Before your imagination starts to run wild and you envision me tucking into my placenta on a dinner plate with a steak knife and glass of red while recovering in my birthing suite, think again.
What is the Placenta & What Does it Do?
The word placenta come from the Greek, meaning "plate" or "discoid." This is because the placenta resembles the shape of a dinner plate attached to the side of the uterus, with the umbilical cord connecting the baby's belly. Without a placenta, no fetus could ever survive.
The placenta has many unique and important roles. It can assist in the sharing of information from the mother to the baby and then back to the mother. Crazy, right?
1. Acts as a filter: with the help of the umbilical cord that is, allowing the goodness from mum to reach the fetus, all while keeping the toxins at bay.
2. Functions as a sensor: the placenta helps decipher what the fetus needs also helps to regulate the absorption of amino acids, fat, oxygen and vitamins.
3. Operates as a hormone factory: it produces high levels of oestrogen, progesterone and cortisol for mum and fetus.
The first time I’d ever heard of eating one’s placenta was many years ago when I was trying to fall pregnant myself. I stumbled across Jennifer Stano who had quite a social media following and was expecting her first child. From memory, I loved her pregnancy style, and followed her in the hopes of getting some helpful dress-the-bump tips.
A video popped up on my Instagram one morning, and the still was of Jennifer and her husband. She had delivered her baby, and she’d had a little boy. The video caught my attention because she was in a hospital but had a kitchen blender in front of her. Perplexed and curious, I proceeded to watch her make a placenta smoothie and with a chunk of her raw placenta, fresh berries and some other ingredients. The video was about the smoothie and getting her husband to drink it, which he did. When I saw this video I was absolutely appalled! Why on earth would you make your husband do that? Shock value? How ridiculous. And what was the point of a placenta smoothie in the first place? I couldn’t help but think it was a grab for attention at the time, and I shook my head, chalking it up to wanting likes and dropped jaws.
Fast forward a few years to when I finally had a bun in the oven and my world shifts. It’s funny how pregnancy makes you pull out all the stops and really look after yourself for the sake of your baby. I was at the end of my third trimester living in Melbourne and a girlfriend of mine had mentioned that she had her placenta encapsulated. I was thrilled to have someone close to me that I could actually talk to about the experience. After all, when it comes to matters such as these, we need to peel back all the layers of assumptions, fear, and disgust that stem from ignorance.
She told me about her great experience with Anna Papadakis from Opening To Life and I called her immediately. Anna is a birth attendant, birth educator, body centered therapist and trainer. She started placenta encapsulation in 2012, and now it's a core part of her practice.
I confessed to Anna that I didn’t know much about the process, how it worked, or anything for that matter. I hadn't even read the website yet, but I was close to giving birth and keen as mustard to learn more. I also alluded to the fact that I’d heard consuming the placenta was good for a mother’s recovery, and that was something I desperately wanted to know more about.
Anna and I spoke on the phone at length about the process, the placenta itself and how sacred it is. I don’t mean that in a spiritual way (although it is pretty magical), but I personally feel that it's such a misunderstood organ. So if you're at all like me, and curious about this process, I find it easiest to break it down into two categories, the WHY and the HOW of consuming your placenta.
"We need to peel back all the layers of assumptions, fear, and disgust that stem from ignorance."
- Erica Kickert
As a soon to be new mum, I was quite worried about postnatal depression, commonly referred to as PND. The idea of PND being a dark horse that doesn't discriminate really spooked me. I'd spoken to a midwife who mentioned that I might be at risk for a few reasons, in particular due to our lack of support and absence of family from either side due to our move up to Queensland when our baby would be a mere 7 weeks old. My husband's family live in Melbourne and my family live in California, and I knew I'd particularly struggle when my parents had to say goodbye to their only child and their first grandchild.
In the same way that you commit to eating well and getting rest for the sake of your unborn baby, I committed to making my recovery the smoothest it could be, and that started by working from the inside out.
