Rosa Doherty

Rabbi, can I eat a pill made from my placenta?

I had my first child during lockdown – this time around has been a very different experience


Young woman with abortion pill and glass of water indoors, closeup

August 04, 2022 10:19

Random question…” I text a friendly rabbi a few months into my second pregnancy. “Would taking pills made out of your own placenta be considered kosher?”

The response comes in the form of a voice note: “This sounds to me like some mad money-making scam,” he replies.

“If you’re asking on a halachic basis all pills swallowed whole are kosher. If you’re asking on an advisory basis, I’d say this sounds like utter nonsense and I wouldn’t bother with it.”

That was me told. Get off wellness blogs that promote vagina scented candles and spend more time reading about practical ways you can help your toddler adjust to the arrival of a new member of the family.

Having survived my first pregnancy and birth during the peak of the pandemic it would be fair to say my attitude was more relaxed this time around.

Which is probably why I found myself toying with the idea of asking a busy NHS team of consultants and midwives to box up my placenta in a freezer bag for it to be turned into pills that promised the world (more energy, no post-partum depression, great skin and hair) with no scientific evidence. “You don’t seriously want to do that?” my husband would ask me each time I brought it up.

Turns out no matter how much I was taken in by the fact that celebrities like Coleen Rooney were fans of placenta encapsulation, I had enough sense to decide against it.

That and the fact there was something too embarrassing about asking hard-working NHS staff to entertain my whim during the worst staffing crisis in history.

Perhaps I would have felt more emboldened had I instead been giving birth in the Portland Hospital and tucking into my post-delivery dinner using silver cutlery.

However, my post-baby meal was a slightly less glamorous sushi takeaway shovelled down behind a blue curtain on a postnatal ward with scores of other women comforting their crying babies, during the hottest summer on record.

But the end result was the same. A blessing of a new life and this time it was a beautiful baby girl.

“One of each, well done,” I noticed people would congratulate me throughout my pregnancy as if I had any control over it, or that it is somehow better to have a girl and a boy than to have two of the same.

After nine long months, I was just happy that she was here safely and that my family were going to be able to meet her, not on the steps of my front door at a distance but in our home. The first few days have already been significantly different to the first time.

There was something nice about the pandemic bubble that allowed us to spend time uninterrupted as a new family.

But it is only now that I reliase how little support we had, how difficult it was and how wonderful it has been to have people you love share in the joy of a new arrival and help with cups of tea.

I’ve loved the simple pleasure of being able to walk to a café with my newborn, sit down and order a coffee knowing what it was like without it.

I’ve found having our nursery open for my son to attend while we get our feet under the table a lifeline and can’t imagine how hard it must have been for parents without it.

If having my first baby in the middle of the pandemic taught me anything, it is the importance of being able to adapt.

I had spent the early months of the pandemic, pre-vaccines, terrified of getting an illness that could seriously harm me and my baby.

But this time, when I got Covid at 35 weeks and had to be admitted to hospital for two days, thanks to the reassurance of vaccines, I remained remarkably calm.

Having my second baby has cemented that there is nothing better than human contact, family, friends and celebrating a new life and the start of their journey.

August 04, 2022 10:19

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