The Placenta Experiment

April 13, 2011 – 37 weeks pregnant

I’ve decided to try something rather unusual with the birth of my third baby, and I want to document everything so that when others ask, I have very detailed results. I have a feeling it will start coming up in my HypnoBirthing classes and I want to be able to hand my students proof of its effectiveness.

Last September when I took my HypnoBirthing Practitioner Certification course, I was speaking with another practitioner and the term “placental ingestion” came up. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—eating your placenta. The idea of it sounded so disgusting to me and I brushed it off quickly. It wasn’t a part of the HypnoBirthing curriculum, so I figured I didn’t really need to know anything about it. It did come up again during the week, and I realized that a lot of women were doing this. I learned that many women choose to have their placenta encapsulated and just take it in pill form, which gave the same benefits. That didn’t sound nearly as disgusting to me, and I decided I would read more about it.

In March I purchased a copy of “The Natural Healing Power of the Placenta” by Jenny West, a well-known midwife and HypnoBirthing instructor in New Mexico. It’s a short read—I finished it within a couple of hours. Here’s what I learned:

  • There are several reasons most animals eat their placentas after birth.
  • There are so many hormones in the placenta. When our bodies release it after birth, it can often be very difficult to re-adjust to life without those hormones. Many of our post-partum problems can be eliminated by simply ingesting small amounts of the placenta for several weeks after birth. Basically, it replaces those hormones in just the amount needed to allow the body to recover quickly.
  • Some of the benefits of placental ingestion include: ZERO post-partum depression, increased energy levels, quick cramping down of the uterus to pre-pregnancy size (in as little as 5 days!), less post-partum bleeding (spotting after 2 days and no bleeding in as little as 5 days!), ample milk supply for breastfeeding, faster healing of the perineal tissues, reduced post-partum pain, and eliminating hemorrhaging immediately after birth (if it occurs).
  • The two most common ways to ingest your placenta are raw (typically women blend a thumbnail-sized piece of the placenta in a smoothie and drink that) or through encapsulation. You can easily prepare your own placenta for ingestion—step-by-step instructions are found in the book. You can also pay someone to do it for you.

What I have decided to do is keep my placenta and bring it home with me (obviously) and have it encapsulated by Launi Anderson, another HypnoBirthing instructor in the area who also provides placental encapsulation services. Encapsulation can take up to three days. After reading the book, I don’t want to miss out on the benefits of placental ingestion within the first three days after birth, so I’m going to cut off several raw pieces and freeze them for placenta smoothies until I get my capsules back. This will also allow me to compare the difference between raw and capsule ingestion, if any.

I will document everything I possibly can from birth until I stop taking the pills. This will include how I’m feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally as well as how much and in what form I took my placenta each day. I will try to compare everything to my last two recoveries as well. Keep in mind, I’ve never had post-partum depression, but I was definitely very emotional and exhausted for at least two weeks after giving birth. I’m also interested to see if it helps with the severe post-partum cramping and pain I had immediately after Everett’s birth. If I start to have severe cramping again this time, I’ll probably try to ingest a piece of placenta while still at the birthing facility.

I am actually really excited about this, despite how grossed-out it is making my family (especially Nathan!). I feel like the benefits are going to far outweigh the “gross factor,” so we will see what happens!


April 26th – Birthing Day!

I’m not going to write the whole birth story here since it’s not really part of the placenta experiment, but I will say that having drugs during birth may affect whether or not a placenta can be used for postpartum ingestion. So if you are wanting to try this out, go for a natural birth! My HypnoBirthing class is a great option. 🙂

Ok, Harrison was born at 9:05 am. I was in the water at the time. We waited for the placenta to be born, cut the cord, and I got out and cleaned off and laid down in bed. They brought Harrison to my chest and he latched on and nursed for 45 minutes. This could not have happened at my last birth. The hospital routinely takes babies away from mom and they miss out on this initial bonding. Also, after getting a shot of pitocin post-partum last time, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t bear to nurse.

This time my midwives gave me six Ibuprofen as soon as he was born and I used an herbal Anti-Cramp tincture as well. Then, while Harrison was nursing, my midwife brought in the placenta to show me (as I had requested in my birth preferences). It was absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend it. 🙂 As she was breaking off a few pieces for me to freeze, she offered me a raw piece right then and there. I hesitated for a minute while my brain told me “eww gross, don’t do that!” But my body was telling me it needed that piece of placenta, so I took it in my mouth, held it under my tongue, and after a minute or so, swallowed it. At first I tasted nothing, but then I did taste a bit of blood, kind of like when you bite your tongue. Not bad, really.

My placenta! So cool!

