How can eating your placenta help you to avoid postpartum depression? Well, there are strong co-relations between iron deficiency, fatigue and postpartum depression. Placentas are rich in iron, and rich in hormones that regulate sleep and mood.
Iron Levels in Pregnancy and Birth
During pregnancy the body requires 1000 mg of total body iron. This amount is very difficult to get through regular diet. So, if women haven’t been, or didn’t supplement with iron, it’s likely that they were at risk of being anemic before the birth of their baby.
This risk would then increase at the birth of their baby. During any normal birth, there is some blood loss, as well as the loss of the blood and iron rich placenta and umbilical cord. If there is haemorrhage, C-section, or multiple births, it’s not uncommon for women to loose in excess of 1 Litre of blood. All of this adds up to increased risk of anemia.
Anemia, Fatigue and Motherhood
Anemia has a big impact on a mothers mood and ability to function. When you don’t have enough iron in your blood, your brain doesn’t work as well. Studies have shown cognitive skills, short term memory, aerobic fitness, stamina and work efficiency are all negatively affected by low iron levels. Anemia has also been shown to affect a mothers mood.
Women low in iron were more likely to report increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Fatigue is another factor. Studies have shown that women who report being extremely fatigued in the first few weeks following their births are much more likely to develop postpartum depression. Being tired is a normal part of having a new baby. In fact, it’s likely that feeling tired is helpful because it insures that new moms get the rest they need and that the new babies get the bonding time that they need.
However, extreme fatigue, the kind that doesn’t start to ease off after the first two weeks, can be a red flag that postpartum depression is setting in. It’s a good idea to do a check when your baby is 2 weeks old. Check in with your mood and levels of tiredness. If you’re feeling overwhelmingly tired or ‘down’, it might be time to seek some help.
How your Placenta can Help Prevent Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is something that doctors and scientists are just starting to understand. We know that in most cases fatigue, iron deficiency, and hormone imbalance all play a part in postpartum depression. That is why I want you to Eat Your Placenta (as pills, tincture, smoothie, or stock!).
Placentas have been shown to be up to 33.4% iron by weight!
Given that low iron levels in postpartum moms can lead to feelings of fatigue and depression, it makes sense that consuming your iron rich placenta can help new moms to avoid these postpartum conditions.
John L. Beard, et. al.; Journal of Nutrition 135: 267–272, 2005.
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Lisa M. Bodnar, et. al.; American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2005) 193, 36–44