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The Bumpdate

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

The Weekly Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Families and Friends

July 19

Happy Tuesday friends! Today is the start of Black Maternal Mental Health week and the BMMH 2022 summit right here in Houston! The theme of this year's conference is "Collective Efforts for Greater Community Impact and Change". After two decades of working in the field of reproductive health, I am thrilled to attend this event featuring some of the country's most respected experts on maternal mental health.

Our Whole Heart Collective model is based on this exact theme. Collective efforts from providers, practitioners and our community of parents to build strong families who feel heard, respected and supported. These are the key components in providing quality care for all birthing people, but we must focus efforts on specifically Black birthing bodies. Black maternal mortality rates are more than double that of their white peers. Birth workers, community health and mental health experts will all gather this week to share the work we've done this past year and create a plan moving forward. It's time for action and we are here for it.

It's a Party!

A surprise message from our resident IBCLC, Leah Jolly!

"Hi HOH families! Did you know the first week of August is world breastfeeding week? My team and I would like to celebrate you and your lactation journey. Whether you fed your baby one drop of colostrum or breast/chest fed for a whole year, we want to celebrate you!! Drop by Aug 6 from 2-4 pm. We will have raffles, goodie bags, snacks, lactation resources and this special time to shine a light on your lactation journey."

This event is free and open to Heart of Houston clients past and present and all Whole Heart Collective members. AND, drum roll please, .........................this will take place at our new location! Get a sneak peek at our new space while you enjoy the festivities. We can't wait to show you around!!!

Placenta 101

Before I became a doula I managed laboratories that specialized in reproductive health. I never worked in pathology but I trained folks on the proper handling of human tissue samples. So imagine my surprise when I found out that folks were consuming their placenta after birth. Ya'll, that's a biohazard! Why would you eat that?! Lucky for me I met doula superstar Kathleen Wilson and she explained the "benefits" to me. Many folks claim to have an increased milk production, improvement in mood fluctuation, more energy and even less postpartum bleeding. Yeah, no. That sounds a little too good to be true. I still wasn't convinced. So I asked my medical librarian sister to pull every piece of research she could find for me and I devoured it all, figuratively of course.

Placenta encapsulation (PE) is when the placenta is dehydrated, ground and put into capsules for consumption. Truthfully, back in 2010 I had a hard time finding any current research on human consumption of the placenta, often referred to as placentophagy. There was plenty of research on mammals placentophagy but not much on humans. In fact, humans and horses are the only land mammals that do not eat their placentas after birth. For all other mammals, the consumption of the placenta, amniotic sac and amniotic fluid plays a vital role in postpartum recovery by nourishing the birthing animal and setting the milk production systems in motion and even acting as a natural pain reliever. Another thing I frequently heard was that it was considered common in Traditional Chinese Medicine . My research actually found that it was, of course, the male elders that often consumed the prepared placenta for it's health benefits and not so much the birthing person.

After months of reading everything I could get my hands on, I still wasn't convinced. It was actually the husband of doula client that convinced me to stop being so skeptical about it. He swore that his wife's second postpartum experience was worlds away from their first. This time she began taking her placenta pills just days after birth and they were positive it was the reason she was able to enjoy her new baby.

I figured even if it was a placebo effect, it was a great placebo effect to have.

In recent years UNLV published a double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study on placentophagy that showed, "Average iron concentrations were considerably higher in encapsulated placenta (0.664 mg/g) compared to the encapsulated beef placebo (0.093 mg/g) but provided only 24% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron among lactating women based on the study's maximum daily intake."So yeah, organ meat is high in iron and the placenta is an organ. Obviously you'll need more than a placenta pill to fulfill your daily iron intake but hey, there it is in black and white.

Convinced yet? That's okay if not. I asked some of our HOH parents who chose to have their placenta encapsulated to share their thoughts. Whitley said, "The day I received my pills I went from a sobbing mess of postpartum hormones to slowly feeling like myself hormonally again. My husband thought I was really “losing it” and after I started taking the pills, he noticed a major shift and was no longer as worried about me." Cliodhna (pronounced Clee-na) Griffin of Houston Placenta Services says that she process anywhere from 20-40 placentas a month in her dedicated commercial kitchen. She asks, "Is it worth the chance to find out if it doesn’t help? Postpartum is hard and we already put ourselves last. This is like a little insurance policy, sometimes this is the only way to ensure that we put ourselves first and not the back burner."

One thing to consider before you decide if PE is right for you is the debate between the lactation world and the PE world. Many lactation consultants fear that ingesting the placenta can increase the amount of progesterone in the birthing persons system causing a delay in milk production. As a healthcare provider, HOH mom Dani wanted to be sure she had all the information before she made her decision. " After doing my research, I did not find tangible evidence that PE decreases milk supply. However, I decided that there was a plausible mechanism for placenta capsules to decrease milk supply. So I decided that I would still encapsulate my placenta, but wait 3-4 weeks postpartum before taking it, in order to give myself a few weeks to establish breastfeeding."

Print by Eli Gaffney

Despite my initial skepticism, I encapsulated over two hundred placentas while doing doula work and even had my own encapsulated. I figure that like everything else in parenting, do what works for you and your family. Whatever you decide to do with your placenta we support you! Our friend Joanna Zepeda also offers multiple ways to preserve your child's placenta including tinctures and salves. One of my favorite ways to preserve it is to have a one of kind placenta print made by Houston artist Eli Gaffney of Wild is My Favorite Color.

For more information about placenta encapsulation check out the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts website or ask me, I can obviously talk about this all day.

This Week's Events

Please note that this week Thursday group will also be online. Leah Jolly will lead our Feeding Clinic

Upcoming Events

  • End of Summer HOH Baby Pool Party: Save the date! We'll have a HOH pool day Friday July 29th from 10-1pm at Jessica's place. Hang out before or after morning nap! More details in the members area.

  • Pregnancy Circle- Ask The Experts! July 31st 2-5pm In Person, Come get to know your HOH village. Newly postpartum parents will host expectant couples for a laid back Q&A session. Ask all your burning questions and find out what life with a newborn REALLY looks like. Please register HERE

Ongoing Events

That's all for now! Have a great week everyone.

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