Let me start by saying I support my doula sisters who make a few extra bucks by encapsulating placentas. Doulas/Childbirth Educators are always hopefully learning some things from each other, either in real life or this wild world of cyber support via blogs, social media, email forums, etc. We wrap our loving arms around each other in times of need, we offer each other our experiences, suggestions, etc, but we also keep each other in check. We provide accountability for each other. Usually it's done with gentleness and understanding. So I want to be careful because I believe with all my heart that most of us, while we make a little income from our important work with families, truly are in it for the love of supporting moms and babies. I cannot shake this feeling of needing to speak up about something that's been bugging me for a while. I do not mind placenta encapsulators advertising their business, but what I do mind is them stating that there is 'research' supporting the benefits of encapsulation. In particular, regarding the reduction of post partum depression and increase of milk production, though especially the former is really bugging me lately. This is a serious claim, on a serious issue. This can and IS giving moms the impression that there is actually evidence supporting that their dried and crushed placenta taken in pill form can prevent them from getting a PPMD. There is no such evidence that I'm aware of. And I've been told by PE, "YES THERE IS - here's the links! Smiley face" Many times, similar posts show up on these various groups. I've looked at everything they've provided and called 'evidence' before - it was not. It is all based on hypothesis. And I don't think it's an unreasonable one either, I just have a problem with how it's being presented sometimes. I know I'm not the only one thinking it. I know a handful of local doulas, even some who encapsulate or have in the past, who agree with me! I read some of these links and think, "You're kidding, right?" This 'research' says things about women quite possibly lacking iron after the expulsion of the placenta and this is the cause of PPMD. Or similarly, the release of all the hormones in the placenta is the cause of it. But none of these links are studies showing that the consumption of the placenta fixes this hypothetical cause of PPMD, let alone consumption through capsules. Some encapsulators are making a great business out of it, too. Teaching classes to other birth professionals on the how to's - there's one coming to Philly soon. Thank goodness for it, honestly, because initially, women were out there bringing other women's blood products into their own homes with not nearly as much information on safe handling or various processing techniques. What this class is going to cover sounds great. And to be perfectly clear - I support my doula sisters who encapsulate, I refer my clients out for this service if they want it, I have my own encapsulated placenta in my freezer, and I understand the theories and why it makes sense. However, can't we just be more upfront with moms about what this 'research' actually says? When I click through to the educator's beautiful website, I don't see any grandiose claims, but I do notice a some resource links on the left side of her site on 'scientific research' and 'benefits' - however, none of the links open to anything. A recent post on a social media site shows a question from a mom asking if there was any scientific evidence for doing placental encapsulation to prevent PPD. Not to my surprise, again, some PE and maybe some other moms pop in with these links that say nothing of what she's asking. I posted this quote from one of the better articles cited. "Evidence is limited in the areas regarding specific hormones and nutrients a placenta may offer, proposed benefits for nutrition, and prevention of postnatal depression and increased lactation. Interestingly, these are the primary reasons sited to support placentophagy." (Beacock, 2012) - From a British Medical Journal article. Some of these articles, from what I've read of the ones that actually studied something related to placentophagy, seem to say that there are hypotheses and theories based on the components in placenta being able to bridge the gap in terms of hormones lost after expulsion of placenta, however, it is stated more than once that 'evidence is absent'. So, to end, I do not believe there is research that specifically supports placenta ingestion through capsule form being proven to reduce PPD. Anecdotally, amongst my clients and many others I know who've ingested their placenta pills, there are mixed reviews. The reason for that could be many. I just ask that if you are advertising your placenta services, teaching how to encapsulate, or simply commenting on posts like the one mentioned, be very upfront with moms about what research actually says and does not say. Be clear about what is anecdotal, what is theory, what is your opinion, experience, and the limited research there is on anything regarding placental ingestion for treatment or prevention of anything. People will still choose it without having to be led to believe there is scientific evidence supporting it. ~
Oh yeah! Mouth watering yet?
Need a dinner idea? How about make your own Fajita night? You could add some of your own fixin's but this is how we like em'!
