Did you know that some women go for years with pain and other complications from their c-section scars, when some simple exercises make a big difference?
Isa Herrera wishes that wishes that all mothers had great care after their c-sections. She is a physical therapist and owner of Renew Physical Therapy in New York, where she specializes in caring for women’s gynecologic pain. She is author of Ending Female Pain: A Woman’s Manual.
Isa spoke with Tanya Lieberman about how mothers can care for their c-section scars, reduce pain, and increase mobility. They discussed scar massage and yoga poses, and other ways to help us recover.
We’ve been hearing about it, and while we know it’s not for everyone, thought it would be interesting to learn more. So we asked Jodi Selander, founder of Placenta Benefits to answer some questions.
Jodi trains and certifies specialists who encapsulate placentas for consumption, based on a method she developed. She is active in research on the placentophagy (placenta consumption) research team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and has presented her findings at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. Jodi has also written and published several articles on the use of placenta for postpartum recovery.
Why do some mothers choose to consume their placentas?
We usually discuss the three main benefits of placenta capsules that most mothers report, which are an increased milk supply, a noticeable increase in energy levels, as well as a general sense of feeling “good” or “normal.” Placenta is used for stress relief, and most mothers do feel that it helps with their mood. They often call them their “happy pills”.
What are some different ways in which a placenta can be prepared?
The placenta can be prepared in many different ways. I subscribe to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine – placenta have been used for centuries in this manner, and I didn’t feel like I should mess with their system, since it is one of their most powerful medicines when prepared that way. This way also gives the capsules longevity; they can be frozen and kept for a long time, and definitely taken over the first several weeks postpartum, the time when many women struggle with the Baby Blues. However, some women just cut pieces out to put in smoothies or freeze; this does decrease the time in which it can be taken to the first 3 days after birth, to the first week or so. It can also be used as any other meat in a food dish – placenta spaghetti and the like. I’m just happy when a mother chooses to utilize the placenta, instead of throwing it in the trash! But the easiest way for me to take the placenta was in a capsule.
PBi-trained and Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialists are schooled in the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of preparation, which involves steaming the placenta prior to dehydration, eliminating any concerns over bacteria living on the placenta and being transferred to the capsules. Additionally, in TCM, cooked foods work differently in the body than raw foods, and placenta is meant to have warming properties (i.e., cooked).
What are some traditions and beliefs from different cultures regarding the placenta?
There are so many wonderful traditions of honoring the placenta! In some cultures, the placenta is considered the spiritual twin of the baby, and is treated as such. Most cultural traditions involve burial or some sort of honorary memorial for it. I have written several articles on this topic – you can read one here.
Nearly all other mammals eat their placentas after birth. Is it believed that humans once did, too?
That is the belief, but we have been unable to find it in written records. One of my research colleagues at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) performed a comprehensive survey of the anthropological literature related to cultural beliefs, rituals, and the placenta, and was unable to find any cultural-wide practices of human maternal placentophagy (where the mother consumes the placenta). Another researcher at UNLV has come up with an interesting theory as to why humans may have stopped eating placenta, and his paper will be published next year. So there is a lot of recent interest in this topic. Now, placenta have been used for centuries for a variety of treatments, but these are often related to male issues, interestingly enough; vitality, fertility, and the like. It has also been used in other cultures as a remedy for the baby or father. But it seems that women were giving up the placenta for use by others, not for herself. So the practice of mothers consuming it for postpartum is a recent phenomenon – we started seeing references to it in the 1970′s.
If a mother wants to consume her placenta in capsule form, where can she find someone who can encapsulate it for her?
I have trained many wonderful women in the art of placenta encapsulation through the Placenta Benefits Placenta Encapsulation Training Course. These Placenta Encapsulation Specialists reside all across the United States and Canada, and we also have Specialists in the UK, South Korea, and Australia. You can find one in your area here.
If a mother doesn’t want to consume her placenta, what are some other ways of honoring it?
If she births in a hospital, the first step is to ask to take it home! The more that hospitals get this request, the more likely they are to adapt mother- and placenta-friendly policies. Many couples bury the placenta and plant a special tree or shrub over it. If you don’t live in an area that would accommodate that, the placenta can still be lovingly prepared and dried (even in an oven). Then it can be ground, and the granules can be scattered in an area that is special and sacred to you.
After hearing this story on National Public Radio about listening to music while in labor, we asked you on our Facebook page if you had a labor playlist. Here’s what you told us.
Music to give you an extra “push:”
Some of you provided your own accompaniment!
