Placenta Encapsulation — The Bump
Natural Birth

Placenta Encapsulation

Sounds totally gross and creepy, right?  Might kinda turn your stomach a little?  If I told you there was a pill you could take following your birth that would:

  • reduce your risk of baby blues/post-partum depression
  • support and enrich breast milk production
  • decrease iron deficiency (anemia)
  • increase your energy levels
  • help you heal faster
  • help you sleep better

? would you take it?

Who WOULDN?T?

What is this magic pill and where do I get it!?!  What if I were to tell you that its your own placenta that provides you all those benefits?  In most cases you don't have to do anything - just hire someone to come do it for you.  It takes out the ick factor big time since you don't have to see/hear/smell/do anything.  You just have a jar of pills magically appear.

I wanted to put myself out there for you guys if you have questions about Placenta Encapsulation.  I'm a clinical massage therapist, aromatherapist, birth doula, and placenta encapsulationist.  More and more of my clients are doing PE and everyone has a ton of questions about it. 

From my OWN clients, I've had moms report that post-partum bleeding was minimized, their breast milk came in sooner and there was more of it, their care provider noted a much FASTER uterine healing timeline, they have more energy, sleep better, etc.

So clearly I'm an advocate.  If you have questions, fire away!

Re: Placenta Encapsulation

  • I'm planning on doing it since I'm getting what I think is a good deal through my doula ($100, and the doula is free since she's training and one of my closest friends) and because PPD runs in my family...so whatever might help, I'm all for.

    My only concern has been if encapsulation is less effective with delayed cord clamping?

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  • It shouldn't be any less effective with delayed cord clamping.  There is still a fair amount of blood in the cord and the placenta, so you're still getting a very healthy amount of stem cells typically.

    And yes - you're getting a FANTASTIC deal on that.  In San Diego, prices start at $200 and go up from there.

     What kind of facility are you birthing in?

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  • welcome to the board! hope to see you comment on areas of interest!

    i ate my placenta raw (smoothies) following my homebirth last year. no baby blues, no PPD (what i was hoping to avoid since i had an issue after my first birth 4 years prior).

    i teach HypnoBirthing and offer this as an option to my students (among many options, i like to share everything i know). what are your thoughts on encapsulation vs. raw ingestion?  this is always a question that comes up. 

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  • Where I am it's common to bury the placenta, which is what we did with our daughter's and will do again with this next LO.

    If we didn't though, I would be very interested in encapsulation.

    I'm not sure I could face eating it raw like pp. 

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  • Awesome question, Lindsey!

    Raw is by far the most immediate and fully beneficial way to ingest your placenta, but there are a couple of challenges with it. 

    • If you birth in a hospital, the placenta is often exposed to unknown contaminants - especially if it goes to pathology for testing 
    • Raw placenta has a finite shelf life.  It DOES go bad at some point.
    • Most people can't get past the "ick" factor

    Homebirthers have a distinct advantage here in that a majority of midwives will be more than happy to help you make your first one or two smoothies and some will even do the raw preparation for you.

    Encapsulation does a couple of things

    • Removes the cultural stigma of "eating" your placenta
    • Limits your exposure to any contaminants your placenta might have come into contact with
    • Increases the "life" of your placenta - because it has been dehydrated and ground into powder.

    Yes, you can freeze the raw placenta and save it - but its no different than any other piece of meat you put in your freezer... and really, who wants to do anything with a placenta that has freezer burn?

    Most of my clients wind up with enough pills to give them a "weaning" process from the hormone support.  I recommend a month long protocol and more often than not my moms wind up with excess pills.  I always suggest they freeze them and save them for use following subsequent deliveries.  Then they can start on them immediately following the next birth and don't have to wait for the new placenta to be encapsulated.

     The other little known fact (and not widely discussed for some reason) is the fact that you can save your capsules for MENOPAUSE.  Odds of you taking out your frozen placenta and wanting to use it for anything other than a cold pack to reduce hot flashes are nominal.  LOL  Then there's always the chance that in the 20 years since your birth, it got lost, thrown away, damaged... 

     I recommend for moms who want both, to DO both.  Keep some for raw ingestion and encapsulate the rest.  No reason you can't.  Just try to be realistic about how much raw consumption you're REALLY going to do.

    Does that help?

  • imageSanctuaryMsg:

     What kind of facility are you birthing in? 

