One thing you might have heard about while preparing for your upcoming birth is placenta encapsulation. It is an ancient practice, originating in Chinese medicine, but has been making a comeback in recent times. We are going to go over all the details with you to help you make an informed decision on what to do with your placenta after birthing a healthy new member into your family.
What is Placenta Encapsulation?
For those who have never even heard of this term, this is a practice where you save your placenta and put it into capsules that you consume throughout your postpartum months. The placenta has lots of nutrients, some being fiber, protein, and potassium. By doing this practice you can absorb any placental vitamins that might be left over after the birth. There are many ways to consume the placenta after birth if this is what you decide to do. This option, in particular, has become a well-known favorite.
What are some Placenta Encapsulation Benefits?
Researchers from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas helped conduct a three-month survey on 189 mothers who had experienced consuming their placenta after birth. The study found that 95% of them had positive results. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Decreased Postpartum Depression
In reality, there have been very few studies on this topic and no real science to indicate benefits. Despite the lack of evidence, many mothers have reported that it helps ease the symptoms of postpartum depression. It is speculated that a woman going through menopause could benefit from placenta pills, but it is not suggested to consume someone else’s placenta.
Higher levels of oxytocin
Oxytocin is a hormone that can boost your mood as well as help return the uterus to its normal size. Touch is another great way to boost oxytocin levels, so moms should always snuggle with their new baby as much as possible in the first few days after birth.
Restoring your iron levels
Because of the major blood loss in childbirth, usually, there are low iron levels post-partum. Placenta consumption can help restore iron levels, which can, in turn, help out with energy levels.
Better milk production
Many new moms worry about whether they will produce enough milk. Those with previous experience have insisted that consuming the placenta helps boost milk supply. This can be very useful for moms who choose to exclusively breastfeed.
A boost in CRH – a stress-reducing hormone
Most new parents experience a good amount of stress with the arrival of parenthood. Recovering after welcoming a baby into the home can be a very stressful occasion, especially with the arrival of visitors and new responsibilities. It can be a nice treat to have a little extra stress relief.
Now that we’ve covered the main benefits let’s look at some of the cons
Dizziness or increased uterine contractions
In some women, eating the placenta has caused dizziness and increased uterine contractions. These can be very uncomfortable directly post-partum. But this does not happen with everyone who takes placenta pills. There is only a small possibility that this will occur.
The taste and smell
Many moms have chosen encapsulation as their preferred method of consuming the placenta because it can be a little unappealing in its other form. If you can get past the taste and smell, you may have a great experience. Even though encapsulation reduces this factor you may get the occasional bad burp.
Hiring a specialist is expensive
It can be a little pricey getting a specialist to come to your home and prepare your placenta. There are some other options out there to avoid this cost.
Placenta Encapsulation Cost
If you do decide to do this but don’t want to deal with encapsulating your placenta, you can always find a certified placenta encapsulation specialist. A specialist has to receive special training in order to qualify for placenta capsule preparation. They have to produce at least one client’s feedback per year to maintain this certification. Typically a specialist charges between $150 and $250 for their services. If you don’t want to go this route, you can always do it yourself in the comfort of your own kitchen.
How to Encapsulate Placenta
If you decide to make your own placenta pills, first you’ll need some materials. One option is to buy a placenta encapsulation kit like this one: (https://www.prodoula.com/product/placenta-encapsulation-kit/) or you can gather the materials you need from various pharmacies or online. There is very little equipment necessary for this process. You should be able to find most of the things you need around the house.
Keep it safe
If you don’t think you will be able to do the process within 2 to 3 hours you should put your placenta in the fridge. The placenta can last up to 72 hours in the fridge. If you think it will take longer than this to get around to it, then it should be put in the freezer as soon as possible.
The first step is cleaning and dehydration. First, you cut off the sac and cord. Wash the placenta thoroughly to remove as much blood as possible. After cleaning it, cut it into thin pieces and start the dehydration process. The dehydrating placenta should be kept at 150 degrees for 12 hours or until completely dry.
Take the dehydrated pieces of placenta and place them into a spice grinder. This creates the powder that is placed in even amounts into capsules. The capsules should be kept in a safe, dry place for future use. The dried placenta can keep for many months though it is recommended to start consuming the pills a couple of days post-partum.
One thing that some people do is add herbs to placenta capsulation. There are different herbs that you can add for different post-partum conditions but it is highly recommended you ask your doctor before introducing any new herbs to your diet.
Here is a great post that explains in detail the entire process (https://modernalternativemama.com/2015/06/24/encapsulate-placenta/)
Raw vs Steamed
There are two distinct different ways of placenta encapsulation. One is the raw method where the placenta is dehydrated raw, then ground up and placed in capsules. The traditional Chinese method was to steam the placenta with ginger and lemon before completing the rest of the process. The traditional Chinese method has the benefit of the steaming killing any bloodborne pathogens and any germs. If you decide to do it steamed, make sure you don’t have any allergies to ginger or lemon.
Alternatives to Placenta Encapsulation
If you decide you want to go a different route rather than making pills from your placenta, here are some other options. Some moms have their placenta made into a pate’. You can also cook it like normal meat and have it for dinner. If you decide on saving your placenta there are many ways to consume it if you aren’t comfortable with making it into pills.
There are several different opinions on how many placenta pills should be taken a day. It all depends on how long you want to be taking them for, since there is a limited supply, and how much you feel like you want to take at once. Here is a recommendation from a mom who has done the process and what she thinks is the appropriate dosage. “Some recommend taking 1-2 everyday, more if you feel like you want to. Others recommend starting at about 6, and stepping it back by a pill or two every few days, until they’re gone. Many women feel that 6 is way too many. I’m personally taking 2 per day until or unless I feel like I no longer should. There’s really no “one” correct way to do this so go with what works for you.”
Placenta encapsulation Studies
Unfortunately, there are very few placenta encapsulation studies. The ones that have been done are mostly done by moms interested in the topic. What has been concluded by the community that has tried this practice is that there are a number of benefits and very limited risks if the placenta is stored correctly and ingested only by the mother.
Making the Right Decision
With so many opinions and so many different routes to take, it is difficult to be sure about the right decision for your pregnancy. In the end, just do what feels right for you. If you think that placenta encapsulation is something that could help you through this experience, then don’t hesitate to try it.