This article is written in partnership with Ancestral Supplements. They’re dedicated to putting back in what the modern world has left out, ethically, and we’re proud to work with them. ~ ed.
Editor’s Note: Women should unequivocally have 100% autonomy over their bodies, and what they decide to put in them. Seeking medical advice from a professional is a good idea, and honoring your dietary preferences, physical needs, and mental health is always the best idea.
Women are left in the dark.
Well, mostly. We’ve come a long way from the time I hid in a middle school bathroom stall at the sign of my first period, when shame weighed me down more than any amount of bloating could. I was stricken with all the panic, and I was given zero answers. I just grabbed a pad and figured it out.
You would think by the time we’ve reached childbearing age, in the Age of Information no less, that would dissipate completely, and we’d be armed with all the support we need to navigate the transformations our bodies endure.
Sure, we’ve got the clever and charming What to Expect When You’re Expecting toilet-bowl reads when we get pregnant, but uh—where’s that energy once we actually give birth? Where’s the adorably titled: What to Expect When You’re Entering Menopause?
We’re hard-pressed to find a meno-podcast at the top of the Spotify charts. And although these channels of information are expanding (thank God), we tend to rely on input from modern medicine, and there are still some gaping holes in the bedside manner that accompany women when they’re faced with the two most life-altering events they’ll ever experience.
According to a case study conducted by the NIH, women are given more prep for a standard surgical procedure than they are for postpartum care (3):
“I had knee surgery and I got a ‘What to Expect’ sheet from the doctor meaning that it said, ‘Make sure you do this’…None of that came with that [c-section] so you kind of have to feel your way through, because none of that, none of it is really told to you.” ~ Private Participant, C-Section Delivery Maternal Group
Modern, clinical medicine emphasizes fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding—the ‘cute stuff’—but skips right over the emotional and physical rapids of postpartum life. Postpartum depression is a coin toss, and many women are beginning to turn to primal practices to help them mitigate that risk.
There’s an age-old option immediately after giving birth cited to support postpartum woes that less women are leaving on the table, and instead—encapsulating and consuming: the placenta. Claudia Booker, a D.C. resident midwife, is a hardcore placenta proponent (1):
“What I tell women is that the placenta is an endocrine organ, and endocrine organs, among other things, trigger the body’s production of hormones. It can help make your breast milk come in. It can also trigger the production of estrogen, mitigating the baby blues and perhaps helping ward off postpartum depression.”
That’s right, placentophagy—the act of consuming part or all of the afterbirth following parturition in mammals—is rising in popularity, and it’s a concept that was conceived (pun intended) long before we were.
Our friends, and ancestral experts, know its spiritual roots all too well, and it’s no coincidence that the placenta’s image has been likened to that of a life-giving tree. According to Brian Johnson—wellness expert and surveyor of spiritual ancestry—dietary, medicinal, and spiritual uses of both animal and human placenta were already well established when the ancient Egyptians were stacking their pyramids.
Early indigenous peoples sourced medicine from animal organs that are often discarded now—the same ones shown to provide a “like supports like” modality—which points to consumption of the placenta as a means of supporting postpartum health.
They were leagues ahead of the placenta smoothies, recipe books, and placenta artwork that are on the rise—and they even laid the groundwork for the (now notorious) pink-and-blue-themed parties.
Gender Reveal Parties before they were Cool (and destroying entire California landscapes).
There were no blue or pink confetti cannons at the original gender-reveal parties (thank God). Instead, there were placentas sewn with medicinal herbs into turtle-shaped pouches for baby girls, and into the shape of lizards for baby boys—a.k.a. ancestral animal balloons.
Women of the Cheyenne tribe would do this to represent the spiritual connection between mother and baby, and many native people worldwide would ritually bury their infant’s placenta to fertilize a new sapling, which acts as a guardian spirit for the child as they grow together.
“The Cheyenne said that a child who did not have a navel amulet would always be looking for his or her soul.” ~ Brian Johnson
The placenta was believed to be a helpful ancestor or spirit-twin, and it was honored with this purpose instead of being discarded as hazardous waste. According to Brian: “there is now some thought being given to bringing back the widespread ancient custom of ritual placenta disposal and consumption, which has been totally dismissed and disrespected in our modern hospitals.”