It’s hard to say what helped the most with cramping—the Ibuprofen, the tincture, or the placenta—but all I know is that my first three hours post-partum were so much more pleasant this time around. Not only that, but I had enough energy to get up and leave for home after 5 hours at the birth center, and once home I was able to get around fine, get a shower, even do the dishes and pick up a few toys the kids had left around that morning. I didn’t feel that tired, either. This surprised me because I was up from 1 am giving birth! Also, in the hospital I remember bleeding a lot the first 24 hours. It seemed that every time I got up I had a gush of blood. This time, I’ve had pretty stable bleeding, more like a heavy period. I only had a couple times where I felt an actual trickle of blood.

I didn’t take any more placenta today, but I did take the two hunks my midwife separated and cut them into four pieces each, then froze them in a plastic bag, making sure they didn’t touch so I would be able to easily plop them into a smoothie.

Frozen placenta bits


This gives you an idea of the size.


April 27th – Day 1 post-partum

I woke up this morning and had a smoothie for breakfast. 🙂  It was absolutely delicious.

1 cup strawberries (I used about 6 or 7)

¼ cup strawberry-banana yogurt

¼ cup vanilla yogurt

2 Tbsp sugar

1 small banana

½ cup ice

1 piece of placenta (about the size of your thumbnail, mine was a bit bigger)

I couldn’t taste the placenta at all, but there were a couple of frozen bits at the bottom that didn’t get all the way blended so I just had to swallow those. Make sure you blend well to avoid that. 🙂

Today I am feeling pretty good. I feel well-rested, which is surprising after a night of almost no sleep and giving birth, and another night of 6 or so hours of interrupted sleep. Harrison was up a lot between 2 and 5 a.m. so I didn’t get much sleep those hours. My bleeding is about what it would be with a normal period. I’ve gone through two pads in about 10 hours. Emotionally, I feel normal. No crying or feeling overwhelmed. I even let Nathan go to work this afternoon since the kids are still at his mom’s. I have plenty of energy. I have minimal soreness when sitting, and only where the tear is. I’m a bit slow walking around and occasionally (mostly when nursing) feel those intense cramps. At my first post-partum checkup this morning, the midwife said my uterus was quite small for 1 day after birth. She wasn’t surprised since she knew I was ingesting placenta. So far, this seems to be doing the trick!

Tonight I had another smoothie:

1 orange, peeled

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt

1 cup strawberries

½ banana, peeled

1 cup ice

1 piece of placenta

Again, it tasted delicious. I blended it extra well this time and had no frozen bits. 🙂

A placenta smoothie


All blended and ready to drink!

April 28th – Day 2 post-partum

Last night was, of course, another restless night. Harrison is definitely on the newborn schedule…sleeping all day and eating all night! 🙂 Despite being up with him often last night, I woke up feeling well-rested and hopped right out of bed. I had some cereal and a smoothie for breakfast which consisted of:

1 cup red grapes

1 orange, peeled

½ cup vanilla yogurt

1 slice watermelon

1 cup ice

1 piece of placenta

Once again, I couldn’t taste the placenta at all. So far this morning I have cleaned up breakfast, given Harrison a bath, done a load of laundry, showered and dressed, and even put on makeup! My perineal pain is almost gone and I’m moving around much faster today. I have plenty of energy and feel happy and anxious to get out and do something. I think I will take a walk this afternoon.

My milk started coming in last night. This is the soonest it’s ever come in. With my last two babies it didn’t come in until about day 4 or 5 after birth. My bleeding is a little lighter than yesterday—about where a normal period would be or possibly a little lighter. I also noted today that I’ve passed no clots. Interesting, since with both of my other post-partum experiences I passed clots even after leaving the hospital. After Kaisa was born I passed one the size of an apple.

My cramping is getting less frequent. It only happens when I nurse, and goes away after about 1 or 2 minutes. My stomach looks smaller than yesterday, but I still have to wear maternity clothes. 🙁

I had some achiness in my pelvis this evening. I think my body was trying to tell me I was doing too much. I took it easy the rest of the evening and had another smoothie before bed.


April 29th – Day 3 post-partum

Today felt a lot like yesterday. Emotionally normal, energy levels normal. Some achiness in pelvis towards the end of the day. Bleeding is getting darker and thicker. When nursing, cramping is more of a dull ache. I’m down to 2 Ibuprofen every 5 or so hours. I was able to wear a pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans today, although they were my “fat jeans” and were pretty snug! 🙂

I had a smoothie in the morning and evening. My capsules are going to be ready tomorrow so I’ll go and pick them up, but I have two more pieces of placenta for smoothies so I’ll probably finish those and start the capsules Sunday.

Today I was able to get some laundry done as well as keep on top of the dishes. I had all three kids by myself for part of the day, including lunch time. I’m surprised my temper isn’t shorter than normal. Usually when I’ve been sleep deprived I’m a lot more irritable, but it felt pretty much like a normal day as far as my patience level with my kids.


April 30th – Day 4 post-partum

I picked up my capsules today. Yay! I had a smoothie this morning with my last two pieces of placenta and took two capsules this evening.

Placenta capsules!

