I adore being a doula; I love birth, I love supporting and empowering women and families. I love the intensity, magic and power you feel in the birth room. The intimacy and sacredness, I am privileged to be a part of each time I attend a women in labour.
But I confess I wasn’t so in to placentas. They were fascinating, definitely an important part of pregnancy but they weren’t my bag. Until…until I realized that women wanted to eat them. Women were looking for someone to help them take the placenta in it’s ewwey gooey form and make it into a neat, little, easily ingest-able supplement. I took my training because women were looking for help, they wanted this service. I started out doing it because the community called for it! Once I took my placenta encapsulation training I understood why women wanted this. The touted benefits list is pretty awesome:
Better milk production
Nicely balanced postpartum moods
More energy from all the B vitamins
Shorter postpartum bleeding phase
Less pain and easier recovery
Once you hear all that it seems like a no brainer.
Now I drive home with a placenta in my truck, giddy to open up the cooler and discover this placenta, this totally unique, beautiful little organ. I love tracking the stats, how much it weighs, if it’s got calcification, the colors, length of cord, how many pills it resulted in. It may seem weird and I totally give you that, you can put me in the weirdo category. But each one really does tell a story, and has a its own energy.
Some people say that every child is a twin and its placenta is it’s sibling, some people do placenta readings, and say that you can get an idea of the child’s personality from their placenta. That may sounds crazy but I get it, there is a special magnificence to these organs, one that people may never understand. But after you’ve handled hundreds of placentas you start to have their magic rub off on you. Processing a placenta becomes therapeutic, I get to honor the placenta and it’s part in the pregnancy, thank it for it’s work and send it on it’s way to continue to support mom and baby in the postpartum period. I get to bless each mother who entrusts her placenta to me and I put a little blessing in each pill, “peace, love, joy, good milk production, easy recovery, and good family bonding”. My gift to you! Now…. I love placentas!
Want to have your placenta encapsulated? I have an easy online intake and booking!
Another placenta discussion is coming up in Cranbrook next month. Come visit your local placenta specialist and learn more about the benefits of placenta encapsulation. The midwives from East Kootenay Midwifery are hosting the FREE evening once again, 6pm at the clinic, 1617 Baker St. Cranbrook, BC. Space is limited so rsvp to 250-427-8877 quick, to hold your spot!
Sometimes as a doula seeing so many healthy babies born and placed on moms bare skin I forget the researched benefits of immediate skin to skin contact. It is astounding now rereading the facts, that any hospital would continue to routinely separate mother and newborn.
What & Why practice skin to skin?
Skin to skin contact; often referred to as kangaroo care, is the practice of placing dried, newborn, naked baby on mothers bare skin.
Aside from the fact that you have just worked incredibly hard to bring your sweet baby earthside and now with every fiber in your body, you will most likely want to snuggle this new being into your bosom, get to know them, exclaim over the perfectness of their nose, the softness of their skin and kiss the top of their head. There is a huge benefit to baby and mother scientifically for immediate and prolonged skin to skin contact after birth. The World Health Organization quotes evidence from 34 randomized trials involving 2177 women and their babies and recommends kangaroo care for the first hour following birth.
Benefits for baby:
Mothers bare chest is babies happy place
Babies are calmer and less stressed
Babies tend to cry less
Babies maintain their temperature, they are more stable and regulated then when placed in an incubator
Heart rate stays within normal range
Oxygenation levels are maintained as heart rate is regulated
Babies blood sugar levels are increased
Improves sleep organization
Immunity is increased as baby is colonized by the same bacteria as the mother
Breastfeeding is more likely to occur easily
A good latch is more likely to occur
Prolonged skin to skin is beneficial for babies and older bubs too, for many of the same reasons.
Benefits for mother:
Learning early cues of hunger
Reduces postpartum depression
Increases milk production
Speeds recovery time (often because mom is staying in bed with baby)
Improves emotional well being
Are there risks?
“The researchers found NO risks related to skin-to-skin care—only benefits. Importantly, the researchers found multiple risks to routinely separating moms from babies after birth. Separating a healthy baby from a healthy mom after birth decreases the chance of successful breastfeeding and raises the risk of the mother’s breast engorgement and anxiety, and instability of the infant’s heart rate, respiration, temperature, and blood sugar. Babies who are separated from their moms and swaddled are 12 times more likely to cry.”
If you want to continue offering your babies these fabulous benefits the best thing you can do is to stayed cuddled up in bed for the first few weeks of their life. The holding, nuzzling and breastfeeding your baby on demand all give mom a rush of oxytocin, the hormone that helped you give birth but which now helps your uterus shrink and return to non-pregnancy size. That flood of oxytocin you receive is also helping your response mechanism; you relax, and have a sense of well being while, it creates nurturing and affectionate behaviour in you towards baby.
If you are a mom of toddlers or older children staying in bed may be more challenging, but it isn’t necessary to deprive your new born of skin to skin, Nuroo Baby is a company that has developed a carrier shirt allowing mom more mobility while offering baby the warmth and the comfort of skin to skin. I have personally been able to try out these tops, they are lovely, providing baby a perfect cocoon.
Kangaroo care is a low technology, high touch approach to new born care and it is saving lives!
“In developing countries, Kangaroo Care for low-birthweight infants has been shown to reduce mortality, severe illness, infection and length of hospital stay” -Canadian pediatric society
The power of skin to skin is so powerful that babies have returned to life after Doctors pronounce them dead.
“Nature prepares you and your baby to need and seek each other from the moment of birth. Oxytocin, the hormone that causes your uterus to contract, will stimulate “mothering” feelings after birth as you touch, gaze at, and breastfeed your baby. More oxytocin will be released as you hold your baby skin-to-skin. Your brain will release endorphins, narcotic-like hormones that enhance these mothering feelings. These hormones help you feel calm and responsive and cause the temperature of your breasts to rise, keeping your baby warm. Because of the normal “adrenaline rush” babies have right after birth, your baby will be bright, alert, and ready to nurse soon after birth. During the hours and days following birth, you will learn to understand your baby’s cues and unique way of communicating with you.”
“Studies have shown that even premature babies, as small as 1200 g (2 lb 10 oz) are more stable metabolically (including the level of their blood sugars) and breathe better if they are skin to skin immediately after birth. Skin to skin contact is quite compatible with other measures taken to keep the baby healthy. Of course, if the baby is quite sick, the baby’s health must not be compromised, but any premature baby who is not suffering from respiratory distress syndrome can be skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth. Indeed, in the premature baby, as in the full term baby, skin to skin contact may decrease rapid breathing into the normal range.”
Beautiful Haitian woman wearing her sisters twins
Kangaroo Mother Care says, “Skin-to-skin contact should ideally start at birth, but is helpful at any time. It should ideally be continuous day and night, but even shorter periods are still helpful.”
Pub Med reports that, “Behaviorally based measures of sleep have shown increased quiet sleep (QS) and decreased active sleep (AS) during skin-to-skin contact (SSC) with the mother”
If you are involved in hospital care for newborns and new mothers and want to provide more training for your staff on the benefits check out this link for a dvd training!
Got some exciting news for you this week! This Saturday April 19th, Miranda of Elderberry Birth and I will be hanging out at the Yarrow Earth Day event.
There is a ton of family friendly activities for you to enjoy plus you can come meet us at our tent, we’ll have a comfy chair to nurse and rest in, some goodies for you to taste test, and rebozo sessions. We’ll be talking birth & postpartum, offering some Mama Line Essential Oils and I will be unveiling the new Blessing Way Baskets.
So come visit us, go on an Easter egg hunt, grab a burger and go for a pony ride! Hope to see you there!