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Almond milk, frozen fruit, matcha powder, ground linseed – and placenta.
Virginia Maddock Says These Are Five Common Hair Ingredients “new mom smoothie”†
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The ‘placenta specialist’ from Sydney is one of many certified afterbirth consultants who – at the request of the mother – transform the placenta into edible items or souvenirs.
From artwork and dream catchers to pills, infused vodka, smoothies, and even jerky, Virginia claims there are countless benefits to repurposing or ingesting the placenta.
“Some mothers take in a lot more energy [from consuming the placenta]almost as if they had an espresso,” Virginia tells 7Life.
“It can also help improve your mood and ward off postpartum blues and balance hormones.”
The mother of two, who is a qualified nutritionist, was introduced to the idea of ”placenta encapsulation” after taking her own “placenta pills”.
After the home birth of her second child, her placenta was collected by her midwife and transformed into ‘pills’.
Virginia had braced herself for exhaustion as she had to care for a newborn and a toddler.
But she felt just the opposite – and attributes her positive experience to consuming her placenta.
Virginia talked about her increased energy and wanted to pass this experience on to other new mothers.
So she trained in placenta encapsulation and took courses in food safety and blood-borne pathogens.
Now licensed by an agency called Placenta Services Australia, Virginia offers a variety of services, her most popular of which is “raw placenta encapsulation.”
After her client gives birth, Virginia retrieves the fetal organ and takes it to her home.
She first drains the blood and cuts off the excess.
She then gently presses the organ and umbilical cord onto a piece of paper, creating an imprint described as a “placenta tree.”
She then separates the umbilical cord from the placenta and forms a shape at the request of the client, such as “a heart, spiral or even the first letter of the baby’s name”.
The cord is then placed in a dehydrator.
The placenta is cut into pieces and placed next to the cord to dry out.
After 20 hours, the dehydrated organ is then placed in a blender and the resulting powder is poured into about 100-200 capsules ready for the mother.
Another way to encapsulate the placenta is to steam the organ in ginger and fresh lemon before the dehydration process.
Virginia says that when reality TV star Kim Kardashian promoted the benefits she experienced from taking placenta pills after the birth of her second child, Saint, her services skyrocketed.
“I definitely saw a huge boost in business after that,” she says.
Cream, dreamcatcher, tincture
Virginia also offers souvenirs such as turning the umbilical cord into a dreamcatcher.
She can also take a small amount of a woman’s placenta and put it in a large bottle of alcohol (tincture), which extends the life of consumption.
She is also equipped to make creams and smoothies and has even received a special request from a new dad – “placenta jerky”.
“I actually had a father who asked me to make a piece of jerky out of the placenta,” she says.
“He said he washed it down with a beer afterwards.”
While Virginia’s services are varied, she has yet to cook or bake a placenta for a client.
From placenta lasagnas (“plasagnas”), placenta sausage rolls or even a placenta steak, Virginia was featured in the podcast Zero waste baby where they explore these possibilities.
Virginia has transformed more than 400 placentas for customers and is aware of some of the stigmas surrounding organ consumption.
But she says she adheres to strict Australian food safety standards to ensure the best product.
Medical expert speaking
Medical experts say placenta consumption has happened over time, but it’s not without risk.
“Women have ingested placentas in various forms for centuries,” says Dr Sarah Tedjasukmana of Sydney Perinatal Doctors.
Claimed benefits include physical, such as replenishing iron levels, and psychological, such as reducing the risk of postpartum depression.
†My advice would be not to risk it.†
“Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence of benefit. Conversely, there are indications of risk.
“The encapsulation process is unregulated and mothers are at risk of bacterial or viral infection, along with problems such as too much hormone concentrated in the placental tissue.
“These can also cause problems for the baby if he is breastfed.
“My advice would be not to risk it.”
Virginia offers holistic health, doula and placenta services at Natural Beginning.
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