Anna went over a few key benefits, which were:
- Increasing our iron levels, which will help to combat fatigue, give you more energy, and therefore less depression. It's often difficult to absorb iron from supplements. You ingest crazy high does and the excess is expelled via black poop (if you've ever been on these supplements, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about)! However, when it's your own iron, it's much easier to absorb.
- Some research shows that increasing Vitamin B6 combats post natal depression and helps to regulate mental process and mood.
- The placenta contains high levels of Oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the "love drug." Increasing the levels of this hormone increases your sense of wellbeing and happiness.
- The placenta also contains Lactogen which has been shown to help increase breast milk supply.
Click here to read about more benefits and how/why they work.
In Anna’s case, she only handles one placenta at a time in her work space. I really loved that she had this policy, for obvious reasons! Once the baby and the placenta have been born, it's set aside in a plastic tub by the hospital staff and awaits pick up. I didn't even know Anna had been to collect the placenta, and then I received a sweet text message that she would be dropping by with my capsules all ready to go and was excited to meet me.
It's your decision how you would like it to be prepared.
Anna offers two methods:
I wanted the placenta to retain as much goodness as possible, and opted not to cook it. This form of encapsulation involves less processing and will yield more capsules for you too. Once the placenta is cleaned, accessed, measured and cooked/dehydrated, it's then ground up and placed into clear organic capsules. Anna then bottles it up and it's delivered to you within 48-72 hours with specific instructions about how many to take a day.
My experience was outstanding. I ask most pregnant women if they are going to eat their placenta, and I get a lot of sideways glances, but I also meet a few women who say "YES" or who ask me for more information. My milk came in on day 2/3, I bounced back so quickly, got my period a few weeks later and didn't have any baby blues. I genuinely believe the encapsulation was responsible for my speedy recovery.
One of my favourite yoga students from Melbourne, Anna D, had asked me about the process and decided to have her placenta encapsulated after her second birth. This is what she had to say:
"I thought about having my placenta encapsulated during my first pregnancy but I let myself be talked out of it. After the birth of my first daughter the baby blues hit me hard. I was so scared that I was developing postnatal depression. (I was lucky that my baby blues only lasted a couple of weeks).
Second pregnancy I went with my gut and organised to have my placenta encapsulated, and I’m so glad that I did! No baby blues at all after the birth of my second daughter, plus my recovery was so much faster which was great as I had an active toddler to keep up with this time. I also found I had a lot more energy in the morning despite having to wake several times for night feeds.
My husband was also really sick at the time and I don’t know if they helped, but I didn’t catch whatever bug he had. I’d happily encouraged placenta encapsulation to any Mumma’s to be."
- Anna D, Melbourne
I highly recommend that you read some testimonials to get a feel for what people are saying about the process.
It's a great place to begin if this is something you're weighting up.
Have you ever had your placenta encapsulated?
Would you consider having it done? Tell me in the comments below.
What's in my bathroom cabinet while I'm growing a tiny human?
- Have a read below -
1. Biologi Bf Hydraton body serum: for my face and body. It's so versatile and nourishing.
2. Cedar and Stone's oil cleanser: for evening face wash, and I steam off the impurities with a bamboo or muslin face cloth.
3. Simple as That Sunscreen: it's 30 SPF and I use this daily. Most days I only wear this and mascara.
4. La Mav Organics BB Cream: in the medium shade.
1. Biologi Bf Hydraton body serum: for my face and body
2. Black Chicken's Axilla Barrier Booster natural deodorant: which is for sensitive skin. I can shave my armpits and use this right after, it's amazing!
3. Dr Bronner's bar soap: my favourite bars are the lavender, hemp rose and peppermint.
4. The Source Bulk Food's ylang ylang shampoo: I don't use conditioner because I don't have any need for it. If you would like to use an all natural, DIY conditioner that is free from nasties, try this.
