Placenta Encapsulation FAQ
Is it safe to do this in my home?
The placenta encapsulation specialist (PES) adheres to all OSHA & EPA guidelines regarding bloodborne pathogen transmission, infection prevention, standards for sanitation, and safe food handling. The PES brings all of the necessary equipment and encapsulation materials to your home to complete the process. All materials used are thoroughly sterilized between each use, when not disposable, and everything meets food grade standards.
How to I get my placenta home?
Your placenta is yours, and you have a legal right to take it home with you from your hospital or birth center. Start talking about your desire to have your placenta released while you are still pregnant. Many doctors, midwives, and nurses in Portland have heard the request before, but it is good to write it into your birth plan and mention it several times in the last few appointments before delivering. Ask for the hospital policy about placentas so there are no surprises. You don't have to tell them why you want the placenta, that is a private matter; but there are some reports of more reluctance to release it if you say it is for encapsulation. If pushed, you can state that you have a "profound belief" in the sacred nature of the placenta, and leave it at that. You may be asked to sign a form called "Consent to Release Products of Childbirth". If the hospital has immediate release, you can put your placenta into a tupperware like container with a lid or double bag it into gallon size Ziploc bags. Be prepared and bring your own container, though some hospitals will provide one. You can even bring a small cooler/insulated lunchbox, fill with ice, and use that to transport the contained placenta home as soon as possible, even if mom and baby will be there longer. Some area hospitals have a policy of sending placentas to pathology automatically, and keeping them for 7-15 days. Your placenta can still be brought home and encapsulated after this time, but you MUST request that it be frozen rather than refrigerated while being held in pathology. Once it is at home, ideally the process of encapsulation can start within 24-48 hours postpartum. Refrigeration is required from time of delivery and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days. If it needs to be kept longer, double bag your placenta into gallon size freezer bags and freeze it until we can start the process. We cannot pick up your placenta for you, but can meet a family member at your home and certainly begin the process of encapsulation even if mom and baby are still in the hospital.
Will placenta medicine help with breastfeeding?
In order to explain the benefits of placenta with regard to breastfeeding, it is important to understand the process of lactation. As the placenta separates from the uterine wall during the third stage of labor, a dramatic shift in hormones takes place in the mother’s blood stream and brain. The hormones that help during birth like oxytocin and prolactin continue to be important as breastmilk production starts in the first few days after giving birth. The placenta has a store of these hormones leftover from the labor, which could be absorbed by the mom in placenta medicine. The placenta also has as beneficial iron and protein to strengthen the new mother’s blood and ease recovery from her birth experience. All of these factors can ultimately lead to a less fatigued new mom with a better chance of bringing in a full milk supply.
How does placenta medicine help with the Baby Blues?
Research shows us that the placenta makes many hormones and raises their levels during the end of pregnancy. The brain is usually responsible for the production of these hormones, so while the placenta is making them, the brain slows production. When the placenta is delivered, many of the hormones are still in the blood and tissues of the placenta. The hormones in the mother’s bloodstream will drop dramatically at birth. The brain will take a few weeks to balance the production of the hormones, which is why we think many moms (as many as 80%) experience some symptoms of the baby blues. Placenta medicine can offer an easily absorbed form of some of these hormones like estrogen, prolactin, and Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). These hormones can balance the production of serotonin, which is a hormone associated with feelings of happiness; help get breastfeeding off to a good start; and keep our stress levels low during the postpartum period.
Why does placenta medicine help with fatigue?
Traditional Chinese Medicne (TCM) uses placenta medicine to address fatigue. Research has shown that many new moms are anemic, or iron deficient. This condition sometimes occurs during pregnancy, but can be brought on by blood loss during delivery. Most moms recover their iron stores due to their increased blood supply from pregnancy, but for those that are still anemic, symptoms can lead to physical fatigue, making the stress of caring for a newborn or recovering from a difficult birth even harder. Moms with symptoms of fatigue that don’t go away with extra rest have been shown to have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression and a lack of bonding with their newborn. The good news is that even if a mom is not iron deficient at delivery, the boost of iron from placenta medicine can raise energy levels and balance emotions by lessening the stress of the postpartum period.
What else can placenta medicine do?
In animal studies, placenta medicine was shown to enhance the bodies’ natural ability to tolerate pain around delivery. Placenta was also shown to increase the effectiveness of certain types of medication like morphine, meaning that the mothers needed smaller doses to feel a significant amount of pain relief. Smaller doses of medication have been shown to reduce dependency on the drug, lessen side effects, and decrease the likelihood that bonding will be interrupted.
Don’t animals eat their placenta just to clean up their nest after giving birth?
Almost all land mammals in the wild have been observed to eat their placenta soon after delivery. This is true in singleton deliveries as well as litters with multiple placentas. The theory that this is to clean up the birth evidence and eliminate any odors or attractants to predators does not hold up for several reasons. Even predators at the top of the food chain consume their placentas. There is no need for these animals to even fear a predator attack, so these animals do not need to attempt to erase the evidence of their birth. Also, some mammals live in precarious habitats, difficult for predators to reach. This does not stop these animals from eating their placentas, however, nor do they drop them into areas where predators could easily find them and yet not endanger the newborn; they patiently consume the entire placenta. Animals with less dependent newborns, infants that can literally walk away from the birth site, also ingest their placentas, regardless of the reality that they could be miles away from the location before becoming vulnerable to a predator. The blood and other fluids involved in the birth process are not in any way cleaned up or hidden and these body fluids may be at least as attractive to a predator as the placenta itself. In fact, the argument those mothers stay and eat the placenta, sometimes taking hours, rather than leave the site is evidence that the behavior of placentophagy is not just about cleaning up the nest.
Does it taste bad?
Not at all! We use unflavored capsules and like any medicine, it is swallowed with a glass of water. There should not be any flavor. If preferred, we can encapsulate with flavored capsules, which usually impart a slightly fruity flavor.
Is it really MY placenta?
Yes! We do all the preparation in your home, so your placenta will never leave your possession. You can be assured that it is your placenta with nothing added. You are welcome to participate by observing as much of the process as you like. Conversely, if you would rather not be part of the process, we will be as quick and discreet as we can and will be busy in the kitchen area with no need to disturb you as you heal and bond with your new baby.
What other ways can I consume my placenta?
Some moms would like an immediate does of placenta medicine. If desired, we can give you instructions for how to prepare a placenta smoothie with a piece of your placenta and fresh or frozen fruit. We are happy to explore any other recipes of consuming placenta that you are drawn to, but preparation will be up to you.
If you are looking for extensive preparation with your placenta (salves, tinctures, artwork, jewelry, etc) we can make referrals for those services.