I hope the photos below are explanation enough for how to use the ingredients listed to make an awesome marinade and filling for these mouth watering fajitas! They are versatile, of course, you can make changes as you and your family desire! These are not only delicious to sink your teeth into, but oh so nutritious for you, pregnant or not. Can you say IRON packed? Ok, how about chock full of vitamin A, B, C, K? Not lacking in protein, amino acids, calcium, and a diversity of color which always tells me the meal is well rounded. As I do a little nutritional education/counseling in my doula work, I'm often asked if I'm a vegetarian. It surprises some that I'm not. I am a proud and healthy meat eater, and think some moderate consumption of various animal fat and proteins is actually a really healthy habit for pregnancy. I think some of us even need it more than others. Some vegetarians can work through the challenges (mainly getting enough of the very important protein and making them 'complete') and do really well. I am comfortable adapting most things to help out my veggie friends and clients who are learning new ways to incorporate certain missing pieces into their diets. And I love learning along with them. I try to sop it all up, trust me. But this blog post was for my fellow meat eating friends!!! ;) Sorry, I'm not even going to say that tofu or anything else could be substituted because well, that would not fair to the Fajita name. ;) Enjoy!
*London Broil marinated for 4-6 hrs in fridge
*1 of each: orange, red, and green pepper
*3 large onions nearly carmelized before adding other veggies into the pan to complete cooking the 'filling'.
*a green as always. We used lacinato kale (not my fave, but what we had on hand tonight)
*fresh avocado or your fave guacamole
*your fave salsa
*whole wheat wraps (they may need to be larger than 'fajita' wraps to be whole wheat, but this is highly recommended)
1/2 large red onion
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
Click here for my original post on green smoothies!
Oh my goodness, I just had to post my newest favorite green smoothie! That is, if I could even still get away with calling it GREEN because there is plenty of chocolate yumminess covering up all that green stuff. (Note: This could be especially helpful to those trying to share their green smoothies with their children.) I'm going to have to appropriately rename this CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY BANANA MILKSHAKE instead. Ok, so here are the ingredients:
* 3 TBSP ground chia seed (mixed into 1/4 c of water until the consistency of egg whites)
* 2 TBSP raw cacao powder
* 2 cups Dark Chocolate Almond Milk (Silk brand - luckily sold at Wegman's and Target which almost everyone has nearby...no?)
* 3 cups of raw coarsely chopped greens (swiss chard, spinach, kale, collards, beet, turnip, etc.)
* 2 bananas, fresh or frozen
* 1 yogurt of your choice (we usually use Fage greek yogurts so the choice is ours on using the attached fruit puree)
* 1 cup of strawberries, fresh or frozen
This makes 6 cups!
(STOP DROOLING and get blending, I know, I know!!!)
Why drink while pregnant? (Smoothies, of course, get your minds out of the old wine cooler)
Protein, check. Probiotics, check. Fruits, check. Greens, check. Superfoods, check. Whether you follow the basic food pyramid guide (which is now "ChooseMyPlate") or the Brewer Diet, you get to check off many of your daily requirements with one glass. In these ingredients above, you have great sources of Vit. A, B (folic acid), C, K, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, carotenoids, antioxidants, fiber, sulfur, and neurotransmitters (like serotonin and endorphins!) OH MY!
How did I come to develop this recipe???
A client of mine was working on managing high blood pressure right from the start of her third trimester, and initially we were just trying to think of some ways to incorporate more calcium and magnesium into her already pretty fantastic diet - we needed some more creativity. So it got me thinking. I always want to find new delicious green smoothie recipes. How could we combine that with her meeting her specific nutritional needs? I started experimenting and became fascinated until I perfected it. Ok, so chocolate? Huh? Yes! Cocoa, in general is so high in essential minerals, see here. Raw cacao powder, from our local health food store (Martindale's) is not only a good source of both calcium and magnesium but happens to be the #1 BEST food source of magnesium. I figured if we combined the raw cacao powder with the almond milk which is just as high in calcium and Vit. D as cow milk, but less calories, higher in vit. c, antioxidants, and super tasty - we'd have a really healthy yummy treat. The special benefit being that it could aid her or anyone in managing that all too common high BP issue that can sometimes creep up at the end of pregnancy. And then my new favorite thing to include in all of my smoothie recipes is ground chia seed. When mixed with water, it adds this thick creaminess and makes any smoothie taste more like a milkshake. The benefits to chia are endless, really. It is another amazing superfood that I love - like blueberries, brussel sprouts, kale, avocado, coconut, etc. I linked everything up above on the ingredients list in case anyone is interested in learning more. I really try to find ways to help women remain healthy and low risk so they can not only feel good but stay on their path towards normal birth and having a healthy baby. And this delicious treat seems like a good tool to me!
