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Birth Balance Blog

A series of topics related to preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth, bonding, and post partum issues. Feel free to make suggestions for future topics.

Archive for April, 2009

Feelings of Fear

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

    Eyes of Hope stock photo

What do you do when you are sitting alone in your thoughts and all you can do is sit in fear?  FEARFalse Evidence Appearing Real….hmmm Fear.  Others say it represents: F— Everything And Run!  I like this one better. It gives me an excuse to run away from it all.  Leave, move away…think, act, do something else…as if removing my body from where I am is going to take away the feelings.  I cannot get away from it all. It is where I am, right here, right now.  Even as I write this, the fear remains, UNLESS I choose something different.  Abraham Hicks says fear and trust cannot occupy the same space in time.  So, we choose, moment to moment, hopefully taking full responsibility in that choice.  

Neale Walsch, author of Conversations With God Says:  On this day of your life, dear friend, I believe God wants you to know……that your fears have stopped you before, but they need not stop you now. What’s the worst that can happen? And if that  happened, what would happen then? And if that happened, then what? Now…if you give in to your fears, where will that leave you? Right where you are now? And if that’s where you want to be, why is the other option even a little bit exciting to you?

Eckhart Tolle, Author of The Power of Now, says fear is part of the ‘pain body.’ The ‘pain body’ is the accumulated emotional pain from the past and an aspect of the egoic sense of Self.  It is not always active. There are dormant and active periods. When it is dormant, you can live with yourself and so can others. It is still problematic and you can be a nuisance to yourself and others.  Yet, when that sense of Self becomes energized, active, it’s based on the accumulated pain of the past that everyone comes into the world with, genetically, collectively, personally through childhood and into parenthood.  Fear, an aspect of the  ‘pain body’ is a field of alive energy, contracted, temporary life form, that lives in each of us.  

Maryanne Williamson, from the Course of Miracles says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask oursleves, Who am I to be brillian, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you NOT to be? Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us: it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconscioulsy give other people permission to do the same.  As we ar liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

There is a wonderful book entitled, When Fear Falls Away, The Story of a Sudden Awakening, by Jan Frazier. Jan’s website is: www.whenfearfallsaway.com.  

It is known, the fundamental emotion which creates havoc during pregnancy and labor is fear. Fear causes pain in the bodies;  physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The physical body is the grossest and densest of the bodies and the last to receive the information. (Unless you are putting your hand on a hot stove and it will be the FIRST of the bodies to receive the information!) When a woman or partner or birth caregiver is in a state of fear, adrenaline and catecholemines (fight or flight hormones) are being secreted which stop the flow of oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphines and opiates (pain reducers).

So, when we are sitting in our ‘field of fear,’ is it only our own fear or everyone else’s fear in the collective field?  Maybe it’s both, like Tolle says. 

Whew…I am breathing it all off to the left. Remembering what I have forgotten which is I am so much more than it.

Father Knows Best – Oprah

Monday, April 13th, 2009

On April 13, 2009, Oprah did a show on the challenges and wonders of fatherhood.  While there are far more single mothers there are a whopping, 2.5 single fathers in the United States. They deal with all of the struggles a single mother does.  Schedules, cooking, laundry, school activities.  Oprah celebrated these ‘unsung heroes’ on her show.  There were four rather unusual stories that will shock you, move you, bring tears to your eyes as these amazing men find the strength, stamina, heartfelt, selfless duty and love, to share with their children.

One father, Larry Shine, lost his wife, Kate, two and a half years after the birth of their first child. He went on to adopt eight more children from all over the world. Watch a typical day in a house of 10. Watch Larry is a full time corporate attorney and he starts his day at 3 am.  Not only would nine children be a challenge, but the household could not have been complete without their token dog, Betty the Bulldog.

 

Another father, Matt Logelin and his partner Liz, had just became a proud new parents with a beautiful baby girl, Madeline.  Born in the morning and by the afternoon, Liz died of a blood clot no one knew she had. Matt had to mourn the loss of his wife and find and follow-through with a typical day of diaper changes and life moving on.  Matt created a blog to help him cope with the pain.( the blog he’d created) Thousands of people started reading Matt’s blog. This online community shocked him.  Complete strangers were sending him money, toys etc. Matt believes in the ‘give back as much as been given.’ He’s been recycling the clothing Madeleine has grown out of, and has established The Liz Logelin Foundation which helps widows and widowers with children.

The next couple, Gregory Maguire and Andy Newman fell in love and adopted three children from Cambodia and Guatemala. While they might be judged as unconventional by some people…they believe their household is ‘just like any others.’   The names the kids have given their dads are:  “Dada” and “Ba,” the Khmer word for father.