5. Black Chicken Remedies dry shampoo: it's natural, organic, works well and smells amazing.
6. Dr Bronner's Organic Magic Balm as well as Black Chicken's Balm of Ages: for when I needed that little something extra on rough and very dry skin.
What I don't do:
What I do make an effort to do:
Well, that's it!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Congrats! You're preggers. You're growing another being, and all your energy is going towards harvesting another person's vital organs, eyelashes and fingernails. How bizzare, right?!
Pregnancy is not a one size fits all experience. Some women wear pregnancy like a glove, glow the whole 40 weeks and have a three hour labour. Others might have horrible morning sickness, suffer daily back pain and have a 20+ hour labour. We cannot pigeon hole what experiences may or may not come your way.
Having said that, there are some things I feel we can touch on because a fair few us have had to deal with pregnancy cravings.
My OB is renowned in Melbourne and an absolute legend. I can't recommend him highly enough, and just quietly, I'm totally devo that we don't live in Melbourne anymore because we always said we wanted him to deliver all of our kids! You can listen to this 2 minute snippet with Dr Jo and Rebecca Judd on the MamaMia Podcast where he shares one of his incredibly sweet birthing rituals. (It brought me to tears listening to it because we did it for my daughter's birth and I had a beautiful flashback).
Around my 33+ week I remember having a chat with Dr Jo and he explained that we only need about 200 extra calories a day toward the end of the pregnancy. 200! That's about 1/2 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, NOT a pint size container of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
But I get it. We're pregnant, uncomfortable and can have an insatiable appetite, especially if you are on steroids like I was (the worse side effect EVER)! We feel like it's our time to celebrate and indulge (it is), but we also want make educated decisions that will be good for us and for our bub.
Here are a few tips and tricks that I've implemented during my pregnancies:
1. Listen to your body
I've always been an intuitive eater, and I think it's good to be honest and forthcoming with what your body is trying to tell you. If you're pregnant and want to lick dirty potatoes, you're body is probably needing some essential vitamins and minerals! I'm not a huge red meat consumer, but I craved it fiercely with my first pregnancy. Turns out I was in the single digits for my iron levels = I was severely iron deficient (like really, really bad).
2. Make healthy swaps
Here are a few healthy swaps worth trying :: If you're craving this, try ________________ .
Snickers bar vs. RAW SNICKERS
Store bought, or boxed brownie mix vs. AVOCADO BROWNIES
Chocolate mouse vs. OVERNIGHT CHOCOLATE CHIA SEED PUDDING
Grab and go store bought granola bar vs. SWEET AND SALTY TRAIL MIX BARS
Greasy burger out vs. homemade SALMON BURGERS WITH SLAW
A mountain of cafe pancakes vs. HOMEMADE PANCAKES FOR 1
3. Be flexible
If you deny yourself time and time again without giving yourself a solid WHY.... you'll most likely binge and end up feeling really guilty. If I really want something, and can't stop thinking about it for a few days, I'll ask my husband to get it for me and throughly enjoy it. Leanne Ward, the Fitness Dietitian, shared a wonderful blog post about how to prevent binge eating and combat sugar cravings... have a read!
4. Make it from scratch
"Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you make it from scratch." This is Michale Pollan's #45th rule from his book, Food Rules. I love this rule so much! Eat whatever junk you want as long as you make it.... it's so completely and utterly brilliant. Why? Because if you have to make an apple pie from scratch, you'll either,
A. Rethink making it all together (most likely).
B. Spend an hour plus making and baking it and really appreciate it bite by bite.
C. You'll most likely have consumed a healthier version compared to a store bought apple pie.
HOT TIP: Speaking of sweets! If you're looking to really indulge, I highly recommend these two desserts. This vegan chocolate pie is healthy, and these peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake bars, not so much healthy- but bloody delish.
