you might need to call in some professional help. This is definitely a conversation for you, your partner and immediate family or close circle of friends. The Government offers free Mental Health Plans to those that qualify (see your GP for information) so you could have access to free metal health support.
So as you can see, placenta encapsulation is definitely one aspect of preventing/reducing the effects of postnatal depression but there is so much more you can do to support yourself during the shift into new motherhood. It might take some soul searching, facing some stuff that’s difficult, asking for help, but hey, you’re totally worth it! The newborn period goes so quickly and life with a new baby can be so beautiful and rewarding, lets not let depression and anxiety tarnish this experience for you!
For Sunshine Coast Families - http://sunshinecoastpnd.com.au/