Probably the most touching and heart wrenching story was of a couple Dana Canedy and Charles King. During Dana’s pregnancy, Charles was deployed to Iraq. Six months after Dana gave birth to their son, Jordan, Charles was give a 2 weeks’ leave to see his new family. A full, whirl wind of a visit was to be his only visit with his son. Sadly, Charles returned to Iraq, he was killed in a roadside bombing.  When Dana was five and half months pregnant, she’d bought a journal for Charles to record his notes to his unborn son, Jordan.  Charles became obsessed with putting down on paper his deepest thoughts about what he wanted to say to his unborn son.  After a long day, Charles would come back to his bunk and spend countless hours therapeutically, writing, releasing and sharing.  He wrote about the power of God and prayer in his life. He wrote about his love for the military service and more than anything about his respect for women. What a gift this father gave to his son.  

One note to Dana in his journal: “This is the letter that every soldier should write.  I want to thank you for our son…I’d like to see him grow up to be a man, but only God knows what the future holds.”  (See what Charles wrote to his son. Watch)  

Men don’t typically keep journals. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they might take a lesson from Charles about the preciousness of life, teaching, learning, sharing and pick up that pen and write down in words, that which they might not say directly to their partners, children or family. The world would be a different place.

Maternal Mortality in the USA -A Fact Sheet

Monday, April 13th, 2009


Maternal Mortality in the USA

A Fact Sheet

• The World Health Organization reported in 2007 that 40 other countries have lower maternal death rates than the United States.

• The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that there has been noimprovement in the maternal death rate in the United States since 1982.

• The CDC estimated in 1998 that the US maternal death rate is actually 1.3 to three times that reported in vital statistics records because of underreporting of such deaths. (1)

• The CDC reported in 1995 that the “magnitude of the pregnancy-related mortality problem is grossly understated.” (2)

• The rate of maternal death directly related to pregnancy or birth appears to be rising in the United States. In 1982, the rate was approximately 7.5 deaths per 100,000 live births. By 2004, that rate had risen to 13.1 deaths per 100,000 births. By 2005, the rate was 15.1 deaths.

 • The CDC estimates that more than half of the reported maternal deaths in the United States could have been prevented by early diagnosis and treatment. (1)

 • Autopsies should be performed on all women of childbearing age who die if there is to be complete ascertainment of maternal deaths.

 • Numerous studies have found that in 25 to 40 percent of cases in which an autopsy is done, it reveals an undiagnosed cause of death.

 • In the 1960s, autopsies were performed on almost half of deaths.

 • The United States now does autopsies on fewer than 5 percent of hospital deaths.

 • Reporting of maternal deaths in the United States is done via an honor system. There are no statutes providing for penalties for misreporting or failing to report maternal deaths.

 • In the United States, the risk of maternal death among black women is about 4 times higher than among white women. For 2005, the rate was 36.5 deaths per 100,000 live births.

 • Most countries with lower maternal death rates than the United States use a different definition of “maternal death”, which, unlike the United States’ definition, includes those deaths directly related to pregnancy or birth which take place during the period between six weeks postpartum and one year after the end of pregnancy.

 • Complete and correct ascertainment of all maternal deaths is key to preventing maternal deaths.

 • The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), which has functioned since 1952, is the system believed to have achieved the most complete  ascertainment of maternal deaths while guaranteeing utmost confidentiality. See www.cemach.org.uk

 • The maternal mortality rate for cesarean section is four times higher than for vaginal birth and is still twice as high when it is a routine repeat cesarean section without any emergency. (3,4)

 • There is currently no federal legislation mandating maternal mortality review at a state level.

 • Fewer than half of the states conduct state-wide maternal mortality review.

 • Hospitals do not release reports of maternal deaths to the public; hospital employees are required to keep such information to themselves.

 • The Healthy People 2010 Goal is no more than 3.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. This is a goal that other nations have achieved.

Notes

1. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 4, 1998, Vol. 47, No. 34.

2. Atrash HK, Alexander S, Berg CJ. Maternal mortality in developed countries: Not just a concern of the past. Obstet Gynecol 1995;86:700-5.