I eat five times a day without fail. This means I always have morning tea and afternoon snack, at least! I'm an intuitive eater and eat when my body us hungry- plain and simple.
Here are a few of my favourite snacks which have a nice blend of sweet and savory:
- Organic apple with crunchy peanut butter
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Shared mini cheese board (pregnancy safe), with dried fruit (ex: apricots, prunes, pineapple), fresh fruit (ex: apple, mandarin, crispy pear), walnuts, and pickles. This makes a great dessert or netflix platter in our house.
- Cookie Dough Energy Bites (family FAV)
- Lemon Coconut chia energy balls
- Pumpkin bread
- This healthy banana bread
Hope that helped guys.
Wishing you all the best on your pregnancy journey!
I decided to make a little list of things that I do, or have tried, (or think are worth trying), in the event that there are other Mamas out there feeling the same way.
Don't be too hard on yourself
Mum guilt is a thing. Don't berate yourself too much. Each pregnancy is unique in the same way that each and every child is unique. Whether this is your first pregnancy, or your fifth, we can't expect to feel the same way, have our bodies morph into the same shape, crave the same foods, etc. Sometimes these things take time, other times you might feel an inexplicable bond the moment you see the little blue lines on the pregnancy stick.
For me personally, getting pregnant with my daughter was a HUGE milestone; watching our 7 week video of our ultrasound and getting confirmation that the baby was alive makes me cry to this day. THIS pregnancy was less stressful in some ways and more stressful in others. I felt the same overwhelming excitement at the 7 and 12 week scans, but as I talked about in this post, I was in a rough headspace the first few months.
I was also relieved when I had my morphology scan and found out about about my very low placenta. Because my placenta was so low, the baby was punching and kicking my placenta instead of my belly wall. When the baby got bigger and stronger I'd be able to feel it move, and boy oh boy this kid is ACTIVE!
I used to teach meditation when I lived in Melbourne, and I found that I preferred to teach it rather than practice it! Meditation is something that I struggle with, and that's not easy to confess as a yoga instructor!
I think the best type of meditation practice is on your own, in silence. But if you need, or prefer, guidance I've tried Headspace and YogaGlo. According to Women's Health Magazine, these were the six best mediation apps of 2018.
Do prenatal yoga
This is a great way to slow down, connect to your breath and be present. Good prenatal teachers will not just take you through asanas, they will, (and should), bring it back to your pregnancy, your experience, your bub.
Talk to your baby
Might seem weird, but have you ever talked out-loud to yourself?
I do all the time because I've spent a lot of time on my own over the years! In the same way that we mumble and chat away to ourselves in our apartment or wandering through the grocery aisle, you can chat to your bub too. Maybe ask them how they are in the morning, what they feel like eating before lunch or say goodnight to them after your evening wind down.
Find out the Gender
If you're feeling a bit disconnected from the baby, consider finding out the gender with the Harmony test (week 10-12) or at the 20 week morphology scan. This might help you to visualise your life together after the birth, make picking a name more personal and could possibly expedite the bonding process.
Start Nesting Early
Start to prepare for bub's arrival by doing all the fun things:
Ask your friends for positive stories
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Listening to positive experiences and practicing visualisation is a great way to set yourself up for success. I've been asking my friends with two kids what I need to know and how I can prepare for success. We both laugh and they say the first three months are all about survival, which I get 100%. Everyone tells me it's the hardest thing ever, but that the time goes more quickly and the tender moments are even sweeter. I got a glimpse as to what this might be like when I watched my daughter hold a seven week old baby the other day. My daughter thought she was holding her new sibling, and was besotted. She demanded more cuddles and stroked the baby's face and didn't want to share the cuddle time. I had to explain that this wasn't our baby, but seeing her hold the wee one nearly brought me to joyful tears. I will no doubt reflect on that memory when I am in struggle-town during labour.
Wishing you all the best and a healthy, happy pregnancy.
