Placenta Encapsulation is one way you can continue to use your placenta after the birth of your baby. If you are like many people giving birth in the Chicago area, you may be surprised you are even considering doing ANYTHING with your placenta – but being pregnant can change a lot of things, including one’s curiosity for, perhaps previously uninteresting ideas.
The placenta is an incredibly important organ. It filters, nourishes, and is your baby’s lifeline until being born. It is also an important generator of hormones that impact you, the pregnant person. The organ is known to produce prostaglandin, which helps the uterus contract after birth, and oxytocin, the hormone that enables secure bonding connections and love feelings, and much more. Another placental hormone that is connected to wellbeing is a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH is linked to stress reduction and is usually housed in the hypothalamus. However, during pregnancy, large amounts of CRH are produced by the placenta.
While there is little scientific study or evidence to support placenta encapsulation, there is a strong history of anecdotal success. Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners use the placenta as a medicine to balance out “the extremely yin or cold state of the postpartum period into a more yang or warm state,” says Heng Ou, author of The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.
Placenta consumption has been in use publicly in the US since the 1980s (and before, but privately) when American women started talking about their choices and experiences. Since that time, there has been a sharp increase in popularity and increased options for consumption.
Some prefer to consume the placenta raw in small amounts, like a smoothie to help cover the texture and taste. Encapsulation is now popular for its easy-to-take form of pills that can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until gone.
Encapsulation is the form of processing we specialize in at Holistic Family Doulas. We prepare your placenta with steam before dehydrating. Then, we grind the placenta into a powder that we measure into pills. We do this for ease and to help reduce the risk associated with bacteria and bloodborne pathogens.
Some Reasons To Consider Placenta Encapsulation:
Not everyone has the same reasons for choosing placenta encapsulation. What we know from serving Chicago families is they are interested in this service mostly for benefits in milk production, energy, and postpartum mood disorders.
There is some reason to believe that by taking placenta supplements after birth in a gradually decreasing way, your body can benefit from the hormones that are thought to remain in the placenta. Along with them, your body does the work to start reproducing these hormones naturally again. This same gradual method of consumption is also connected to mood stabilization.
While there is no guarantee you will respond in the positive ways others have when taking placenta supplements, the investment in using this postpartum healing tool is worth any possible gain. At the same time, any adverse side effects can be ended quickly by merely stopping any further use of the pills. However, if you have a difficult postpartum recovery, you can not go back and generate another placenta. There is a short window to decide to save your placenta.
Some questions you may ask:
If you are at all interested in placenta encapsulation, finding a reputable placenta specialist is important. This industry is not regulated and does not have standard guidelines that need to be followed. If only for that reason, it is good to have a conversation with the person who will be handling your placenta and make sure they have the training and experience to safely treat the placenta.
- Where did you train as a placenta encapsulator?
- Have you taken a bloodborne pathogen safety class?
- What personal protection equipment (PPE) do you wear when encapsulating?
- How do you reduce cross-contamination between clients?
- How do you want me to communicate once I’m in labor?
- What do I need to do after the placenta is born, but before you start encapsulating?
Possible negative experiences and risks associated with taking placenta pills:
It is wise to mention that some have had adverse reactions to taking placenta pills. Even if in a capsule, there is still the possibility of an unpleasant taste. For this consider taking the pills with orange juice to neutralize the flavor, and have the additional benefit vitamin C
There are risks if your placenta specialist isn’t aware that some placentas should not be serviced. If an intrauterine infection occurs before or during labor, that placenta should not be encapsulated. While steaming does eliminate the bacteria that comes in contact with the outermost layers of the placenta, a placenta is rich with blood and consuming the pills from an infected placenta causes risk or re-infection. That risk extends to your infant if you are breastfeeding. This risk should be discussed before encapsulation ever begins. If information of infection is shared with us, Holistic Family Doulas will not produce pills from this placenta.
And while many people take placenta pills to help with milk supply, some people are affected adversely, and their milk supply suffers a drop. The placenta has traces of progesterone, which negatively impacts your body’s ability to produce prolactin, a necessary hormone for milk production.
What are the outward signs you should stop taking pills?
- cold or flu-like symptoms
- or just feeling “worse” when you take them
What you get besides pills when you work with Holistic Family Doulas
One of the perks of working with us is we have experience and knowledge of the postpartum healing period and not just encapsulation services. When you work with us, we are bringing all of our expertise to our interactions. We can help with early healing questions, your newborn’s behavior insight, or help with knowing what is normal and expected. But more so than the information we have is our desire to help you be cared for thoroughly. We appreciate the care and consideration you take when looking for a placenta specialist, and we honor that trust with every part of our process.
Is placenta encapsulation for you? That is a question only you can answer. The placenta will have already done an incredible amount of work once it comes time to store it for processing. We know placenta encapsulation is only ONE way to honor you and your incredible body.