3. Petitti D et al. In hospital maternal mortality in the United States. Obstet Gynecol, Vol 59, pp. 6-11, 1982.

4. Petitti D. Maternal mortality and morbidity in cesarean section. Clin Obstet Gynecol, Vol. 28, pp. 763-768, 1985.

5. The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom, www.cemach.org.uk

Prepared by Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, Coordinator for the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, 149 Apple Orchard Lane, Summertown, TN 38483, www.rememberthemothers.net, www.inamay.com

The Truth About Motherhood-Oprah

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

 


Times have changed.  My mother raised 5 children in the 1950’s, without a nanny, cook, housecleaner, babysitter.  When she was pregnant with me, she had 3 toddlers under the age of 5.  Tired?  There wasn’t a WORD for it according to my mother.  She sat down one day at the table in the middle of the day with her mother and just started crying.  Her mother was shocked, “What’s the matter?”  My mother released, “Oh, I guess I am just tired, it all seems so overwhelming!” Of course my stoic grandmother came out with, “You dry up those tears. You have nothing to cry about.  You have a house over your head, food on the table, a husband who doesn’t drink and run around with other women.  You have nothing to cry about.”  Ah yes, yet ANOTHER level of suppression.  

Here we are in 2009, with programs allowing, ‘voices to be heard’. My question is, by expressing one’s experience and focusing on the negative can this potentially keep people in the negative? Or is it therapeuticto ‘get it out’ and not keep it trapped in the body? I understand the rationalization of the expression is to ‘release’ the tension, ‘be heard,’ ‘allow one to vent,’ in order to move on. Yet on this particular show, “The Truth About Motherhood,” while there were funny moments throughout and interesting concepts to ponder, I wonder if we are setting up the women to get ready for the dysfunction before it might not happen?   

Because I have not bore or raised children, most would say I am not one to even have an opinion.  For the past 22 years I’ve counseled, assisted and helped over 1100 babies come into the world.  I speak not  as your average woman without child. I am empathetic and have always encouraged my clients, friends and family members to ‘express themselves’ in order to release and move on. I don’t lie about the realities of ‘lack of sleep,’ needing to take care of oneself amidst the demands of the baby and/or their partner. I encourage coping tools, humor, support and expression to counter the extraordinary demands in this high paced society we live in today.  

“The Truth About Motherhood” : Monday, April 6, 2009. http://www.oprah.com/article/oprahshow/20090311-tows-mom-truth

Longtime friends Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile set out on the motherhood journey together. They had perfect plans—Amy would stay at work after kids; Trisha would have three children, set exactly two years apart. But, like so many best-laid plans, things didn’t work out like they thought. Motherhood, they say, was more overwhelming than they expected. “It was like a bomb hit us,” Amy says. “I didn’t feel I had permission to talk about how hard motherhood really was.” Eventually, Trisha and Amy say they reached their breaking point, and they set out to see if other mothers shared their struggles. After interviewing hundreds of women, they say they’ve heard all the dirty little secrets of motherhood. Their first book, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, was based on their findings. 

One of the most poignant messages on the program that day from a, ‘Stay At Home Mom:”  

Dee-Dee is currently a stay-at-home mom, but she was a working mother once too. “The competition is there because we create it for ourselves,” she says. “There’s really no reason to compete, because [stay-at-home moms] are just as busy as the working mom. The working mom is just as busy as we are. We just tend to sometimes put the focus on the wrong things. We’re all busy 24/7. I consider myself an at-home working mother.” Amy says these wars arise out of our own uncertainties as mothers. “We’re insecure about the choices we’re making—that’s why we’re judging each other,” she says. “We need to give ourselves a collective break.” 

That is right everyone needs to give themselves a ‘collective break.’  People don’t these days, the ego runs rampant.  The oxygen mask goes on the mother last and unfortunately everyone around her as well as herself is dead because she didn’t put it on herself FIRST.  So often women have lost themselves and their relationship with their partner, in the details of everyday life.  Family, children come first, work next, life next, maybe partner and then themselves.  The last and most exhausted part of who they are.  And so these women get sick. All the time they think they are being “strong” because they are able to “do it all.” This is not a reflection of strength, it is weakness. 

Kids need to see that you are ‘real.’ One mother’s response to that realness was:

Now that Karen has learned the ropes of motherhood, she’s got some tricks she’s willing to share. “I think the best way to discipline is for your kid to think that you’re just a little bit crazy,” she says. “You’ve got to make them think that this might be the moment that Mom finally loses it.” Karen says she came up with her new method when she once threatened to take away all of her daughter’s toys. “Of course she didn’t believe me, so she [misbehaved] again and I didn’t even yell. … I went in and cleaned out her room. There wasn’t so much as a Lego left,” she says. A day later, Karen put the toys back, but she says those 24 hours did the trick. “Now, all I have to do is get that sort of wild I’m-gonna-take-all-your-toys-away look in my eye, and she straightens up.” 