If you (or someone you know) is struggling with anxiety and depression while pregnant, or after the birth, don't hesitate to reach out to people like PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and speak to a professional.
There is something about being pregnant that seems to lift a lot of people's proverbial filter, am I right?
The uninvited belly touching, the crazy personal questions, it's enough to make your head spin, exorcist style. I'm lucky mine have been quite tame this time around. Here are my top asked questions thus far, with my answers attached as well:
1. Are you going to find out the gender?
2. Would you prefer a boy or a girl?
I'd love to give my husband the boy he has always dreamed of.
I wanted my firstborn to be a boy, but I was so happy once I give birth to and met my baby girl!
3. How far along are you?
4. Are you going public or private for the birth?
5. Where are you having the baby?
Westmead Private, Westmead in their brand new maternity suite which opens in March 2019.
It's like a 5 star hotel, I'm so pumped!
6. Have you chosen a name?
We don't have a boy name yet, and we have nearly decided on a girl's first name.
7. Do you have any cravings?
Spicy food, asian food, fish tacos, Indian food and bao buns.
None of which I really eat funnily enough- except for the occasional homemade asian fusion dishes.
8. Are you going to get an epidural?
No thanks! I always aim for as natural a birth as possible.
9. How do you think your daughter will adjust to having a new sibling?
She is so excited to be a big sister! She kisses my tummy all the time and her fav book at the moment is "There's a House Inside My Mummy."
10. How do you feel about giving birth again?
I'm excited I guess. I know I'll hate the waiting game in the final few weeks, but I had a really good birth experience with my daughter.... even though it didn't remotely go to plan (read my birth story here) and we had some big hiccups.
I can't wait to grow our little family and introduce our little bubba to her sister, and the world.
11. What are your favourite green beauty brands to use during pregnancy?
Black Chicken Remedies: 1. All natural deodorant 2. The skin complexion polish and
3. The nocturnalist night serum
For an even complexion: La Mav Organic BB cream (medium shade)
For added face hydration: Biologi, Bf Hydration body serum
For sunscreen: Simple as That, SPF 30
For my belly and my daughter's skin too: Byron Baby macadamia oil
(I'll do another blog post about these and more later on)
Are you pregnant too? Tell me in the comments below the craziest thing you've been asked!
For some, pregnancy is a breeze. My first pregnancy was a cat walk (for the most part), in that I never got sick and felt really good 95% of the time. My biggest complaints were a strong intolerance for the smell of garbage and I didn't crave veggies during the first trimester. Oh, and how could I forget, I was 30+ weeks pregnant during Queensland summer, which was tough.
This time around has been a doozy, and I've had some really, really rough days (yup, not just morning sickness, all-hours-of-the-day-sickness).
Here are a few things that have helped:
1. Ginger tea
I'm not a fan of ginger, but when I found out that it was a quick and easy remedy for morning sickness, I was all about it! Ginger is a part of the zingiberaceae family, alongside the well known turmeric and cardamom, and it's most commonly used for reducing nausea, pain and inflammation. I try to add it to my cooking, especially if I'm making an asian dish, such as this.
Need tea inspo? You might like this or this brand.
2. Candied Ginger
I purchase this from The Source Bulk Foods to have on hand in a jiffy. It's great to eat as is, or to place in a cup of tea, or mug of boiling water for a quick fix.
My daughter likes to snack on these as well, so win-win!
3. Plain biscuits
I normally avoid plain biscuits because they have zero nutritional value and serve no purpose except a massive hit of carbs to your daily intake. Every night I'd place a mini pack of Premiums (4 crackers) on the night stand, and if I needed to take the edge off, I'd grab 1 or 2 on my way back to bed and catch some more Z's after my morning trip to the loo. I also needed to take my steroids as early as possible each morning (no later than 7am), so if I felt like I could stomach it, I'd take my tablets with the crackers and head back to sleep. This was a bland and tolerable snack that really works wonders for me.