    I'm delivering in a birth center at a hospital.  It's about as crunchy as hospitals get (it's in Davis, after all) so I'm sure they get requests to keep the placenta quite frequently.  I still have to call to ask if we need to bring anything with us for it, however, like a cooler or something.  I don't know what their procedure is.

  • Placenta encapsulation has intrigued me since I first learned about it. The benefits you list are certainly reasons for pursuing it. Do you have some research and other data with this information so I can learn more? Thanks in advance.


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  • A hospital BC can be fabulous - especially since most of them allow you to deliver with a midwife if you want one.

    Two things to note if you're doing a delivery at a hospital:

    1. Make sure you DECLINE ALL TESTING.  It might be a BC but its still in a hospital.  Make sure you know ahead of time what the hospital's policy is.  Sometimes the standard intake forms apply even with the BC patients.  Placentas that go to pathology for testing can be a challenge to get back.  Even if you get them back within the 72 hour window you need to start encapsulation in, you have no assurance it has been refrigerated, or that it was inspected on a clean and chemical free surface with instruments that are fresh from the autoclave.

    2. Take your own cooler bag and ice packs.  I also recommend you take a large disposable plastic container (with a lid) and/or a large ziplock bag.  You'll need something to put it in, and you have no idea how large your placenta will be.

    There are added elements if you're in a hospital, but outside of a birth center... but those two items are the ones I would emphasize most for you.  

  • imagerubycitrine:
    Placenta encapsulation has intrigued me since I first learned about it. The benefits you list are certainly reasons for pursuing it. Do you have some research and other data with this information so I can learn more? Thanks in advance.

     Ruby,

    Most of the information is anecdotal, but this hypnobirthing site out of Utah has compiled a ton of great info:  https://www.hypnobirthingutah.com/research-studies-supporting-placenta-encapsulation/

    My best recommendation is to speak to women who have DONE it.  Each woman's experience is different... but I'd ask around.  Find out directly from them what their experience has been. 

    This last week I had a client who had significant blood loss and surgical repair of a cervical tear from giving birth.  She lost a fair bit of blood and was told she likely wouldn't lactate for up to a week while her anemia resolved.  She started taking her placenta supplements and her lactation started within 12 hours.


  • imageKateLouise:

    Where I am it's common to bury the placenta, which is what we did with our daughter's and will do again with this next LO.

    If we didn't though, I would be very interested in encapsulation.

    I'm not sure I could face eating it raw like pp. 

     

    I've heard the ritual in New Zealand for the placenta is BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • To follow up on the raw vs encapsulated, what I really wonder about is how stable the beneficial proteins are through the encapsulation process.  I'm having mine encapsulated and I believe the person doing it first steams the placenta with herbs and then dehydrates it.  I wonder what temperatures the placenta reaches and if that basically destroys some of the goodies in the placenta.  It would certainly kill all of the cells, if they even survived that long.

    I really wish someone would do studies on this so we could have real answers.  If only I'd stuck with it through my PhD instead of dropping out.  Wink

    My personal opinion on it is that while I imagine it's much more beneficial to ingest the placenta raw and probably quickly (like most/all other mammals), I can't get past the ick factor, so I'll take the middle road and encapsulate.  

    I read somewhere about raw encapsulation.  Do you know anything about that?  I'm not sure how that would work...how would the capsules not disintegrate with raw placenta inside...

    image
  • Cheri,

    Most encapsulation practitioners don't necessarily know the reasons for doing what they do, but let me break it down for you a bit.

    The placenta should only be steamed so it is warmed all the way through.  In Chinese medicine warmed foods are more healing, so the placenta doesn't need to be "cooked" just warmed.  The water usually includes elements of lemon, ginger and often some kind of pepper (check with your provider to see what they use, if any).  Lemon and ginger help your body absorb the capsule's contents more deeply into your system, and the pepper dilates and warms your system, also said to help further the healing process.

    I'd note that your concern about benefits being "killed" by cell death are a bit of a moot point since we're also dehydrating the placenta.  I'd liken the difference to that of pro-biotics.  Are you taking live cultures (like you get from yogurt and such) or are you taking them in pill form - which are not?  Either way you get significant benefit from taking them.

