Placenta Encapsulation and Ingestion

So this one’s not for the faint at heart…

In an effort to be frugal, I asked for the help of my mother and my husband to encapsulate my placenta after birth. My husband is used to this home birth stuff from me so he was cool and basically said, “How much is this going to cost me”. On the other hand, my mother was not at all prepared for this request. We do not even discuss the fact that my next child who is due in the beginning of October will be born at home. I called her the other day to ask for extra supplies like old towels and a tarp that she doesn’t use anymore and may feel like donating to help out my home birth (she’s flying out for a visit next week from over 2,000 miles away) and I swear I could hear her clenching her teeth over the phone.

Yes, I said it…PLACENTA ENCAPSULATION. Really though, I thought I’d save a few bucks (which my husband was happy about) and attempt to do it myself with a little assistance instead of paying someone do it for me which can cost about $200.  Seemed simple enough to me…my mom will fly in from Chicago at the first signs of real labor (she does NOT want to be at the actual birth so she’ll probably hang out at a hotel or something) and then when I’m done giving birth, within 12 hours after they will help me cut the placenta, dry, grind into a fine powder, and put it in little dissolving capsules to later be ingested by me! I would do this by myself happily but ya know, I just pushed a baby out within 12 hours and really shouldn’t be moving around a ton or standing in the kitchen for long periods of time. Well…as you can imagine, the conversation did not go so well.

For anyone that is reading this and thinking “what the heck is this crazy woman talking about?” which is the response that I got from my mom (it’s okay, it’s really what I expected) here is a little background info on why in the world someone would want to do this that was retrieved from an article by Jody Selander from http://placentabenefits.info

“Many people of the world have known the secret power of the placenta as a medicinal supplement. Among the Chinese and Vietnamese, it is a customary practice to prepare the placenta for consumption by the mother. The placenta is thought to be rich in nutrients that the mother needs to recover more readily from childbirth. In Italy, women have been known to eat parts of the placenta to help with lactation. Hungarian women bite the placenta to expedite the completion of labor. And knowledgeable midwives in this country have their birth mothers take bites of raw placenta to help stop hemorrhaging, due to its beneficial oxytocin content.? *And in western civilizations some women have found that you can dehydrate, grind, and put it into capsules to also reap the benefits.

There are a variety of potential benefits to placentophagy. For one, the placenta contains vitamins and minerals that may help fight depression symptoms, such as vitamin B6. For another, the placenta is considered rich in iron and protein, which would be useful to women recovering from childbirth, and a particular benefit to vegetarian women.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using placenta medicinally for thousands of years. One of the well-known TCM uses for placenta, or Zî hé ch?, is to help with insufficient lactation.2 Interestingly enough, in 1954, researchers conducted a study on 210 women who were expected to have insufficient milk supply. They gave dried placenta to the women, and discovered that 86% of them had a positive increase in their milk production within a matter of days.3 It is exciting to see that some scientific research has validated TCM theories of the benefits of placenta. More recent research has discovered that placentophagia could enhance pain tolerance by increasing the opium-like substances activated during childbirth. This would obviously be beneficial during the postpartum healing process.

In my personal experience, women who have taken placenta capsules report positive results in an overwhelming number of cases. Some women have even reported feeling positive effects as quickly as the same afternoon of the day they began their first dose. Women who were already feeling “weepy”, or experiencing other early signs of the baby blues, have felt better within days. Although the current scientific research is exciting, we have barely begun to scratch the surface of the potential benefits of placentophagy. Considering that placenta is a completely natural substance, created by a woman’s own body, encapsulation of the placenta is definitely worth considering as part of a holistic postpartum recovery for every expectant woman.

More specifically, placenta pills may help to:

• Increase general energy

• Allow a quicker return to health after birth

• Increase production of breast milk

• Decrease likelihood of baby blues and postnatal depression

• Decrease likelihood of iron deficiency

• Decrease likelihood of insomnia or sleep disorders

The body is so individual and because of the powerful nature of this medicine other benefits are also likely but too numerous to mention. I believe that this practice is particularly beneficial to vegetarian mothers and those prone to post natal depression” (Jody Selander, 2006).

So I sent this information to my mother and got back some really awesome quotes via email. Here are a few of my favorites for you all to revel in,

Thanks for the support, mom!

“REALLY?” yeah mom, really that is why I am asking for your help

“At this point this is, in my opinion, just a wives tale. I know that you buy into a lot of natural/holistic stuff, but this is really out there.” Her opinion was formulated from the one article that I sent her, not the extensive research and testimonials that I have done on the subject.

“You get to do what you want to do, but I don’t really want to be a part of something that has no documented value—and from my viewpoint is really gross.” Yeah I do get to do what I want, because I’m a grownup and I can see that you are not because the added “gross” comment, really mature.

