Monthly Archives

November 2011

Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

– Text by Leah – Photos by Mark

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta PhotographersSo I decided to encapsulate my placenta. Or, rather, I decided to hire someone to come over to my house and encapsulate it for me (thanks, Melanie!). Honestly, if I think about it too much it still grosses me out. *But* I’m happy to report that the actual taking of the placenta pills is not as gross as I feared. So why exactly am I swallowing my placenta? There are a list of supposed benefits from consuming one’s placenta after birth – from helping reduce postpartum bleeding, to increasing milk supply and a host of other things. There aren’t any big studies to back up these claims, but there are tons of anecdotal accounts from other women, so I figured I’d give it a shot… at the very least, it wouldn’t hurt me. And it could possibly really help with my postpartum recovery. The main reason I wanted to take placenta pills was to help with the huge hormonal decrease that follows birth. Like I said, there aren’t many studies yet on placentophagy, but the few small studies available are promising and show benefits such as decrease in maternal fatigue and postpartum depression. The placenta is super rich in nutrients, and contains a stress-fighting chemical know as corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH:

During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes a lot of CRH. The rise is so dramatic that CRH levels in the maternal bloodstream increase threefold. “We can only speculate,” says George Chrousos, the endocrinologist who led the NIH study, “but we think it helps women go through the stress of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.” But what happens after birth, when the placenta is gone? Chrousos and his colleagues monitored CRH levels in 17 women from the last trimester to a year after they gave birth. All the women had low levels of CRH – as low as seen in some forms of depression – in the six weeks following birth. The seven women with the lowest levels felt depressed. Chrousos suspects that CRH levels are temporarily low in new mothers because CRH from the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates normal production of the hormone. During pregnancy, when CRH levels are high in the bloodstream, the hypothalamus releases less CRH. After birth, however, when this supplementary source of CRH is gone, it takes a while for the hypothalamus to get the signal that it needs to start making more CRH.

The theory is that by ingesting the placenta after birth, it helps the mother get over the “hump” until her brain starts producing CRH again, thereby warding off the baby blues or post-partum depression. And that’s primarily why I’ve chosen to eat my placenta. (yuck, it still grosses me out to say that!).

I’m only 2 weeks and 6 days postpartum now, but I can tell you that my milk supply is off the charts. BabyRoX is getting plenty of it and gaining weight like it’s his job. There have been two days I didn’t take my pills in the morning like usual, and on those days I felt way more tired and emotionally raw – you know, the kind of crazy everything-is-gonna-make-me-cry feeling…and then I took the pills, and I felt substantially more energetic and emotionally stable. Was this due to the powers of the placenta? Maybe, maybe not. But even if it’s just a placebo effect, I’m all for it. I like feeling great and I’m glad I decided to encapsulate my placenta. And the little purple pills in my fridge aren’t that gross. I just try not to think about it too much. Mark, on the other hand, photographed the whole process… for your viewing pleasure, of course!

(It gets pretty graphic and bloody – which is why we pushed the photos further down than usual on the page.)

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

– Text by Mark

We hired Melanie Nasmyth to do the placenta encapsulation. You can email her at: melnasmyth@gmail.com if you’re interested in finding out more about her services – she’s also a DONA certified labor doula.

To ‘keep’ the placenta – we placed it in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge right after the birth. Two days later we had Melanie come over to turn the placenta into pills.

Of course – the first step whenever you’re cooking human parts – is to prepare the meat.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

There’s an outer lining/sac that you have to remove.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Once the placenta was cleaned – Melanie put it in the steamer and then into a pot of water to cook the thing.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Oh yeah – if you put a lemon slice into the pot – it helps to keep it from really smelling bad as the placenta cooks.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

It cooks faster if you poke a few holes into the placenta meat.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Hey look. Cord.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And then after 20 minutes or so – you have cooked placenta!

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Now you cut it up into slices.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Get your Food Dehydrator ready – because we’re making placenta jerky.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

… six hours later…. you take all of that placenta jerky and eat it.

No – just kidding don’t do that! You put it into a coffee grinder (one that you will NEVER USE AGAIN) – and grind that placenta meat into a fine powder.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And then you grab your ‘pill-making’ set and get to work.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

And now you have 64 pills (or more).