     I will agree that it is very difficult to get traction in American medical communities and with Western Medicine minded individuals without a case study of some kind.  I would also argue that it is relatively easy to manipulate a case study to achieve the outcome you're hoping for - unless its done by a third party. Even so, many third party studies are influenced by who hires them and will often bias a study to their client's desired outcome.

    Raw encapsulation isn't something I've encountered.  It certainly isn't practiced in Southern California (where I am).  I'd have to agree with your assessment and say I can't imagine how you'd stabilize the capsule - and quite frankly they'd be extremely difficult to make.  Let's just say that I wouldn't be willing to offer it.  LOL

  • Maybe I'm just weird but theres absolutely no ick factor for me when it comes to eating the placenta. We're tight on money and the services I've found are $100 and up so I'm seriously considering eating it raw somehow. I plan to give birth at a birth center and I'm sure my midwife would be cool with me taking the placenta home in a cooler. Anyone have recipes or other recommendations? 
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  • I very much hope to go the encapsulation route. I don't see much of an ick factor for myself if I were to have it raw, but my husband does... he is fully on board with encapsulation and especially likes the fact that it could help stave off PPD, as I am very prone to depression. Seeing as I am fine with it either way, I want to go with encapsulation.

    My only worry is that I WILL be giving birth in a hospital when the time comes. I won't have a choice. I have high blood pressure now, and I will need to be on blood thinners as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. My mom had an autoimmune disorder and I have tested positive for one component of it, so I'm not taking any chances, and I'm choosing to be considered high risk and go with the preventative treatment. I'll be under the care of a MFM at a specific hospital, and I can guarantee that the "I want my placenta" request is one that they haven't seen much of at all. Despite my high risk status, I am determined to have a natural, med free birth... and I will really want that placenta!

    I hope to have a doula, hopefully we will be able to afford one. I know there is one in my area who also offers encapsulation. 

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  • imagejasieandry:
    Maybe I'm just weird but theres absolutely no ick factor for me when it comes to eating the placenta. We're tight on money and the services I've found are $100 and up so I'm seriously considering eating it raw somehow. I plan to give birth at a birth center and I'm sure my midwife would be cool with me taking the placenta home in a cooler. Anyone have recipes or other recommendations? 

     Nice!  There are plenty of women who are right there with you!  If its a choice between eating it raw or not ingesting any of it at all, I'd go with raw as well!  There are simply too many benefits to NOT do it.  The MOST common raw use I've heard is in a berry smoothie.  

    Best advice I can give for raw - rinse it thoroughly!  Make sure you trim off the umbilical cord and amniotic sac, and then cut it into small pieces - about the size of a quarter.  You'll want a super sharp knife.  Make sure you FREEZE whatever you haven't consumed by 72 hours postpartum.  Keep it in the fridge before then.

    And btw - I have NEVER had a problem taking a placenta from a birth center.

    Good luck! 

  • punkrockabye,

     There's no reason you can't take and encapsulate your placenta with the conditions you've listed.  Mamas with Hepatitis and HIV can - so can you.  The biggest thing is checking on the hospital policy with releasing your placenta to you.  We have a hospital locally that REFUSES to release placentas.  In my state, they have NO legal right to refuse it, but we've yet to have a mama challenge them.

    Best recommendation - again... REFUSE ALL TESTING on the placenta.  Tell your husband to watch it like a hawk.  If he's standing right there with a ziplock bag and sticks it in front of your OB while telling them that he has to have it for cultural/religious reasons has worked on a few occasions.  LOL  Recently I even heard about a dad telling the nurse that she could either give him the placenta or he'd name her specifically in the lawsuit.  LOL

    Your best bet is always to educate yourself and then surround yourself with care providers who support your vision of birth.  Knowing your options and knowing that you have a CHOICE in what kind of care you receive are your most powerful assets.  =)

     

    PS - doulas kick ass and do a great job helping keep you on track with achieving the goals you set and making sure you're making educated decisions.  They'll also keep an eagle eye on that placenta for you and remind you to be on top of that.  LOL 

  • imageSanctuaryMsg:

    Awesome question, Lindsey!

    Raw is by far the most immediate and fully beneficial way to ingest your placenta, but there are a couple of challenges with it. 

    • If you birth in a hospital, the placenta is often exposed to unknown contaminants - especially if it goes to pathology for testing 
    • Raw placenta has a finite shelf life.  It DOES go bad at some point.
    • Most people can't get past the "ick" factor

    Homebirthers have a distinct advantage here in that a majority of midwives will be more than happy to help you make your first one or two smoothies and some will even do the raw preparation for you.

