What is Placenta Encapsulation?
If you’re pregnant, you’ve likely heard of placenta encapsulation. From celebrities to people living a holistic lifestyle, the practice is becoming more common. While the act of consuming placenta may disgust some, others report that it provides significant health benefits after pregnancy and even later on in life.
What is placenta encapsulation? Does it work? Is it even safe? We will answer these basic questions and more in this guide.
What is Placenta Encapsulation?
As you probably know, the placenta is a pancake-shaped organ that surrounds your baby and provides him or her with the oxygen and nutrients to grow. It also eliminates waste from his or her blood. The placenta is like a link between you and your baby; It’s attached to your uterine wall and connects to the fetus with the umbilical cord.
After you give birth, you will experience contractions that push your placenta through the birth canal. If you’re having trouble pushing the placenta out, your doctor or midwife may assist you. At this point, if you wish to take your placenta home, you should communicate that to your health care provider.
Some women choose to take their placenta home and eat it because they believe it will give them various health benefits. Placenta encapsulation is the practice of putting the placenta into capsule form so the mother can easily ingest it. The placenta is dehydrated, ground into a powder and placed inside capsules. The mother usually takes these capsules after giving birth, during their period or during menopause.
The person who will be making your capsules will want the placenta within 48 hours of giving birth. Within a few days, you will receive about 100-200 capsules. According to Placenta Remedies Network, capsules can be taken 2-4 times per day within the first 6 weeks of giving birth. Some women choose to freeze the capsules and save them for when they’re going through menopause.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how placenta capsules taste. Fortunately, many women report that they taste similar to a herbal supplement or have no taste at all. However, if you choose to eat your placenta in its raw form, it will have a raw meat-like taste — which is why most mothers who ingest it choose to either blend it in a smoothie or encapsulate it.
The video below shows how a doula — who is certified in placenta encapsulation — transforms the organ into pills. [Warning: Graphic images].
Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation
Although consuming placenta might be a new concept to you, it’s actually centuries old and is a practice common in Chinese medicine. While there are no statistics on exactly how common placenta encapsulation is, it is gaining popularity throughout the United States and Canada.
Even celebrities have raved about the practice. Kim Kardashian wrote on her website that she thought the pills would prevent against the baby blues.
“Every time I take a pill, I feel a surge of energy and feel really healthy and good,” Kardashian wrote.
Katherine Heigl, Alicia Silverstone and January Jones have also commented publicly about how their placenta capsules helped them after pregnancy.
Here are some of the possible benefits of placenta encapsulation:
- Increases milk production
- Increases energy
- Decreases postpartum depression
- Increases depleted iron levels
- Helps uterus return to pre-pregnancy size
- Balances hormones
To understand more about the potential benefits of placenta encapsulation, watch the video below.
There are not many scientific studies on placenta encapsulation and its effects. Most of the reported benefits come from anecdotal evidence.
One of the most reported benefits is that placenta can help prevent post-partum depression. Since the depression is linked to a lack of essential nutrients, it is believed that the placenta provides those nutrients in high amounts and can reduce the baby blues.
Researchers who reviewed 10 studies concluded that there was no evidence that eating placenta can either help or hurt the mother. In addition, many of the studies were conducted on mice and may not reflect the effects it has on humans.
The IPEN Placenta Network surveyed over 700 mothers who were taking placenta capsules. Here were the results:
- 76% had milk within 48 hours of giving birth (the average is 3-4 days)
- 58% had no problems breastfeeding
- 40% were unsure if placenta encapsulation affected their milk supply
Some women also report that taking placenta capsules helped them through menopause. During menopause, a woman may experience mood swings, hot flashes and insomnia due to her hormonal changes. Some people believe that the nutrients within the placenta will help regulate hormones and thereby decrease symptoms.
Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?
One of the major concerns when considering placenta encapsulation is whether or not it is safe. According to Placenta Remedies Network, less than 2% of their clients experienced side effects. These side effects included mild headaches, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramping and emotional symptoms. However, since your placenta is made by your own body, it is unique and it can be difficult to determine the potential side effects. For example, if the placenta has very high iron levels, it’s possible they could cause constipation, just like over-the-counter iron supplements.
In terms of scientific studies, research hasn’t found any safety issues or risks with eating your own placenta. However, the studies have focused on evaluating the benefits, not evaluating potential risks. With that being said, more research needs to be conducted to determine its safety. It’s important to note that if you choose to encapsulate your placenta, you should be the only one consuming it.
One of the safety concerns is the sanitation and cleanliness throughout the encapsulating process. If you share this concern, speak to the person preparing the capsules and ask them what steps they take to ensure health and safety. The person should be using surgical grade steel, gloves and disinfectant. Some specialists may also offer to prepare the capsules in your home so you are able to watch over the process. One of the other worries is that there are currently no laws or regulations to control how a person prepares the capsules and in what environments. Unlike hospitals and restaurants, which are subject to health inspections, home kitchens — where the capsules are prepared — go unchecked.
You should also ask how he or she prevents mix-ups between different women’s placenta to ensure you only consume what your own body has made.
Like any meat product, the placenta should be kept in the fridge before it is encapsulated for health and safety reasons. In capsule form, it should be kept in a cool place, such as a dark cupboard or the refrigerator.
Placenta Encapsulation Cost
The cost of placenta encapsulation varies by location and provider. If you are getting the service done by your doula, she may give you a discount because you’re already a customer.
The general range for placenta encapsulation is between $200 to $400.
Alternatively, some people also choose to encapsulate it themselves. If you have a strong stomach and wish to do it yourself, you’ll need to purchase an encapsulating machine, capsules and a food dehydrator.
Other Placenta Practices
There are more placenta practices other than just consuming and encapsulating the organ. Some women choose to honor the placenta because it gave their fetus all the nutrients he or she needed to become a healthy baby.
Here are a few other placenta practices:
- Placenta Tincture: Some doulas will offer a service in which she lets the placenta sit in high-proof alcohol. After letting it steep, it is transferred into a dropper bottle and consumed with a liquid.
- Jewelry: For mothers that don’t wish to consume their placenta, they can still honor it in a form of jewelry. Some online jewelers allow you to ship your placenta in order to make a piece of beautiful, custom jewelry.
- Plant It: In some cultures, women plant their placenta next to a tree to honor their child’s link to mother earth.
- Placenta Prints: You may also choose to turn the placenta into a conversation piece in your home. Some doulas offer a service in which they use your placenta to create a piece of artwork that you can hang on your wall. If you’re not a squeamish person, you could try making your own.
If you choose to encapsulate your placenta, you should choose a person who is trained and certified to do so. This person could be a specialist in placenta encapsulation, or it could be someone who also doubles as a doula. In addition, you should research the laws in your area governing this practice. In some states, it is illegal to take your placenta out of the hospital.
Are you thinking of encapsulating your placenta after you give birth? If you are, comment below your reasons for wanting to ingest it. If you have any pregnant friends or family members, be sure to share this article with them, too!
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