I recently had a virtual consult with a potential client, and it went so well! In attendance was the expectant Mom and her mother. They asked great questions, the energy was on point, and at the time it seemed as if our philosophies aligned. Dare I say she was my ideal client? Grandma was ready to hire me on the spot! If the matriarch cosigns it is usually a done deal, right? Well…. a few days later the expectant Mama sent an email informing me that she hired someone else. The deciding factor was that Doula offered placenta encapsulation. Insert big sigh! I am not going to front. I was a tad bit disappointed, and it is not because she chose another Doula. It was because this Sista fell into what I like to call the “birth trend trap.” Everyone is doing it, so it must be a good thing, right?
I passionately believe that we should not consume our placentas – period! Our placentas are sacred and should be handled with immense care. I am blessed to have access to women that pour ancestral wisdom into me. Elders like Mama Charlotte Goudeau, a traditional Midwife in Louisiana, proclaims that “everyone is not qualified to handle a placenta.” Let us break that down family. Placentas carry energy and can also absorb energy. If the wrong person handles this sacred organ malignant energies can transfer to it, or the handler can pick up energy from the placenta itself. Let us dive a little bit deeper into what a placenta is and its functions.
The placenta is an organ developed during pregnancy that attaches itself to the uterus. Its main functions are to provide oxygen and nourishment to a developing fetus as well as remove waste from the baby’s bloodstream. The placenta also serves as a protective barrier. During a class I was honored to attend Elder Mawusi Ashskair, another traditional midwife, says the placenta protects the baby from “the chemicals found in the artificial foods that we eat, anything that contains chemicals that we rub into our skin, perms, hair dyes, parabens, preservatives, perfumes, and makeup.” This phenomenal organ also detects, flags, and consumes abnormal / deformed cells. Ever heard of a pregnancy starting out with multiplies and then the number decreases? The placenta acts as a “dumping ground” for these deformities.
Now that we understand the job of the placenta, we can deduce that the placenta is a wise organ. It is your growing baby’s divine guardian angel. A gatekeeper. That is reason enough for me not to want to consume this scared organ but let us go back to the placenta being a protective barrier. If you ingest your placenta, you are reintroducing toxins and defects back into your body. If you are a breastfeeding Mama, this makes matters even worse. Do you see where I am going with this? Let us take it a step further!
During pregnancy, your placenta produces human placental lactogen which causes growth and proliferation of the mammary glands to ready the body to lactate. The placenta also produces estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone acts as bouncers keeping prolactin, the milk production hormone in check. Once your placenta is birthed, estrogen and progesterone levels drop allowing prolactin to rise and begin milk production. Prolactin sends signals to the glands in your breast to make more milk while oxytocin stimulates the milk ejection reflex. Are you still with me? So, if we ingest the placenta, you are reintroducing estrogen and progesterone into your body which could send your body into a state of confusion lowering prolactin rates thus affecting milk supply.
I urge my Mamas and fellow birth workers to reassess this trend of placenta consumption (especially if you are of African and/or Black Native origin). This practice is not of our culture. My Sisters, I urge you to reclaim your own cultural birth practices and exercise them. Let us not hop on to trends because they seem cool. Let us start to view pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period through an African/Native lens. Let us reclaim our placenta rituals. Traditional southern midwives had a practice of burying the placenta on the land in which the family planted their roots. This practice stems back to our native land, Africa. How beautiful would it be to bring your child to the spot on your land in which his/her placenta is buried? I imagine it would ground them and serve as an offering to Mama Earth. Let us reclaim our cultural traditions!
Thanks for reading this. As always, peace, love, & light.
P.S. If you would like more information on placenta burial drop a line in the comments and I will publish a follow-up to this post.