Of course motherhood, with the baby on the outside, creates lessons of surrender:

Melinda Roberts, a mom of three, says she had to learn on her own that motherhood is like a 12-step program. “You’ve got to take it one day at a time sometimes,” she says. “You feel like: ‘If I can get out of bed and get breakfast on the table, I’ll be happy. If I can get them to school, I’ll be happy.'”One major motherhood realization that Melinda says she had with her first child was that she could no longer control everything in her life. “You can no longer choose your activities, your down time, when you get to sleep,” she says. “No matter what you do or where you go, you’re always tethered to this other human being in this unbreakable, incredibly fragile way. Anything you do will affect this child potentially for the rest of their life.” 

No program would be complete with out discussion of “Is there Sex after babies?”

One popular topic on Heather’s blog (http://www.dooce.com) is sex and how it changes when you are a mom. “It took seven months [before I had sex after giving birth]. No one had told me that it was going to take that long after what the baby did to me,” Heather says. “Any guy who wants to have unprotected sex? Seven months without it. Just think about that for a minute. Let that number circulate in your head for a little bit.” Karen says the definition of intimacy has changed for her marriage since her child was born. “Intimacy in our house nowadays is my husband and I touching ankles below my daughter’s sleeping form between us,” she says. “It’s really hard to get that loving feeling when you’ve got a 40-pound kid between you.” 

No wrong or right, good or bad, a forum for reflection, discussion and support.  Where do you stand in YOUR truth about motherhood?

Placenta Medicine-The Tree of Life

Monday, April 6th, 2009


So why would one want to do anything with a placenta other than grow a baby in one and discard it after the birth?  That’s a question I get far too often when I bring up the possibility of doing something with the placenta after the birth.

Some people plant trees or bushes over it, other’s bury it in a garden to enrich the soil and celebrate the new life given to them.  It is a dedication of the placenta back to the earth in honor of the child coming into their lives. A year later, a tree, flower, bush is planted int he same spot to allow the placent to nourish its growth.  The waiting of a year is to assure the growth or a new seedling because the nutrient rich placenta can potentially kill anything planted before a year. There are what reader Judy Pfeifer calls “birthing bushes” across the city: flowering yews, almond trees, lilies, camellias, raspberry canes and tomatoes. Roses are popular bushes to plant atop a child’s placenta – and they flourish, I’m told. Magnolias, not so.http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/article/726646

Actor, Matthew McConaughey, brought this ritual into news when he announced he planned to plant the placenta of his son, Levi in an orchard.   If you are planning on planting the placenta, you can freeze it until you are ready to plant it.  After a year in the ground, the placenta breaks down in the soil and delivers nutrients thtat will produce a beautiful tree, bush or flower.  You can even put together a ‘placenta planting party’ and turn the event into a big celebration honoring your child on their first birthday.  A tender suggestion from Loreen Lee: “I think this calls for a garden burial, then above the spot a sandbox and playhouse with a little plaque, `Noah’s place – enter here.'”  Jeanne Mott’s grandsons’ placentas are planted beneath trees that bear flowers and berries in spring, she writes, and a tree with heart-shaped leaves that turns rich shades of golden-orange for her October-born granddaughter. “(The children) all refer to the trees as `my tree,’ and it has become part of their personal identity in their yard, cementing their sense of place perhaps. Just a little thing, but rather sweet.”http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/article/726646

To make a placenta print, you take a piece of watercolor paper and  lay the placenta on it, along with the cord attached.  Let it dry and then choose paints to add color to the piece.  Hang it in a boxed frame because the ‘ink’ is a blood born base and it protects the art as well as others being exposed to the material.  Or store the piece for safekeeping. I was at a birth recently for twins where they were NOT allowed to remove the placentas from the hospital, so I brought in 4 large pieces of art paper and when most of the staff had left the OR (operating room), the head nurse allowed me to make some placenta art for the parents to take home.  They had a vaginal birth with the twins!  This placenta print here is by Patience of Art of Patience.  You may see her other work at: http://artofpatience.ourprairie.net

Still, placentophagy, eating a placenta cooked or not cooked, isn’t something recently dreamed up by crunchy granola types — it’s been going on in many parts of the world for centuries:

  • In parts of Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Morocco, new mothers once believed eating the placenta guarantees future fertility.
  • Once women in Hungary had tired of the whole child-bearing business, they believed that by burning the placenta and placing the ashes in their husband’s drink, he’d soon be shooting blanks.

The German word for placenta is Mutterkucken and the Dutch word for it is Moederkoek.  Both words mean “mother-cake.”