4. Frequent, small meals
5 times a day, 8 times a day, whatever you need to keep that sickness at bay.
For me, in the early days, it looked a little something like this:
6:30am: Small brekkie with morning meds (simple toast, peanut butter with banana and hemp/chia seeds)
7:30-8am: Second breakfast (eggs and a fruit salad or a smoothie)
Morning tea: 10am (homemade energy ball, or 2)
Lunch:12pm (Salad with veggies, nuts and a protein)
Afternoon snack: 2/3pm (apple with peanut butter or a hard boiled egg x 1)
Dinner: 5-5:30pm (nothing too heavy)
7pm Evening treat: Cob's organic popcorn, a cold orange, or a mediterranean platter with preggo-safe cheese, nuts, pickles and dried fruit
5. Ask for help
"There is no award for being a martyr," I say. Stop trying to do it all for the praise of... whom? Ask your parents, friends or neighbors if and when you need assistance. Call the babysitter to come over and stay in the house while you nap. Make yourself a priority because you can't pour from an empty cup. I'm not a first time mum, so I need to keep well in order to look after my daughter and keep my own body a healthy and happy place for my growing bub.
6. Connect with your community
Pretty straight forward this one. If you're pregnant with your second child, make sure you hit up everything on offer in your town, such as: music classes; playgroups; church groups and gymbaroo. Keeping busy is a great way to help pass those long pregnancy months, and you will probably meet some other mums that are expecting as well.
If you're a first time mum; keep busy! Go to prenatal yoga classes, volunteer, join a book club or keep pinning all your favourite baby things on Pinterest. The first trimester can feel like forever and a day, especially if you aren't feeling well! Focus your energies on productive activities and keep a positive mindset!
Know a friend who is pregnant and might enjoy this advice? Pease share this post with them!
Jan 20th, 2019
He leaned across the table and said, “you’ve got great produce and a bad oven.”
Pedigree eggs (his words not mine) without a place to be cooked only meant one thing - that I'd need to pretty much eliminate my immune system in order to bring my baby to term. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 3 and half months - fortnightly immune suppressing infusions of intralipids (pure fat) and taking enough drugs, pills, antibiotics, needles and hormones to tranquilize a baby elephant.
As someone who really prides themselves on leading a low-tox life, this has been really tough for me. I don’t know the long term side effects of all these drugs. (Will we ever know?)
Maybe one day. Maybe not.
What I do know are the common, short-term side effects like insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, depression and the obvious lack of an immune system. So, ya, it's been a tumultuous few months, and that's not even getting to the hormones. I'm on nearly 1000 mg of Utrogestan a day. These help to keep my uterine lining thick and strong, and if you've ever suffered multiple miscarriages, your doctor might have prescribed these for you as well.
So, if we had plans and you were sick..... I probably cancelled.
If we hung out, and I seemed a bit off. I probably was.
When I was unusually quiet on social media, I was suffering horrible morning sickness or in a bit of a funk, needing (desperately) to focus on myself.
So here we are, 13 weeks in and I'm feeling more human.
For those of you that don't know, this is my second pregnancy, so I'm feeling all the feels and a tinge of bittersweetness because this will probably be my last baby.
I have so much to share with you all about pregnancy, diet, cravings and how to survive the first trimester, all of which will be coming your way soon!
EEK. I'm currently 19.5 weeks along now.
I've stopped all my meds and weened off the steroids over two long weeks, and I'm so happy to report that I'm feeling more like myself! I've been drug free for almost three weeks #hallelujah.
My headaches have subsided, but I did get SUPER sick twice over the last month, which was probably due to a combination of factors. Thankfully I avoided a round of antibiotics by following these simple steps and I'm on the mend.
Thanks again for sharing in our excitement! We've been so overwhelmed by all the love and support the last few days.
This little corner of the internet is for non-yoga topics like motherhood, low-tox living and green beauty products I love.