What You Need to Know About Placenta Encapsulation

Would you eat your placenta? If the thought of a placenta smoothie doesn’t whet your appetite then maybe taking it as capsules would be something to consider.

The Placenta – Your Baby’s First Environment

The placenta is the loving provider of nourishment to your baby inside your uterus and is birthed after the baby is born. It is a nutrient rich organ that looks kind of like a jellyfish and is responsible for delivering nutrients and oxygen to the baby and removing waste from the womb.  In the photo above you can see the smooth interior of the organ and the squishy exterior which is attached to mom until the uterus kicks it out after baby is born.  This is connected to baby via the umbilical cord.

eating placenta

A Bit of History On Eating Placentas

Consumption of the placenta originated in Chinese medicine; the first documentation being in 1578. The practice was first documented in Europe before the 1700’s and was brought into popularity in the states in the 1980’s by a midwife who was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine.

placenta-and-umbilical-cord-illustration-from-the-Mama-Natural-Week-by-Week-Guide-to-Pregnancy-Childbirth-1024x599

The Encapsulation Process

There are three main types of placenta encapsulation: the Traditional (TM) method, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method and the Raw method. All three methods prefer that the placenta be as fresh as possible – typically the first 48 hours after birth. For both the TCM method and the TM method, the placenta is thoroughly cleaned, steamed and dehydrated until it is dry. The resulting pieces are then ground into a fine powder and placed in capsules. The Raw method keeps the placenta raw and dehydrates after cleaning the placenta in order to retain the highest nutrient content possible. Depending on the size of the placenta and the method used, you can expect between 70-200 capsules.

Placenta-Encapsulation-313x207

General Directions

The typical recommendation is to consume 2-6 capsules a day for six weeks. The leftover pills can be kept for other times of hormonal change such as weaning from breastmilk and even menopause (Jacquie has a stash in her freezer from her fist birth to test out when menopause comes along!). For these circumstances especially, it is important to keep the pills in a cool dry environment. After a year, they must be placed in a freezer.

placenta & baby diagram

The Research

While there has not been any research to prove any positive or negative side effects from the pills directly, many women have documented their results. Some have shared positive physical results such as an increase in breast milk, decreased anemia, reduced post-partum bleeding, less post-partum pain and having an increase in energy. There are also theories that the pills can help prevent post-partum depression, restore lost nutrients, and increase levels of oxytocin and stress-relieving hormones.

On the other hand, some have also had negative results. There have been cases of frequent headaches, stomach pain, unexplainable low milk production and emotional symptoms similar to PMS as well as dizziness or nausea. A few of these cases have been linked to improper storage of the pills while some are unexplained.

The only warned risk of these pills comes from ensuring they are only consumed by the mother, due to the risk of blood-born disease and other illnesses. It has also been suggested not to consume the pills if you are experiencing symptoms that are similar to the flu, fever or mastitis.

placenta prints

In Conclusion

If you’re interested in encapsulating your placenta, reach out to some of the wonderfully trained providers in Durham Region. Talk to them about their processes and go with the one you think will work best for you. The average cost to have your placenta encapsulated is around $200-$250. Some providers will include extras like tinctures, an umbilical cord keepsake and sometimes a print of the placenta which can be a cherished memento from your birth.

Did you or are you considering encapsulating your placenta? Did you do something other than encapsulate your placenta? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was written by our incredible summer intern Avery Snelling who has a passion for women’s health and birth.

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