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Should I Eat My Afterbirth? The Science Against Testimonials

Should I Eat My Afterbirth? The Science Against Testimonials

What is an Afterbirth (Placenta)?

The placenta or a more euphemistic term, afterbirth, is an organ that is usually attached on the upper part of the uterus (sometimes lower), as it connects the unborn baby through the umbilical cord. It acts as the ultimate source of supply and a filter for the baby as oxygen, blood, hormones and nutrients are passed through the umbilical cord from the placenta. Therefore it is absolutely crucial for the mother to watch her health so it can maintain a healthy placenta.

The placenta is fully formed by 18 to 20 weeks, but continues to develop with the baby until birth, but just because it’s the end of the placenta doesn’t mean it’s the end of the process of supplementing. Although there hasn’t been a strong case of scientific evidence to prove “consuming” one’s own placenta is beneficial, there is a culture that has grown to stand firm by this practice generating a trend and a market.

Placentophagy:  Eating of the Placenta After Giving Birth

Although this term is generally directed towards animals, the motive behind the animals is similar for the people accepting placentophagy:

  • The nutrients supplying the baby in the womb still remains after birth, therefore it can be seen as a natural way to help mothers with postpartum pregnancy.

Taking this statement at a face value makes perfect sense where many cultures in various parts of the world have or had taken such practice to account. With TV shows and celebrities bringing up the idea of placentophagy which the western culture deems afterbirths as byproducts, this practice has now generated a trend that has divided the public opinion with scientific reason.

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Different Ways to Consume Afterbirth

It is imperative that no mother eat another mother’s placenta due to health hazards. Many hospitals consider placentas as bio-hazard so if you’re considering on taking the afterbirth home, plan ahead by contacting your hospital.

Now, things can get bit disturbing when it comes to different methods of eating a placenta. Just finding an image online of eating placentas can ruin a days worth of appetites, but this popular trend has opened the refrigerator door to create interesting ways to eat placentas.

  • Make a smoothie with fruits and juices
  • Placenta Lasagna
  • Placenta Truffles
  • Go raw. Eat it raw with seasoning
  • Placenta pills

One mother decided to share her process of “How to eat your placenta” with photos. (Warning: Some of the photos may contain some graphic images. Viewer discretion advised)

Benefits of Eating Afterbirth

Here are some of the attractive benefits that are claimed from eating a placenta:

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  • Reduces postpartum pregnancy depression
  • Supports lactation
  • Control postpartum pain
  • Helps with iron deficiency anemia
  • Nutritious

Placenta Benefits.info is an organization that was launched back in 2006 by Jodi Selander, and to this day it has taken strong measures to educate and help women who are interested with placentophagy. They have serviced women all over America with testimonials posted online that shares in-dept views of positive results.

Scientific and Medical View

To see how popular the trend was, researchers looked into the Google Trend, and to their surprise there was a surprising find on how prevalent the idea of eating a placenta was due to the benefits that came with it. However as advocates lay out their facts and scientific research on supporting the cause, there seems to be a whole different result from the other side that shows no evidence on any health benefits for humans to perform placentophagy.

“The bottom line is that there are no human studies that show a benefit to eating the placenta.” – Cynthia Coyle, a clinical psychologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

To this day, there hasn’t been a case to end the debate because many of the testimonies and studies were subjective, which causes the whole argument of whether if this could be a placebo effect. Many of the positive experiences are from anecdotal experiences which makes it uncertain and unlikely for anyone in the field of science to accept it as hard fact.

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As proponents state eating their own placenta is safe and natural, placenta pills that are the popular choice, are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration therefore people who buy placenta capsule should consult with their doctors or even take the time to research the ingredients inside. Another note to keep in mind is placenta tissues have been found to have bacteria which can be harmful if consumed.

To Eat or Not To Eat?

Although many of placentophagy experiences are positive, some people have shared negative results.

One mother had trouble sleeping and was hyper-stimulated as she took placenta capsules. Another mother has posted a YouTube video on her experience with eating placenta and she found her mood to swing up and down, a contradiction to the benefits of placentophagy. On 2012, one mother posted a thoroughly documented experience of her own attempt with placenta pills on The New York Times titled “I Regret Eating My Placenta”

Although the internet has an anecdotal trove of success stories, the evidence through scientific research for humans practicing placentophagia is little to none. However as mentioned from previous studies, the bottom line to placentophagy is it is neither beneficial nor harmful for mothers undergoing this practice.

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Until there is a scientific evidence with clinical tests and trials to determine if eating one’s own afterbirth is beneficial or not, it will be a personal choice for now, but if your appetite craves for placenta after labor, please eat it with precaution.

Featured photo credit: Didriks via flickr.com

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Published on September 21, 2018

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

1. Find your community and ask for help

As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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2. Make peace with the past

Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

3. Make plans and set goals

The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

4. Look for role models

A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

5. Rethink your priorities

Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. Make time for me time

Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

7. Stay organized

With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

10. Live within your means

When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

11. Spend quality time with your kids

The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

Final thoughts

Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

Reference

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