At one time, many expecting parents considering placenta encapsulation might ask "but do they work?"
The answer depends heavily on your expectations and several external factors. Lets look at several of the touted benefits, possible adverse effects and what it might mean for you.
Increase in breastmilk
Decreased postpartum bleeding
Replenish B vitamins
Balancing of hormones
Natural pain relief
Replenishing iron stores/preventing anemia
consistent flow of oxytocin after birth
Preventing and lessening of risk of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety
Possible Adverse Reactions
In my 8 years of professional encapsulation, none of my clients have experienced adverse reactions.
I have however seen two or three others say they experienced things such as: headache, heart palpitations, and stomach ache.
What does this mean for you?
Like many other decisions you have been making surrounding your pregnancy, birth and parenting, the choice to ingest your placenta is one that should be done after research. This is a supplement. You will still need to take certain measures to maintain your milk supply, it is normal and healthy to bleed after birth, and it is normal to have some mood fluctuation in those first few months. Many sources suggest that the placenta can offer no adverse effects of its own, but rather it can agitate underlying issues. Most placenta specialists offer this advise- if you begin to notice undesirable side effects and believe the placenta capsules are a contributing factor- discontinue use until the symptoms subside. Once you resume taking the capsules, you should be able to determine if they are the culprit.
Having realistic expectations is essential. Paying attention to your body is essential as well. Be sure to entrust someone who is properly trained and is dedicated to the professionalism of processing placentas. If you have concerns your specialist should be able to answer them or reach out to their organization to clarify on tricky topics.
In recent years the art of placentophagy, or ingesting your placenta, has grown among birthing women. Many are eager to experience the potential benefits that it has to offer, benefits such as: reduced postpartum bleeding, increasing iron stores, increased breastmilk supply, and hormonal balancing. Still though, many remain undecided.
One of the main reasons typically encountered is due to the "ick" factor. The placenta is an organ. It has an intricate system of veins, many different types of tissues, and blood. It is very understandable why this may hold some people back. The encapsulation process will render you capsules that contain a course powder, similar to coffee grounds. Some placenta specialists have flavored capsules as well to further help make them more palatable.
Another perspective of this situation is that you only get one opportunity with this placenta. If you are uncertain, our placenta specialist wants to give you some basic guidelines so that should you choose to encapsulate at a later time, your placenta will still be good to use.
First, let your partner, midwife or care provider know that you intend to keep your placenta.
Second, have supplies ready. If you are birthing at home a gallon sized freezer bag will work. If birthing in a birth center or hospital, they usually have a container that they put it in for you. Be sure to check ahead of time.
Third and perhaps most important: Timing! As mentioned, the placenta is an organ. It is capable of spoilage and contamination. The placenta can remain at room temperature for approximately 3 hours. This is more than ample time to enjoy that first "golden hour" with baby, massage that vernix in, and oversee any tests you opt for. Once the excitement begins to wind down and the cord has been cut, the placenta can be transferred to its container. From there, you'll want to place the container in the freezer. This allows you a much longer window of making your decision. We highly recommend using gallon freezer Ziploc bags and double bagging. If the placenta is in a plastic container from a facility, you can place the container into the Ziploc bag. The placenta could remain frozen for several months if packaged properly, but for optimal benefits for mom ingestion should begin within the first week of postpartum.
Quick Recap: Let your birth team know you intend to keep the placenta, have gallon sized freezer bags (2) available, and put the placenta into the freezer!
This method keeps the placenta from forming bacteria or becoming spoiled and allows you to make a final decision on if you would like to enjoy the benefits of placenta encapsulation! If you should choose that encapsulation is not for you, keep in mind that it is illegal in most (if not all) states to dispose of the placenta in the public waste system. Most families who are conscious of the value of the placenta but not interested in ingestion choose to bury the placenta and plant something of meaning above it.
We hope this helps lessen all the decisions you will be making in those final weeks of pregnancy and early weeks of your postpartum. You can always contact us with any questions you have about the process!