***If you want to cut the sugar (as that is the one downside to the dark choc almond milk - 21 g sugar per 8 oz), you can cut the recipe with water or unsweetened almond milk and surely still be in for quite a treat with all the creaminess and fruit!
Please share below if you have a favorite green smoothie/milkshake recipe! Spinoffs are great, too. Use what you have on hand. It can be so basic. It can be adapted to the gluten free, dairy free, or vegan crowd, too! Get in those greens!
Let's all try this together for the next 3 weeks (how long it takes to adopt a habit), whether you are doing it for prenatal reasons or not! I'm going to focus on the importance of dark leafy greens for pregnancy in this blog post, though. Feedback on what worked best for you is appreciated! Pass on the goodness to others...
Making green smoothies are a super easy and fun way to get some of the very important nutrients into your pregnant body for you and your baby. Yes, you can cook dark leafy greens, but you should know that just 10-15 minutes of cooking kale, for instance, destroys more than half of the water soluble vitamins, such as vit. C. Smoothies are a delicious way to preserve and consume the raw nutrients. This is also a great (secret) way of increasing your bio-available protein which is one of the most important parts of growing a healthy (and smart) baby and staying categorized as a low risk pregnancy.
Vary the use of spinach, kale, chard, bok choy, and mixed southern greens (collards, mustards, turnip tops - tip: sold already chopped and bagged together at Trader Joe's) blended with your choice of fresh or frozen fruit - blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, mango, papaya, and the favorite go to staple - bananas. Add some water and maybe a splash of apple juice for extra sweetness if needed. Yummo way to grow a healthy baby and feel full of energy each day! People are always surprised how easy this (less than 5 min) and how good it tastes! With some experimentation, you'll figure out how to make the amount you'd like so that you can keep some in the fridge for the week. It is best to have small cups of this throughout the day, that is, if you can help from drinking a large glass down all at once. The more you consume dark leafy greens, the more you crave and enjoy them! The better your digestive system works, too! Say goodbye to constipation in pregnancy with this addition to your mornings! Your body will thank you now and forever...and if you keep up this healthy habit through breastfeeding as well, your baby will already love the flavor of leafy greens - how cool is that???
Varying the greens and fruits is important because if you do so, you will be sure to include all of the following vitamins and minerals into your diet that every pregnant mom needs (And for those wondering "Don't I get this stuff from my prenatal vitamin?" NO, They cannot come close to replacing the real thing.):
Vitamins: A, B (folic acid), C, K
Minerals: Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc
Also, when you consume certain vitamins at the same time as certain minerals, you increase absorbability and usability - such as partners like Vitamin C and Iron, both found in dark leafy greens, especially raw. Another pregnancy plus!
And carotenoids! These are naturally occuring pigments that when consumed from fruit and veggie sources, are linked to people being much healthier and dramatically lowering mortality and the number of chronic illnesses.
Can't go wrong with increasing the inclusion of raw dark leafy greens into your diet, pregnant or not - but for a pregnant mama - a MUST! :) - Green smoothies aid in the prevention of increasingly common problems occuring in pregnancies in addition to "morning" sickness such as pre-eclampsia, anemia, GD, HELLP, and placental abruptions. Feeding our placenta is a very important job. When these problems creep up, often in the mid to late third trimester, women frequently must be medically induced which in turn leads to higher risk of problems for mom and baby including but definitely not limited to: cesarean section, premature birth, and breastfeeding problems.
I'd imagine throwing in some parsley and other healthy herbs for pregnancy such as dandelion, nettles, red raspberry leafs, would be fantastic, but I need to find more information on how to's and such...any thoughts my herbal friends? I know some of those could be considered diuretic in certain amounts and forms...
Any other tips? Please share in the comments below!
The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet
The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth book and my specific class (2006)
Birth Arts International Doula Training (2009)
Midwifery Today Conference session on Nutrition with Elizabeth Davis (2010)
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susan Weed
The Pregnancy Book, by William Sears, MD, Martha Sears, RN, and Linda Holt, MD