Note: This blog article was originally published by me on PlacentaPalmBeach.com on July 31, 2015. Since then, I have redirected much of my energy into pre-med and lactation studies, and therefore limit my placenta encapsulation services today exclusively to doula clients.
The following fictional stories are based off of true stories I have heard from many new families. These stories are not intended to categorize women according to their experiences; each family has their unique postpartum experience. For the sake of brevity, these stories also only go through some of the experiences of the first few days after birth. An excellent doula or postpartum placenta specialist serves and stays in touch with her clients for months after the birth, because the challenges of recovering from birth and caring for a newborn never end in the first week. However, I do believe these short tales illustrate well the point that making preparations for the postpartum stage and garnering appropriate support for this time of recovery and transition makes a tremendous impact on the well being of family members. Now, without further ado…
Ashley & Matthew’s Story
24 hours after giving birth, Ashley, her darling new son, Chandler, and husband Matthew were heading home from the hospital. Ashley was filled with excitement and exhaustion. She felt tension between her eagerness to get back into her running routine as soon as possible and her nervousness about her body’s tender condition, especially with the second degree tears that pained her perineum.
Matthew had never felt greater love for his wife than today, after seeing her dominate birth and nurture the handsomest tiny boy he’d ever laid eyes on. Seeing her flinch when Chandler latched on to her breast made his heart ache, though. This only added to his feeling of helplessness from the fact that he already couldn’t feed Chandler himself, since Ashley was planning to exclusively breastfeed. He consoled himself with the thought that he would be more involved during the toddler, preschool, and later years.
Over the next couple of days, some co-workers dropped off a few meals for Ashley and Matthew, which they greatly appreciated, although they wished they could get their visitors out of their home sooner. Their needy Chandler always seemed to be hungry, and breastfeeding was still a struggle, even when guests were not around to have to worry about.
Matthew felt needed, also, by his work. When Chandler was 4 days old, Matthew returned to the office, and Ashley was home alone with her baby. Ashley had asked her relatives to wait to visit for a couple of weeks, because she wanted to bond with Chandler first without feeling obligated to meet her family’s desire to play with him — not to mention the fact that she was not comfortable showing people her breasts!
Ashley loved Chandler so deeply, she was surprised that she burst out crying several times that day. She wondered, “What is wrong with me?”
Going to the bathroom still took many minutes, as she managed her lochia, cleaned her stitches, and sprayed her sore spots with dermoplast. In the meantime, Chandler started crying, and Ashley tried to hurry her personal care while attempting to detect if Chandler was hungry, uncomfortable, tired, or something else. She thought, “It’s funny, I feel hungry, uncomfortable, and tired myself!” She wished she had some help right now.
Sarah & Jeremy’s Story
“I’ll be over in about an hour,” Sarah’s doula messaged her, promptly after Sarah texted the doula that she was on her way home from the hospital, with baby Helen in tow and husband Jeremy at her side. Sarah felt excited, not only to be a new mom and to be going home, but also because she couldn’t wait to experience first hand something she had read so much about: placenta capsules. The gift certificate for placenta encapsulation was the most prized and most talked about present Sarah opened at her baby shower. A gift from her sister, Sarah had witnessed the postpartum depression that slowly seemed to overtake her sister and brother-in-law’s lives after the birth of her first niece. The difference after her second niece’s birth was remarkable, and Sarah’s sister attributed this largely to the fact that she consumed placenta capsules over the first few months of the second postpartum period.
Upon arrival at home, Sarah settled into bed for some rest while Jeremy transferred the container with Sarah’s placenta to the fridge and swaddled Helen, lovingly gazing at her as he gently laid her in the bassinet. Soon thereafter, the doula knocked on the door, and Jeremy greeted her with relief. “We’re so glad you’re here,” he said. Their postpartum doula was also trained as a professional placenta encapsulator, so after checking in with everyone, she went to the kitchen to start the encapsulation process. Jeremy sat down to catch up on some work emails and peeked over his shoulder to see the doula filing dishes into the dishwasher. The doula proceeded to clean and clear space in the kitchen, and then took the placenta out of the fridge to prepare it for the encapsulation. A couple hours later, she had all of her equipment packed back up, with the kitchen sparkling and a dehydrator quietly humming away on their counter. She gave Jeremy some notes about the process, then added “I’ll be back tomorrow to finish up. Do you have tonight’s supper planned yet?” Jeremy’s mother had filled their freezer with homemade meals to last for the week, so he signaled a thumbs up to the doula.
The next day, Sarah asked her doula if she could watch Helen breastfeeding, to see if she was getting a correct latch. After a few moments of observation and guidance from her doula, Sarah felt assured that things were going just the way they were supposed to, even though her milk had not yet come in. The doula then listened to the story of Sarah’s labor and Helen’s birth. She felt relieved to have shared all of the details of the labor in a safe place, and found comfort as she processed some of the unanticipated events with a neutral and caring person. Later, when Sarah’s placenta encapsulation was complete, the doula shared guidelines for consumption and added:
“I’ll follow up with you in the next few days, to see how things are going. Keep listening to your body; we can make adjustments to how many placenta capsules you’re taking if we need to. Most women experience their milk coming in around day 2 or 3 when they are consuming placenta, instead of the normal day 3 or 4. Please call me if you have any concerns in the meantime!”
Sarah and Jeremy smiled as their doula left for the day, knowing that they could lean on their doula whenever they had questions about caring for Helen or anytime they needed a little extra support. This postpartum stage was going to be just fine!
After glimpsing into the early parenting days of Ashley, Matthew, Sarah, and Jeremy, is there one story that you prefer? Tidying your home, preparing meals, checking in on your well being, answering common questions, listening to your concerns and even listening to your birth story are all some of the roles that a postpartum doula performs, as well as many postpartum placenta specialists.
There are choices in how and by whom you have your placenta encapsulated. Around the Palm Beaches, I most commonly notice placenta encapsulation taking place in a facility outside of the client’s home, where personal touches and extra opportunity for care and conversation are missing. It does not have to be this way. If you are looking for a placenta encapsulator who gives the high level of service that Sarah and Jeremy experienced, please give me a call today at (561)827-3263. I look forward to meeting you soon!