Among the Hmong culture of Southeast Asia, the word for placenta can be translated  as “jacket,” as it’s considered an infant’s first and finest clothing. The Hmong bury the  placenta outside. They believe that after death, the soul must retrace the journeys  undertaken in life until it reaches the burial place of its placenta jacket.

Buddhists liken the unfolding of the lotus petals to the unfolding of the divine within  the human self.  The closed bloom represents the heart with its infinite potential for  enlightenment.  The open blossom represents the enlightened self.  Lotus jewelry is a  cherished keepsake for the new mother after a lotus birth.

Among the Navajo Indians of the Southwest, it’s customary to bury a child’s placenta within the sacred Four Corners of the tribe’s reservation as a binder to ancestral land and people. New Zealand’s Maoris have the same tradition of burying the placenta within native soil. In their native language, the word for land and placenta are the same: whenua.

 

The indigenous Bolivian Aymara and Quecha people believe the placenta has its own spirit. It is to be washed and buried by the husband in a secret and shady place. If this ritual is not performed correctly, they believe, the mother or baby may become very sick or even die.

The Ibo of Nigeria and Ghana treat the placenta as the dead twin of the live child and give it full burial rites.

Filipina mothers are known to bury the placenta with books, in hopes of a smart child.

Other cultures place a symbol of their people with the placenta when burying it, as a kind of heritage insurance.

Gossip blogs have said Eva Longoria keeps her baby face by using EMK Placental Face Cream, an $85 product which uses placenta protein extract. Tribes in the Ural Mountains in Russia thought of the placenta as a caretaker for the child — and as such, it deserved a warm welcome. Along with carefully knitted clothes for the infant, they’d create a tiny shirt for the placenta. Some Maori women in New Zealand believe the afterbirth must be buried immediately, and that disposing it in any other way will harm the child.

One group of Siberian people believed when the baby laughed in its sleep, it was because the soul of the placenta had visited it. In parts of Norway, mothers would stab the placenta with a knife, believing it was a horrible monster that must be killed.

“It’s an organ. So, just like any organ meat, if it wasn’t kept well — if it wasn’t frozen or kept at a cool temperature — you have a danger of bacteria or something growing,” Schorn says. “But there’s nothing inherent about placenta that would make it more dangerous than any other meat.”

There are recipes for cooking placentas such as, placenta stew,  placenta lasagna, power drinks and others.  Some choose to eat the placenta raw.  Consumption of uncooked human placenta carries risks associated with other human blood products.  There is the risk of hepatitis B,C, and HIV infection.  If you eat your own placenta, it doesn not carry these risks.  There are many reasons for eating the placenta after a birth.  It helps the womb to contract.  Many animals eat their own placenta as a means to hide the scent from predators.

The placenta is a living organ, filled with natural oxytocins, attached to the mother’s womb where it draws nourishment and oxygen from the mother and delivers it to the baby via the umbilical cord. The placenta joins the mother to the baby and the baby to the mother. It is truly the baby’s “life support” system during the pregnancy. It is about 1/6th of the baby’s weight.  It  acts as an endocrine gland, producing estrogen, progesterone and gonadotrophin. The womb and the placenta have a fine membrane separating them. Surprisingly, the blood of the mother and the baby do not mix.

Placentas have a life and mind of their own, connected energetically and physically to the mind of the baby and the mother. Sometimes the placentas register in the womb in an anterior or posterior, low lying (placenta previa) or high lying position.  If the placenta is low-lying, near the cervix, there is an imagery exercise one can do to help “raise up the placenta” so a vaginal birth is possible.  Placentas can also be attached too deeply into the womb wall, (placenta accrete) which might cause problems with the removal after the birth of the baby. Imagery can be helpful here as well.

Preparing the placenta for consumption by mothers is considered traditional among Vietnamese and Chinese people. The Chinese believe a nursing mother should boil the placenta, make a broth, then drink it to improve her milk. Traditional Chinese Medicine consider the placenta a powerful and sacred medicine full of life force, Qi. Chinese women thought a bite of dried placenta would speed up labor. They make medicinal capsules and/or herbal – homeopathic tinctures out of it.  Some consider it cannibalism, others find it extremely helpful to ward off ‘baby blues’ experienced in about 80% of women in the first few days or weeks after the birth. Some situations become more severe and post partum depression, (PPD) may evolve.  The placenta medicine has been known to; ward off both the blues and PPD, shorten the post bleeding time, restore lost hormones, nourish the blood, replenish depleted iron, reduce the overall recovery time from labor and birth for baby and mother after the birth, increase energy, boost the immune systems and enhance milk production. Placentophagy, or consumption of the placenta has been around for centuries.

