My work on birth and pregnancy has brought me so much, in particular, connection to so many amazing women. Sarah is a new friend of mine: an aspiring midwife, an inspired writer, a gentle mother, and an advocate for babies and normal birth. She so generously offered to prepare Felix’s placenta for encapsulation, and I sat in on her process when Felix was three days old.
I should maybe explain that I have two frozen placentas in my deep freezer here in New Brunswick, and I believe my Mum has two frozen placentas in HER deep freeze in Vancouver (Cedar and Kristjan’s!). Yes…it’s weird. I had planned on planting placentas under trees with ceremonial aplomb, but the last 10 years of my life have been peripatetic, and so the placentas have moved with me.
But I have also had severe mastitis when ALL of my babies are around 3 weeks of age. Gloria tells me that this is because I try to do too much, and I know this is completely true. I’m hoping that this time I can continue to try to do too much, pop an encapsulated placenta pill, thus avoiding the fever and delusions and pain that come with mastitis! Ta da! Erg. I know, I know. This makes no sense. But in seriousness, I have been hearing much anecdotal evidence over the years of the medicinal properties of dried placenta for some time, and I am interested in finally testing this for myself.
I never anticipated how emotional it would be, to see our placenta “there”, away from the “us” unit that is Felix and me, as motherbaby as we are right now. But prior to any “processing”, Sarah whipped out some natural vegetable dyes, and created several absolutely *gorgeous* prints of Felix’s spirit-brother (as the placenta is envisioned in many cultures) on heavy watercolour paper. The beautiful artwork that I have now, to keep forever, greatly assuaged any sadness I had over seeing our organ turned into medicine. But I should also say that Sarah treated the entire process with such dignity and respect, and I am very grateful. Thank you, Sarah!
(In a nutshell, placental encapsulation goes like this: The placenta is washed and dried, and the membranes removed. Some people prefer to lightly steam it in lemon and ginger–the traditional Chinese method–and others prefer to work with the placenta raw. The raw or steamed organ is then sliced into strips, and dried in a dehydrator. When dry and rather brittle, it is then pulverized using mortar and pestle or a grinder, then encapsulated in gel or veggie-caps to be taken as medicine. It is sadi to stabilize emotions, re-balance physiology, and prevent/heal postpartum maladies like mastitis. It is also believed to help with postpartum bleeding and energy levels, among other healing properties.)