And the final kicker…

“You can’t believe everything that you read on the web….Remember how crazy the family was that you nannyed for?  This sounds just as crazy.” Thanks for the advice about the web mom, I didn’t go to grad school, write a research thesis or anything and don’t know anything about searching for valid information. Oh and I haven’t talked to anyone about it either, this is just something I decided to do on a whim, NOT.

To be fair, the first time I head about this practice was in a birthing class at a natural birth center when I was pregnant with my first daughter. The women were exchanging recipes to make things like “placenta miso soup” and to put it into different foods. My reaction was similar. I think I accidentally made a “ugh” or other disgusted noise out loud. My husband was really embarrassed and I was too in shock to be embarrassed. They were going to eat it! Anyway, these reactions are normal  before you gather the information and process it and I forgive my mother for what she said today.

So… after these shenanigans I found out that my midwife actually does the encapsulation and has been doing this for about ten years. Though I was kind of psyched about attempting it myself, I guess dragging my mom into it wasn’t such a hot idea. I still hope that she needs to use OUR kitchen though when my mom is here, watching in disapproval. Kind of makes me feel like a naughty teenager again!

Baby and placenta love,

Amy

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14 Responses to Placenta Encapsulation and Ingestion

  1. Diana J. says:

    I am passionate about placentophagy – it really rocks! I have posted several articles about it on my blog. Good luck with it!!!

  2. Jenn says:

    This is one of those things I don’t think I’ll ever get into. I don’t doubt it helps, but… I can’t get past the ick factor. Though if I were to do it, encapsulation would be the only way I could. Placenta smoothies.. I can’t really even think about while pregnant while my gag reflex is so strong.

  3. I used to think it was “gross” and thought those who consumed it in any way were a little intense. Now, I provide the service. After researching, the placenta is an amazing organ! Placentabakery.com has some great info on all the good stuff in it. I figured, this has worked for women for centuries, only just recently has our western culture been obsessed with studies to prove how something works. People use herbs with no studies, right? I do admit, I don’t think I could chug a placenta smoothie.

    Shannon
    Organic Baby Birth Services
    Rock Star Maternity Blog

  4. Lori says:

    I had a certified Placenta Benefits encapsulator come and do the dirty work for me after the birth of my 3rd. The way I see it, there is some evidence that it is helpful, and there’s no “downside” or side effects even if it’s not helpful.

  5. AtaraP says:

    I have to say, I never really thought seriously about doing it but after reading your post I posted it to a page I run and started thinking about doing it for this next birth. I got the baby blues pretty bad after #2 and I know that I’ll be pretty depleted after doing a third birth in less than 4 years… anyway, thanks for sharing. It definitely gives me something to think about.

  6. Cindy says:

    My daughter is expecting her second baby any time. She wants to do this and I totally support her. I will gladly help her. I am a nurse and can see how this will be beneficial. I am looking forward to seeing how this will prevent some of the issues that she experienced after the birth of her first child. Sure, it’s going to be a little odd, considering it is something that comes out of my daughter’s body, but the baby will be drinking milk from her body, and has spent the entire pregnancy being nourished by the placenta. Why waste it? There could be no possible harm.

  7. referenda mcneal says:

    I’m having my 3rd child right now after 6 years. Im considering placenta encapsulation, and i have been researching about it. I heard many great benefits about placenta encapsulation so i thought why not it doesn’t hurt to try. After my first and my second child i always get bad anxiety and depression infact i toke prescriptionn medications for atleast a couple years after i deliver my kids. I dont have anxiety and depression before i had kids and all of a sudden i get them after childbirth. After reading your post, i decided to really consider placenta encapsulation…thanks for your post it really helps me made up my mind.
    P.S.Taking it in capsule would be easier though than chugging a placenta smoothie…that would be very hard thing for me to do:) hahahaha

  8. am1 says:

    Does anyone know if placenta encapsulation can be done if pitocin (only up to level 7), and an epidural were used during labor? I haven’t found any discussion about this.

    • Lori says:

      The only contraindication for not encapsulating, is if you are a smoker. Because the placenta acts as a filter it actually gets filter out what baby doesn’t need. How amazing is that?!

  9. Sarah Laruffa says:

    To answer am1 I have just learnt how to do this and have been advise the only time it is not safe is if there has been any form of infection!!

    Good luck, Light and Love,

    Sare

  10. Sasa says:

    so…did u do it? was it hard? I am really trying to do it myself. 200 bucks seems steep to me. Just wondering how it went.

  11. Brittany says:

    I absolutely loved your article. I’m in a Anatomy and Physiology class and we were actually talked about placenta consumption today. I think it’s really neat and will more than likely capsulate my placenta..5 mnths pregnant with baby #2.

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