We’ve all heard of the many benefits placenta encapsulation can have for a birthing person’s postpartum. Your placenta contains an average of 234 calories, 4 g fat, 899 mg cholesterol, 48 g protein, 513 g of sodium, plus significant amounts of trace elements such as iron, selenium, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. In addition to this, the placenta also contains essential and non-essential amino acids, such as alanine, aspartic acid, arginine, histidine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, proline, tyrosine, tryptophan, and valine, in addition to vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. (Johnson, Pastuschek, Rödel, Markert & Groten, 2022)
However, this isn’t always an option for everyone. Sometimes the hospital won’t release the placenta or staff has accidentally discarded it. Luckily, there are other natural remedies that can give similar benefits. So, if you are unable to participate in placenta encapsulation, or you’d simply like to learn more about natural postpartum remedies, consult the list below!
Birthing people commonly consume fenugreek supplements to aid in breast milk production in the early stages of breastfeeding. The Egyptian Pediatric Association conducted a study testing its effectiveness in increasing breast milk production and concluded that,
“Fenugreek consumption affects the early stage of lactogenesis and prolactin level […] The results showed that the mean breastmilk volume increased earlier (at day 3) in the fenugreek group more than the control group” (Egyptian Pediatric Association).
A common reason people use placenta encapsulation postpartum is to improve mood swings and get rid of the “baby blues”. A great alternative is a Vitamin B complex. Vitamin B is known to increase energy levels and balance hormones, resulting in better temperament and less mood swings! You can find Vitamin B in most green vegetables, such as swiss chard, kale, watercress, seaweed, spirulina, collard greens, nettles, parsley and basil.
Nettle has many amazing health benefits for birthing people postpartum. It aids in reducing inflammation, improving constipation, supporting milk supply, reduces excessive postpartum bleeding, and cleansing the liver to help it process estrogen more efficiently. All of this has both physical and mental benefits. Nettle is also rich in iron which postpartum moms need due to the blood loss from birth! Taking nettle supplements or using nettle in tea often results in improved mood and energy levels!
Vitamin C is a wonderful tool for balancing hormone levels postpartum. It’s also essential for proper iron absorption, which is important since postpartum birthing people need more iron in their diet than usual. Vitamin C is very easy to get through a balanced diet by eating foods like red bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, and hibiscus flower tea.
Essential fatty acid (EFA)
EFAs are important for hormone production. Many people are low in EFAs, specifically omega 3. Some foods rich in EFAs are flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, halibut, shrimp, snapper, scallops, chia seeds and cod liver oil, evening primrose oil.
The placenta is a great source of cholesterol. So, if you aren’t using placenta encapsulation try incorporating whole fat animal products into your diet to supplement cholesterol. This includes grass-fed beef, raw milk from grass-fed cows or goats, whole milk yogurt and kefir, free-range/pastured eggs, butter from grass-fed milk (KerryGold is a common one) and coconut oil.
Herbal teas are a wonderful tool in alleviating postpartum symptoms that placenta encapsulation typically helps with. You can create tea blends of lavender and chamomile to promote good sleep. Ashwagandha can help your body adapt to change and regulate stress. Lemon balm can help improve mood postpartum and ease anxious thoughts.
It is always recommended to check with your healthcare provider first before adding any herbs or supplements into your daily routine.
Source: Johnson, S.K.; Pastuschek, J.; Rödel, J.; Markert, U.R.; Groten, T. Placenta—Worth trying? Human maternal placentophagy: Possible benefit and potential risks. Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2018, 78, 846–852. [CrossRef] [PubMed]