The Science of Placenta Medicine is:  (Taken from www.placentabakery.com)

The known ingredients that give the placenta its healing properties are:

Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone,

Prolactin: promotes lactation,

Oxytocin: for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others,

Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events,

Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores,

Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections,

Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory,

Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, a common postpartum condition,

Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing,

Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.

So, as you can see, the placenta is full of feel-good hormones and healing chemicals,

Clinical Research:  (Taken from www.placentabakery.com)

“It has been shown that the feeding of desiccated placenta to women during the first eleven days after parturition causes an increase in the protein and lactose percent of the milk… All the mothers were receiving the same diet, and to the second set 0.6mg of desiccated placenta was fed three times a day throughout the period. Certain definite differences in the progress of growth of the two sets of infants are to be observed. It is evident that the recovery from the postnatal decline in weight is hastened by the consumption of milk produced under the influence of maternally ingested placenta.” McNeile, Lyle G. 1918. The American journal of obstetrics and diseases of women and children, 77. W.A. Townsend & Adams, original press: University of Michigan.

Powdered Placenta Hominis was used for 57 cases of insufficient lactation. Within 4 days, 48 women had markedly increased milk production, with the remainder following suit over the next three days.” Bensky/Gamble. 1997. Materia Medica, Eastland Press, 549.

“All patients were given desiccated placenta prepared as previously described (C.A. II, 2492) in doses of 10 grains in a capsule 3 times a day. Only those mothers were chosen for the study whose parturition was normal and only the weights of those infants were recorded whose soul source of nourishment was mothers milk. The growth of 177 infants was studied. The rate of growth is increased by the ingestion of placenta by the mother… the maternal ingestion of dried placenta tissue so stimulates the tissues of the infants feeding on the milk produced during this time, that unit weight is able to add on greater increments of matter, from day to day, than can unit weight of infants feeding on milk from mothers not ingesting this substance.” Hammett, Frederick. S. 1918. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 36. American Society of Biological Chemists, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, original press: Harvard University.

“Giving…placenta to a new mother following birth has become standard protocol among a growing number of midwives in the United States. By nourishing the blood and fluids, endocrine glands and organs, Placenta will …reduce or stop postpartum bleeding, speed up recovery, boost energy and relieve postpartum blues.” Homes, Peter. 1993. Jade Remedies, Snow Lotus Press, 352.

This is the LONGEST umbilical cord I have seen in my 23 year career:  38.5 inches long.  Normal is: 20ish”

Then, there’s the not-so-ceremonial use of it, the commercial use of “placenta extract” found in some cosmetics, such as facial cream sold in France. In 1994, Britain banned the practice of collecting placentas in hospitals from unsuspecting mothers, after it was learned that 360 tons of it were annually being bought and shipped by French pharmaceutical firms. They used it to make a protein, albumin, for burns and to make enzymes to treat rare genetic disorders. Did you know that many beauty products contain placenta? (Jodome Organic Placenta Soap)

Freezing the placenta is not suggested unless it is for a short period of time. (up to 3 months) If you do freeze your placenta, it is best to double zip-lock it in gallon sized bags with all the excess air squeezed out within an hour or so of the birth. Refrigeration for any ‘length’ of time will result in ‘spoiled meat’ and the placenta will not be viable.  If you are having your baby in the hospital you must speak with your medical caregiver ahead of time, before the labor and birth about taking it home with you.  Most hospitals have a protocol to bring your placenta to pathology, keep it for five or more days and then discard it.  It will not be refridgerated and probably put in formaldihyde.  You must not use the placenta at this point.  Make special arrangements with the hospital staff to either release it right away or have it immediately frozen rather than refrigerated if they insist on keeping it for a period of time. Legally the placenta is your property. They may require you to sign forms upon admission regarding the after birth.  You may just write, “I do not consent” on the form.

It must be in your birth plan at the time to delay cord clamping and cutting until the cord has totally stopped pulsing.  Early cord clamping leaves the placenta engorged with blood and the baby is deprived of up to half of their blood volume and vital stem cells.