And then some of you said you didn’t want music (“I liked it quiet”), or had no time for it (“I almost had him in the car!”).
We’re very pleased to share an interview with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.d, IBCLC, FAPA on her research on breastfeeding and sleep. Kathleen is the author of Breastfeeding Made Simple and numerous other publications. She specializes in synthesizing current research on breastfeeding, trauma, and health psychology.
The answers below are based on Kathleen’s findings on mother-infant sleep from a survey of over 6,000 moms. Kathleen is conducting a webinar on the topic of mother-infant sleep on January 17th called Sense & Sensibility in Mother-Infant Sleep: Beyond the Rhetoric, What Does the Science Really Say about Safe Infant Sleep?
In your survey of over 6,000 mothers, what did you find about the amount of sleep mothers are getting who are exclusively breastfeeding, breast and formula feeding, and exclusively formula feeding?
The breastfeeding mothers were reporting significantly more sleep than even mixed-feeding mothers. There was no significant difference between the mixed- and formula-feeding mothers. It wasn’t a huge difference in terms of time (maybe 15 minutes), but it seemed to be enough that breastfeeding mothers were reporting more daily energy, better physical health, etc. than the other two groups. But they were still tired–just a bit less. The full article is available here.
How can that be, if breastfed babies wake for feedings more frequently than formula feeding babies? And what about the quality of breastfeeding mothers’ sleep?
We looked at a couple of sleep parameters, such as how many minutes it took for mothers to get to sleep. Breastfeeding mothers get to sleep faster. Longer time to get to sleep is a major risk factor for depression. We also looked at mothers’ reported hours of sleep: also better. To answer your question, I think breastfeeding mothers become more efficient at sleep, which helps them cope during the day.
What would you say to the advice that breastfeeding mothers avoid nursing at night in order to reduce their risk of depression?
There can be times when a mom needs to do this. I’ve had mothers I’ve worked with who have been right on the edge and really needed to get some sleep. My concern is when mothers are universally told to do this. I don’t think that the evidence supports that. In fact, it suggests just the opposite: that it would be making things worse for her, not better. And many mothers I’ve spoken with about this said that they’ve been getting pressured to wean. So if a mother is in this situation, I’d urge her to get some support from one or two key people who can help stand against this advice. Look at the research for yourself and enlist your partner, mother, good friend, or whoever supports you to help you with this.
What did you learn about where mothers and babies sleep?
That was also very interesting. According to a lot of previous research, white folks don’t sleep with their babies. But guess what we found? At least 60% sleep with their babies at least part of the night. The question you have to ask is “where does your baby end the night”? That paper is also online if you’d like to see it.
You found that over half of the mothers surveyed are breastfeeding their babies at night in places other than the bed, such as chairs, recliners and couches, and that over 40% of these mothers say that they fall asleep during these feedings, Why do you think mothers are choosing these locations, and why is falling asleep in these places a cause for concern?
Unfortunately, a lot of mothers have heard the “never bedshare” message from just about everyone. So some will really try to not bedshare. That means they are out in the middle of the night on the couch. They are really fighting biology here and have a good chance of falling asleep. The concern is that this greatly increases the chance of accidental infant death. In one study, it was 67 times more likely if baby was sleeping with anyone on a couch, recliner, or other place where they are feeding their babies in the middle of the night. We also found that the highly educated and higher income mothers were the ones most likely to report that they had fallen asleep in these unsafe places. 44% of the mothers who fed their babies someplace besides bed said that they had fallen asleep while doing it. That’s 25% of the total sample. I’d also like to mention that the most current AAP statement on bedsharing says that mothers (and others) must avoid sleeping with their babies on those surfaces. My objection to the “never bedshare” message is that mothers who are trying to avoid it are engaging in a far more dangerous behavior–and that is genuinely frightening.
We’re very pleased to share this podcast interview with Dr. Suzanne Colson, pioneering researcher known for her work developing the concept of Biological Nurturing.
She is the author of An Introduction to Biological Nurturing and the DVD Biological Nurturing: Laid-Back Breastfeeding for Mothers.
Suzanne talked with Tanya Lieberman about the concept of Biological Nurturing, the primitive neonatal reflexes she has identified, why babies sometimes fight or “box” the breast when feeding in traditionally-taught breastfeeding holds, and why she believes babies are “front feeders” and not “dorsal feeders.”
One note: This interview was recorded in the busy hallway at a breastfeeding conference, and as a result the audio is not up to our usual standard. We hope you enjoy it anyway!
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