Welcoming a new child into this world can be as exhilarating as it is life changing.
But the excitement that surrounds baby's arrival can also leave a new mother feeling spiritual and emotionally drained, according to Townsend-area resident Bridget DiLuzio.
"Traditionally, women get a lot of support when they're pregnant, but after they have the baby, mom often ends up feeling alone," the 38-year-old mother of six said. "A lot of times, those new mothers need to feel supported and just want to be heard."
DiLuzio is hoping to fill the needs of those new mothers as Delaware's only certified Art of Sacred Postpartum Mother Roaster.
Inspired by the book "Sacred Pregnancy" by Anni Daulter, the relatively new Art of Sacred Postpartum movement offers some non-traditional methods for pampering and rejuvenating new mothers, including fashioning their placentas into herbal pills, commemorative keepsakes and topical ointments.
"Some people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them what I do, or they ask if I'm part of some worldwide cult," she said. "But we're actually the only species that doesn't automatically consume our placentas immediately after birth."
While most, but not all mammals, are known to eat the placenta, there is little record of it among human mothers.
But the practice, called placentophagy is becoming more and more popular, among white, American, middle class and college educated women, according to a study published in the journal Ecology, Food and Nutrition earlier this year.
The health implications are largely unknown, but proponents claim its benefits include a decreased risk of postpartum hemorrhaging, increased lactation, increased iron levels, enhanced protection from infection and better mood.
Methods of consumption vary and preparation methods are largely unregulated, but DiLuzio says she has received a food handlers license and bloodborn pathogens certification to help put mothers at ease.
"Typically, the placenta is dried out and ground up before being encapsulated, sometimes with a mix of herbs that also are beneficial to the mother," she said.
While placentophagy represents a large portion of the Mother Roaster menu, DiLuzio said it is only one aspect of the movement.
Other services include Bengkung belly binding, in which thin cloth is wrapped around a women's abdomen to "hold, compress and move a woman's organs back where they're supposed to be," and robozo relaxation techniques in which warmed sacks of flax seed are compressed against a woman's stomach, back and limbs.
"The 'roasting' in Mother Roasting refers to various warming techniques like robozo and the use of certain salves," DiLuzio said. "Those methods can be very relaxing and therapeutic for a new mother, who had been carrying around this tiny person that was generating whole lot of heat for the past nine months."
Page 2 of 2 - DiLuzio also provides various ceremonial services, such as milk and honey honoring and a floral and milk bath meant to celebrate the closing of the birth process.
"The whole idea behind Mother Roasting is for women to sit with other women and help them through the birth journey," she said. "It's a way to mother a new mother, which is a basic part of cultures throughout the world. It's only in the West that we've moved away from that, so my work is to restore that practice and empower and support women in the process."
To learn more about the Art of Sacred Postpartum or the eight-week Sacred Pregnancy classes that DiLuzio will soon begin teaching at Cecil College in North East, Md., visit her website at www.sacred-blessing.net.