So what is the proper way to prepare an encapsulization of the placenta? Every website will explain it a little differently. It is best to encapsulate within 2-3 days after the birth.  I find when I steam the placenta before I dry it, there are fewer pills than when I just rinse the placenta with cold water, cut it into thin slices and dehydrate it. The ‘energy’ put into the preparation will go into the capsules, so healing prayers, music and laughter is best when preparing the medicine.  One can pay someone to do the procedure, which can take from 12-18 hours to do, or research and do it yourself.  I can get between 130-250 pills per placenta.  If I do not make an herbal tincture with part of the placenta and the sheath or sacs, I can get more pills.  Contrary to what many people say, I actually DRY the amniotic sacs and pulverize with the rest of the placenta parts.  I also add a bit of dried lemon grass, echinacea and garlic to help boost the immune system to the mother and the baby. Lemon grass treats problems with digestive systems and is useful for relieving muscle spasms.  It also balances the nervous system and provides a gentle boost when exhausted. Echinacea stimulates the immune system and promotes T-cell activation. It helps white blood cells attack germs. Garlic is well known as the “wonder drug” for boosting the immune system.  By adding a small amount of each of these herbs to the capsules, the color of the pills may change from a darkish black to a lighter brown.
After the capsules are made they suggest a postpartum course of 2 capsules at a time with white wine. The wine is suppose to disperse the energy of the placenta throughout the body.  This dosage can be taken up to 3 times a day until the mother feels balanced out. The remaining medicine can be taken homeopathically for the times when one’s child may be undergoing separation anxiety, or first steps, weaning a baby, etc.
I also make herbal ‘tinctures’ with different parts of the placenta. I gestate the parts for 6 weeks in one hundred proof vodka in a glass jar.  I put the name of the mother/baby and birthdate on the outside of the glass jar along with a particular word that will carry the vibration the mother would like to infuse in the medicine.  Afterward I drain out the excess birth matter and give the client a quart jar of pure mother placenta tincture.  She can put 10 drops in a small amount of water and drink it during the times of transition for her baby or herself after the capsules are finished. This becomes a remedy for her and the family for many years. If one chooses to break down the mixture 10, 20, 30 times, etc., in a mixture of 80% distilled water and 20% alcohol, they can have a homeopathic remedy for the rest of their lives!

Jeanine Parvati-Baker, a shamanistic midwife, taught me to cut the umbilical cord from the placenta, lay it out flat on a piece of wax paper overnight to dry and in the morning, roll the cord partially dried into a circle and let dry completely.  Then I put the cord, a placenta capsule and some sage leaves into a small animal skin medicine bag I have made by a woman in Florida:  Charlotte Litton Bryant, charlo721@yahoo.com /Email. I encourage the parents to take the cord out each year, take a photo of it and observe how it changes as it dries every year.  Jeanine would do a ‘reading’ each year for her children, just by looking at the changes in the cord.

There is a wonderful book called, “Placenta: The Gift of LIfe,” by Cornelia Enning.  The book covers the rituals from around the world, and the historical use of placenta remedies used throughout the ages.  There are recipes for ointments, essences and other remedies. This is a groundbreaking book and the only guide to using placenta currently on the market. To order go to:       http://www.midwiferytoday.com/merchant2/merchant.mv? Store_Code=MT&Screen=PROD&Product_Code=MB01


Another book about placenta medicine JUST hot off the press:    “The Natural Healing Power of the Placenta” by midwife,  Jenny  West, LM, CPM. You may reach her to order a copy at:          505-  294-4359 or info@tubsntea.com  or http://www.albuquerquehomebirth.com/contactJenny.htm

The placenta is a rich source of blood stem cells.  “Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report a surprising finding about embryonic development: the blood system begins to form not only in the embryo itself, but also in the placenta, the organ that nurtures the baby in utero.” To read more, go to:http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news/Placenta-Is-A-Rich-Source-Of-Blood-Stem-Cells-178-1/

Discarded placentas deliver researchers promising cells similar to embryonic stem cells.  “Routinely discarded as medical waste, placental tissue could feasibly provide an abundant source of cells with the same potential to treat diseases and regenerate tissues as their more controversial counterparts, embryonic stem cells, suggests a University of Pittsburgh study to be published in the journal Stem Cells and available now as an early online publication in Stem Cells Express.”  To read more, go to:http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news/Discarded-placentas-deliver-researchers-promising-cells-similar-to-embryonic-stem-cells-1575-1/

This is an article put out by Search Time.com, partners with CNN on Friday, July 3, 2009. It’s entitled, “Afterbirth: It’s What’s For Dinner” By Joel Stein, an LA journalist.  A professional placenta chef comes to Stein’s home to prepare his wife’s placenta into pills. There is a video  included in the article:  http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1908194,00.html

A wonderful site to gather information and possibly order your own kit to encapsulate your placenta is: Placenta Benefits.info with Jodi Selander. There is an article in The Compleat Mother, Issue Number 87, 2008, $3, “Placenta For Postpartum Wellness,” by Jodi Selander, North Las Vegas, Nevada.  To get a back copy of  the issue: contact: Jodi McLaughlin, editor of The Compleat Mother at Jody@minot.com.   If you would like to download the article from a URL, please go to:http://www.compleatmother.com/pdf/no.87-Fall’07.pdf.  The download will take about 15 seconds with a fast connetion and longer with a slower connection.