I’m feeling pretty much like I did yesterday. Bleeding is getting a bit lighter. I did two loads of laundry and vacuumed & mopped my main floor today. Harrison doesn’t like me to put him down (ever!) and I can remember being really annoyed by that with my first two babies, but this time it doesn’t bother me. I’m happy to just hold him as much as he needs. I got a nap this afternoon and feel very well-rested. My mom gets here Tuesday. Life is grand! 🙂


May 1st – Day 5 post-partum

I took a capsule with breakfast this morning. I’m going to start out taking a capsule with each meal (3 per day) and see how that feels. I can adjust from there.

Once again, no significant changes from yesterday. I’m happy and feel well-rested. I have plenty of milk! My bleeding is a little lighter. I no longer have cramping when I nurse. My pelvic/perineal pain was minimal this morning so I took 2 Ibuprofen and haven’t had any since. I’m getting anxious to start exercising again…just waiting for the bleeding to stop!


May 2nd – Day 6 post-partum (and my official due date!)

Bleeding was lighter today. I imagine it will be done in the next couple of days. I feel great! Took Kaisa to dance today and played with the kids at the park afterwards. I have a TON of milk! I had to pump last night to relieve myself. I had a capsule with each meal again today. No pain or cramping at all.


May 3rd – 1 week post-partum

I think after today I’ll only document any significant changes. The days are all feeling pretty much the same at this point. I feel “back to normal” as far as recovering from childbirth (other than some weight I need to lose and a light amount of bleeding). This is pretty amazing, since I couldn’t say that until 4 or 5 weeks post-partum with my other two. I highly recommend placental ingestion. It really works!


May 9th – 2 weeks post-partum

My bleeding has all but finished (I have occasional spotting) and I did the Jillian Michaels 30-day shred this morning. It felt great to work out again! I’m really looking forward to a Zumba class…we’ll see how soon I can get all three kids packed up and to the gym. I’m hoping sometime this week. I have my 2-week checkup with the midwives tomorrow. I’m hoping to get the green light for sex. 🙂 Still taking a placenta capsule with each meal, but I think I’ll go down to twice-a-day soon.


May 10th – 2 weeks post-partum

Everything looked good at my two-week checkup! I went to zumba tonight! Woo hoo! We had sex tonight as well. I never thought I would be able to do either of those things two weeks after giving birth. This is awesome!

When I first heard about placental ingestion, I thought, “who in their right mind would do that?” Now, I wonder how anyone in their right mind would NOT do this. This has been my fastest recovery from childbirth BY FAR. I think the number one benefit has been the emotional stability. I’ve never once felt the roller coaster emotions that I felt with my other two recoveries. I remember randomly crying and feeling so overwhelmed after my first two births, but this time has been completely different. I’m happy and stable all the time. The second best benefit for me was the boost in energy. I haven’t once felt the exhaustion I remember feeling with my previous births. The bleeding didn’t stop as fast as I was hoping but was still much lighter overall. It’s been nice to have plenty of milk for Harrison as well. I’m not sure what my cramping would have been like if I hadn’t taken the placenta, but it was certainly much better than last time. I’m really glad I chose to do this and I will definitely be recommending it to other women who have difficult recoveries or who struggle with post-partum depression.


  1. Karen Bourne says:


    This sounds very interesting. I think you did a good job of describing many aspects of your recovery. How much does encapsulation cost?

  2. Karen,

    I’ve seen prices as high as $300, but if you go to the same person I did (Launi Anderson in Orem) it’s only $50! Hers is the lowest price I’ve seen, and well worth every penny!

  3. Interesting! How did you get the courage to actually do it? Do you think it might help prevent postpartum hemorrhage? Beautiful family, I’m so glad you shared. (BTW I have 4 kiddos, the last 3 were drug-free births)

  4. Courtney,

    Nice to know I have some readers out there! How did you come across my website? My courage came from information…the more I learned about it, the more excited I became. And yes, ingesting a piece of placenta does help prevent (or stop) postpartum hemorrhage. It’s actually an ancient remedy midwives used for centuries. Women were taught to do that if they experienced problems after birth. Anyway, thanks for reading!

  5. Permission to use this on a Website? Im puttinh it together for my hypnobirthing teacher, and she offers this service, and your little review would be PERFECT!

  6. I am very interested in knowing what is in the placenta? Most labs I have contacted do not have test results. If anyone can assist me I would greatly appreciate it. David

  7. Thanks for sharing! You did a great job explaining your experience. I will be giving birth any day now and will have my placenta capsulated. I’m am looking forward to the benefits, & also trying your smoothie idea & recipes! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi Fiona,
    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    I too am a HypnoBirthing practitioner in Perth, Western Australia and came across your page quite by accident.
    Great to hear stories like this.


  1. […] for those who want to know more, here is my post on placental ingestion. Just a warning: it will probably gross you out. 🙂 […]

  2. […] our six-week visit with flying colors! This has been my fastest recovery by far, thanks to my placenta. I feel like I’m three or four months postpartum rather than six weeks. I was preparing […]

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