Early motherhood was one of the worst time periods of my life
Yes. I really did just say that.
And I am not alone. As many as 25% of the women who give birth each year experience full blown post partum depression. Motherhood is supposed to be wonderful and happy and fulfilling, but for many women, this wonderful blessing becomes a regretted burden that they simply cannot fully enjoy. How can that be?
The human body is incredibly complex. During pregnancy, hormone levels soar to accommodate the life that you are creating, but after the birth hormone levels and receptor sites can sometimes struggle to adjust to the new needs during the postpartum period. This, along with other factors, is the cause of “baby blues”. Baby blues are a common complaint of post partum women. Baby blues are part of a somewhat normal process of adjusting to having a new baby. However, for some women these baby blues are the beginning of a spiral into real depression.
When I gave birth to my first child in 2005 I was still a senior in high school. It was an incredibly stressful and difficult time in my life. I felt great for the first 1 - 2 weeks after my baby was born, and despite all the obstacles in my life, I was in love with my new baby boy! But the bliss quickly turned into chaos. I became depressed and resentful. Even though I had a wonderful family that was willing to help me, I felt alone and was irrational. I was angry and sometimes mean, and I was always sad. It was literally one of the worst periods of my life.
Unfortunately, after the birth of my second child, I experienced much of the same. At that point I was married and we wanted to start a family and a life together but the same feelings arose after the birth of my daughter in 2007. Both births were scheduled c-sections. My first was “too big” (10lbs 12oz!) and overdue (6 days) and the hospital I gave birth at for my second didn’t allow VBAC’s. Both births left me feeling very unsatisfied. I couldn’t stand not being able to see my baby for hours after the delivery and then seeing pictures of my newborn child with everyone else while I was in recovery.
My husband and I knew that we wanted 4 children, but I decided that I could not have another experience like that. I did not want another unneeded c-section and I did not want to experience another bout of postpartum depression. I had always read about how much joy and connection that having a child brought to a mother’s life and I wanted so desperately to feel that.
Since I had 2 c-sections already, my only option was home birth with a midwife attending me. I set out on that path to achieve the birth that I wanted but I was still worried about postpartum depression.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, my midwife talked to me about placenta medicine.
Uh… Ew. Gross. No thank you!
I was totally turned off by the idea and wasn’t even interested in seeing or handling or “planting my placenta under a tree” at all. It was at that same time that I got an e-mail from a blog I subscribed to all about the benefits of using placenta medicine. I was absolutely floored! It made so much sense! I couldn’t believe that I had turned my nose up to it so quickly without even asking (or even wondering!) why and how it could benefit me.
After researching more I learned all about how the vitamins, minerals, and hormones in the placenta are perfectly suited to the mother’s need, because they are made by the mother – for the mother! During pregnancy the placenta secretes and regulates certain hormones and those hormones are still present in the placenta after birth and available for use when the mother’s natural hormone levels bottom out. Not only that, but also most other mammals eat their placenta after birth, and research has shown that it isn’t just because it’s a convenient meal or to hide the birth from predators. There seemed to be a true biological reason as to why they consumed their placentas and it just made biological sense to do it myself.
So finally, 10 days past my due date, I gave birth (a VBA2C!) to another big, beautiful, 10 pound baby boy in the comfort of my own home. I was so happy! But this was during the recession and my husband had lost his job and had to start a new career that required him to be gone 28 days out of the month. So 3 days after I gave birth to our 3rd child, he left me alone to go back to work. But I felt great! Of course I was sad to see him go again and being alone had its difficulties, but I didn’t have any issues with postpartum depression or fatigue. I encapsulated my placenta and took it religiously to ward off any anxiety, depression, or fatigue and to increase my milk supply (which I had issues with initially) – and it worked so well for me!
I gave birth to my 4th and last child last year, another home birth VBA2C, but I didn’t encapsulate my placenta right away. By that time I had 3 other children and I was homeschooling 2 of them and I was just so busy that I couldn’t find the time to do it. After about a month I started feeling sad and unsatisfied. I took this as a cue that I needed to get my placenta out of the freezer and take it as soon as I could. After the encapsulation, I felt better within just a few days!
It can be difficult to share this remedy with hesitant new moms, but I really urge people to at least look into it. Postpartum depression and fatigue can take so much joy out of an experience that is supposed to be one of the best of your entire life. Every woman deserves a happy, healthy postpartum experience!