Check out the following video by Dr. Stuart Fischbein: Delayed Cord Clamping:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/yt-WWCOzkSe85M/dr_stuart_fischbein_delayed_cord_clamping/

British designer Alex Green had grander ambitions – he made a  teddy bear out of one, which has caused a stir in England, where  it’s still on display in art galleries. His point was to provoke thought about Western society’s disdain for an organ that sustains life. “I was trying to give the placenta a bit of PR,” he says.   The name of the  article about this is: “Placenta Teddy Bears,  Meals Sier Debate, Revulsion.  Inventive Uses for the Afterbirth  Include Placenta Pill, Objects,  Trees.”  By Lauren Cox, ABC News  Medical Unit, November 10, 2009: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/placenta-teddy-bear-turns-heads/Story?id=9043347&page=1

MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE PLACENTA CONTROVERSY:

Placenta pizza?  Some new moms try old rituals, By Melissa Dahl              MSNBChttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22087790/

Ingesting the placenta: Is it healthy for new moms?  By Steve Friess   http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-07-18-placenta-ingestion_N.htm

Afterbirth: It’s What’s For Dinner, By Joel Stein  Timehttp://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1908194,00.html

New Moms Pop Placenta Pills, By Valerie Hauch, The Toronto Star, May 5, 2011  http://www.healthzone.ca/health/newsfeatures/article/985974–new-moms-pop-placenta-pills

Placenta Pill Makers Turn Afterbirth Into Nutritional Supplement For New Moms, By Michale McLaughlin,  Huffington Post, Weird News, December2, 2011  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/20/placenta-pill-maker-nutritional-supplement_n_886420.html

Placenta Encapsulation – CTV National News, August 7, 2011  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBfhXMKdREY&feature=youtu.be

The Rise of the Afterbirth Empire:  Placenta Eating Gains Traction, Huffington Post, Video, Posted 08/23/11 and updated 10/24/11  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/placenta-its-whats-for-dinner_n_934141.html?ir=Parents

Encapsulation Brooklyn – Placenta Eating in NYC, Brooklyn Mamas Netowrk, August 26, 2011 http://brooklyn.mamasnetwork.com/baby/encapsulating-brookyln-placenta-eating-in-nyc/

Placenta’s Hidden Health Benefits. Placenta Stew Anyone?  By Mummy Buzz with The Ummy Mummy Club, August 24, 2011  http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/placentas-hidden-health-benefits

Placenta Pills To Beat Baby Blues?  Women Say Consuming Placenta Helps in Postpartum Recovery, with ABC 7 News, TheDenverChannel.com, Ana Cabreara, Posted, August 2, 2011, updated August 5, 2011 http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/28738890/detail.html

Hospitals May Ban This… Find Out Why Every Woman Really Needs And Is Entitled To Her Placenta After Birthing, Health and Fitness Magazine, August 2011 Edition.http://issuu.com/healthfitness.us/docs/h_fm_august_2011_lr/26

Would You Eat Your Placenta? Anderson Cooper, Wednesday, September 21, 2011  http://www.andersoncooper.com/2011/09/21/placenta/#c2366

Placenta Pill For Baby Blues, CTV News Calgary, October 25, 2011,  http://calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20111025/CGY_placenta_encapsulation_111025/20111025/?hub=CalgaryHome

The concept of a many-branched tree, illustrates the idea that all life on earth is related to science, religion, philosopy, mythology and other areas.  A tree of life is a mystical concept alluding to the intereconnetedness of all life, a metaphore for commen descent in the evolutionary sense and a motif in world theologies, mythologies and philosophies.

The tree of life is a powerful, life affirming symbol in almost every culture.  With the branches reaching out towards the sky, roots embedded deeply in the earth, it dwells in three worlds: heavan, earth and the underworld.  It unites above and below.  It symbolizes wholesome truth, stability and nobleness.  When you are in need of  stability and strength, imagine the tree of life.

Nature knows how without even thinking about it.  From ‘mother’s milk’ to the ‘tree of life,’ both nourishing the baby inside and out.  Can we ever marvel enough at it’s wonders and perfect design?

Disclaimer
The information on this page has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The services I offer are not clinical, pharmaceutical, or intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Families who choose to utilize the services on this page take full responsibility for researching and using the remedies.


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