Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Pregnancy & Postpartum

I am happy to announce that I will speaking at the Bay Area Natural Birth Meet UP on April 23, Thursday at 6:30pm.

Come and learn from the Bay Area’s premier Acu-Doula, Yume Takeuchi, MS, L.Ac! Yume is a licensed acupuncturist and doula, and the owner of Acu-Doula: Acupuncture & Birth Services in Berkeley.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been used for thousands of years to support women during pregnancy and help them recover after birth. These ancient modalities contain wisdom that can help the body prepare for labor, as well as treat common challenges like:

Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Pain & Recovery
Insufficient Lactation
Breech Presentation

This meetup should be really informative and interesting. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions. If you don’t know much about acupuncture, this is a great intro to what it is and how it works!

placenta pills photo

Eating Your Placenta: Not the Latest Celebrity Fad

Eating one’s placenta has been getting more and more buzz lately. I recently read an interview with actress January Jones (of hit TV show, “Mad Men”) where she commented that as a part of her postpartum recovery she had her placenta prepared for ingestion. The actress says she was able to quickly get back to work after the birth of her son with the help of “…eating well, with vitamins and teas, and with placenta capsulation [sic]” Kim Kardashian played around with the idea on her reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” before the birth of her daughter. This recent exposure gives one the feeling that eating the placenta and preparing it in to capsules, also known as placenta encapsulation, no longer is limited to a small minority of women and is becoming increasingly popular.

As a licensed acupuncturist, I have been aware of the medicinal use of the placenta since taking ‘Herbal Medicine 101’ during my graduate studies. It is not a fad or the latest celebrity trend but a powerful herb that is an essential part of Chinese herbal medicine. Its Chinese name is Zi He Che (translated as “purple river vehicle”) and was officially classified in the Compendium of Materia Medica in the early 1500’s. It is included in the category of “Herbs that Tonify Yang” and can be found in herbal pharmacies in the form of dried pig, goat or cow placenta. The properties of the placenta are sweet, salty and warm. It affects the meridians (channels of energy) of the liver, lung and kidney. Zi He Che increases energy or Qi in the body and is the dominant ingredient in a number of classic restorative formulas. The most classic and common use of Zi He Che is its ability to increase insufficient lactation. These qualities make the placenta a potent herb for nourishing and replenishing the body in the postpartum period.

Like January Jones, people can now hire professionals to prepare the placenta for encapsulation. The preparation process is in accordance with Chinese medicine theory that believes raw foods are generally too cold for consumption by new mothers who have just experienced childbirth. The exhaustion of labor and loss of blood can leave the woman depleted and generally cold in her constitution. The placenta is best prepared by steaming it and warming-herbs, such as ginger, are added. The final product is warming, nourishing and replenishing for the postpartum woman.

Although placenta encapsulation is getting more exposure it will still take time for its integration in to mainstream American culture. In a later interview, Ms. Jones regrets having mentioned the placenta capsules and exposing this part of her recovery process to the world. The actress received a significant amount of flack for her statement and was even given the title ‘Mad Mom’ when the news broke. After thinking about it and getting negative reactions from her family, Kim Kardashian decides against the practice.

In a poll conducted by Parent magazine online, 87% of readers voted they would NOT eat their placenta (10% would consider eating it, 3% already had). The world is not quite ready to accept the practice of eating one’s placenta but if the saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is true…then we are headed in the right direction. The consumption of the placenta is not a new thing. The more we understand where these trends come from the more likely they will stop being trends and start becoming acceptable and integral forms of self-healing and the postpartum recovery process.