    Encapsulation does a couple of things

    • Removes the cultural stigma of "eating" your placenta
    • Limits your exposure to any contaminants your placenta might have come into contact with
    • Increases the "life" of your placenta - because it has been dehydrated and ground into powder.

    Yes, you can freeze the raw placenta and save it - but its no different than any other piece of meat you put in your freezer... and really, who wants to do anything with a placenta that has freezer burn?

    Most of my clients wind up with enough pills to give them a "weaning" process from the hormone support.  I recommend a month long protocol and more often than not my moms wind up with excess pills.  I always suggest they freeze them and save them for use following subsequent deliveries.  Then they can start on them immediately following the next birth and don't have to wait for the new placenta to be encapsulated.

     The other little known fact (and not widely discussed for some reason) is the fact that you can save your capsules for MENOPAUSE.  Odds of you taking out your frozen placenta and wanting to use it for anything other than a cold pack to reduce hot flashes are nominal.  LOL  Then there's always the chance that in the 20 years since your birth, it got lost, thrown away, damaged... 

     I recommend for moms who want both, to DO both.  Keep some for raw ingestion and encapsulate the rest.  No reason you can't.  Just try to be realistic about how much raw consumption you're REALLY going to do.

    Does that help?

    that's great! thanks so much.

    if someone wanted to keep some for encapsulation, say to have some for menopause, roughly how much should be encapsulated? half? a quarter? 

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  • imagejasieandry:
    Maybe I'm just weird but theres absolutely no ick factor for me when it comes to eating the placenta. We're tight on money and the services I've found are $100 and up so I'm seriously considering eating it raw somehow. I plan to give birth at a birth center and I'm sure my midwife would be cool with me taking the placenta home in a cooler. Anyone have recipes or other recommendations? 

    my smoothies were usually made with a few strawberries, half a banana, a cup of yogurt, Mila (a chia seed, see www.seed4change.net and ask me if you want to order some!) some ice and a little milk. if i didn't have banana, i'd use whatever other fruit was in the house (mango, other berries, etc., but always some strawberries for color!). 

    we cut the placenta into cubes and used 2-3 cubes per shake.

    recommendation: if someone else makes the smoothies for you, ask them to continue making placebo smoothies for several days after the placenta is gone.

    i had exactly one day of baby blues, the day my husband told me the placenta was all gone. i gave this rec to a girlfriend and she had placebo smoothies and her transition after the placenta was gone was much smoother than mine. my MW, who turned me on to raw ingestion, now also gives her families this recommendation as well. 

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  • Can you get your placenta encapsulated if you have a c-section?





  • imagejcsumm0:
    Can you get your placenta encapsulated if you have a c-section?

    yes, but as discussed above, you need to make sure that you have done everything the hospital requires in order to remove your placenta from the premises. 

    at the hospital where i had my c/s, they consider it a body part and moms have to complete paperwork to have it removed and pay a fee as you would to transfer a body from the morgue. this is what i was told after the fact. i didn't check b/c i was planning a homebirth. i made it clear that i wanted the placenta during the surgery and i never got it. they just humored me during the surgery. 

    lesson learned: make sure you take care of all paperwork ahead of time and put someone in charge of the placenta.  

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  • Lindsey,

    I'd say whatever you don't think you'll reasonably consume raw within the first 3-5 days should be encapsulated.  Some moms go as long as a week ingesting raw, but its a totally personal decision.  

    Does that help?

  • imagejcsumm0:
    Can you get your placenta encapsulated if you have a c-section?

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    The trick here is that your surgeon has to be on board.  Check your hospital's policies on releasing a placenta after a c-section too.  Its far more common for them to INSIST on sending it to pathology following a c-section.

  • i think it depends on the hospital.  I told them up front we wanted the placenta.  The nurse brought the cooler down for the c-section and it was packed up and in my room when i got back.  we didn't have to do any paperwork or anything. 
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  • imageSanctuaryMsg:

    Lindsey,

    I'd say whatever you don't think you'll reasonably consume raw within the first 3-5 days should be encapsulated.  Some moms go as long as a week ingesting raw, but its a totally personal decision.  

    Does that help?

    Yes! Thank you! 

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