Based on the input from Brian’s functional healthcare practitioners, mothers who consume placenta after birth have reported bleeding significantly less, noticing an elevated mood, and feeling more energized. (2) The key beneficiaries of these effects aren’t limited to nursing moms either—they also extend to women entering menopause.
From Ancient Rituals, to Modern Motherhood, to Menopause.
Take it from a modern mommy, Karla Cupial, who I had the opportunity to chat with about her own placenta encapsulation journey:
“I am a firm believer in placenta encapsulation and recommend it to everyone. I had to get a C-section, so the first day before I took my placenta pills I was exhausted, in pain, and emotional. After I received my placenta pills within 24 hours, I had energy, a clear mind, little to no pain from the C-section. What else could a new mom want?! I think it would be ludicrous to NOT talk about this. I really think my placenta pills helped me stabilize my mood, increase my milk supply, have only mild bleeding the first two days after birth, in addition to other benefits.
The hospital staff weren’t big fans of me keeping my placenta, and I had to sign a waiver that the placenta would be out of the hospital within one hour. I did it anyway, and I’m very happy I did. I just wish I could have an endless supply of my placenta pills to take for years to come.”
Karla isn’t the first mom dizzied by the physical upheaval of giving birth to have her preferences questioned or dismissed in a clinical setting, which is why having access to alternatives like grass-fed bovine placenta capsules can be helpful in bolstering those first rocky moments postpartum.
There’s less resistance, easier access, and this is what they can offer:
> Whole food heme iron, Vitamin B6, B12, D3 & essential trace mineral Selenium.
>> Rejuvenating stem cells to support skin elasticity and youthful appearance.
>> Product that’s 100% sourced in New Zealand in agricultural circles and green pastures with clean air and water.
Our ancestral experts recommend consuming your own placenta first and foremost, but where that’s not possible, these can fill in the gaps. This can be especially helpful for women segueing into menopause—the other What the Hell Can We Expect camp across the aisle from new moms.
Although postpartum and menopause seem worlds apart as far as life stages go, they’re smack dab in the center of the venn diagram when it comes to hormonal horrors. You’d think the sh*tty sleep, vacillating moods, and hot flashes would be a thing of the past once the postpartum chapter is closed, but we’re lucky enough to sift through them all over again when we unlock Level: Menopause.
It turns out that the same benefits of placentophagy that support new moms also soothe the menopausal maelstrom—you know, the hot flashes, insomnia, nervousness, depressive mood, vertigo, weakness or fatigue, arthralgia or myalgia, headache, palpitations, and stinging sensations—and there’s scientific evidence to back it.
In the Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the effects of porcine placenta were reported on a focus group of menopausal women. It was concluded that oral administration of 400 mg PPE (porcine placenta extract) per day decreases menopausal symptoms in women with a relatively high BMI, and also for early menopausal women. (4)
A previous study from Japan reported that the PPE administration to menopausal women decreased the presence of symptoms including: hot flushes, insomnia, anxiety, depressive mood, fatigue and arthralgia after a six-month period. (4)
These studies co-sign the primal wisdom behind consuming mammalian placenta, which offers menopausal women a reprieve from what can feel like a disillusioning time in their lives—yet another one that women are expected to grin and bear, with little to no preparation for what to expect.
The full-circle experiences of women going through motherhood and menopause are arguably the most primal connections humans have to all who have come before us and all who will come after us. Giving birth, however women choose to do it, is as primal as it gets, regardless of how clinical modern medicine can make it.
Women’s bodies are capable of phenomena that leave us all in awe, but their bodies and minds undergo treacherous, turbulent, and oftentimes mysterious changes to achieve them that seem completely out of their control—no thanks to the limited support available to them.
The good news is that there are options—ones that tap into spiritual, medicinal, and dietary needs that clinical practices can’t always offer. Ultimately, women need to listen to what their bodies are telling them, and answer the call in ways that are most conducive to their healing.
One thing’s for sure, though—women are god damn warriors.
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