It’s a relatively easy process once you know what you’re doing and once you have all of the tools/appliances you need. Melanie brought a lot of her own supplies with her – stuff like a disposable cutting board, the knives, the food dehydrator, the coffee grinder, etc… think of all of the ‘dishes’ that you end up using when you cook a meal – now think about how you might NOT want to use any of that stuff EVER AGAIN.

It was totally worth it for us to hire Melanie and have her do everything, with her own supplies. Now – if you’re a partner/spouse that thinks this might be a crazy/gross thing for your wife to do – the way I see it is – F*ck the weirdness of the whole thing. If it’s going to keep my wife from getting post-partum depression or just help her from feeling sad/not feeling well, then I’m all for it. Why wouldn’t I be for something like that?

And now – it’s time for a bath and then a nap.

Placenta Encapsulation | Photos | Process | How To | LeahAndMark.com | Atlanta Photographers

Warhol Screen Test | High Museum of Art

– Text & Video by +Jo
– Photos by Alumni Intern Andre

This is the time of the year that makes me miss my family terribly. Miss the traditions we had when I was young. Miss the conversations, laughter and communal meals filled with love. I created a new family in Savannah with all my friends and we would gather to celebrate when we couldn’t celebrate with our normal families. I moved to Atlanta less than a year ago. My hodge-podged family is now scattered about the U.S. I was fearful this Thanksgiving was going to be a sad one.  I yearn to have a full day of memories cultivated every year.

High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com

Then Mark asked if I wanted to work Family Day at the High Museum. I jumped at the opportunity simply because it was the High. Then the details came in – “It’s the day after Thanksgiving.” Ok – not a problem. I had no problem going out to a gorgeous museum filled with amazing art. I’ll take that challenge any day. “You will be filming people.” Uh… Sure? I can do that. Don’t get me wrong, I have a nice basic understanding of videography. I should after all the stage and film work I’ve done. “We’re recreating Warhol’s Screen Tests.” OH! Now, I’m down for that.

Simply, between the years of 1964 -1966 Andy Warhol shot short clips of friends, artist and celebrities of the time. There was an evolution to what the people were doing in the little movies. Initially they would just stand or sit, not doing anything. Then he allowed them to move and do basic things like brush their teeth, drink a soda, etc. {My personal favorite is of Dali. It really captured who he was in the simplest of fashion.} Warhol would take the video, project an enlarged version onto white walls at a slower frame rate. There are many essaies on what his purpose was behind these “Screen Tests.” My interpretation is: Warhol was showing the beauty in common movements. There’s artistry in everyday life.

[videogallery id=”HighMuseum”]

Family day was filled with wonderful activities for children young and old to enjoy. There were so many  stations I couldn’t keep up with them all. You could draw, paint, build mobiles, listen to live music, dance, and on and on. A constant crowd streamed through all day and people really loved the opportunity to jump in front of the camera to be themselves. OR very silly. The kids especially. As soon as one was brave enough to try it, there would be a mini stampede of others joining. It’s funny. Adults were so nervous, self-conscious and shy. But the children opened up at the smallest amount of direction. And they had an entire bucket filled with props from the people at the High to inspire them. Sometimes, mom or dad would join in on the fun with their little ones. I think these were my favorite. Because I love the interactions between parent and child in this particular situation. The parent could let go of the adult world for 30 seconds and find confidence in their daughter or son. In return the child felt more confident to be in front of the camera because mom or dad were right there with them. Memories were made right in front of me.

How amazing is that?

High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com
High Museum of Art Atlanta | Family Day | Thanksgiving | Warhol Screen Tests Video | LeahAndMark.com

For me, Thanksgiving was always about the memories. My family never had to ask what we were thankful for. We all knew – because we were together. This day was filled, nonstop, with these moments. The best part? I filmed it. Each person and family have a little memory captured forever. They can go back, watch it again and enjoy the moments created together. I felt really honored to be an invisible part of their day. A little piece of the memory.

Though I’m hundreds of miles away from my family – Family Day at the High made Thanksgiving a wonderful holiday this year.

 Click Here to View the Entire Photo Gallery