A lot of women struggle with postpartum depression (PPD) and often resort to pharmaceuticals to help. There's also the consideration of the fact that we, as humans, are mammals ... and there are certain things that mammals do that are undeniably beneficial.
One of those things is the fact that mammals eat the placenta after child birth. Whether you're disgusted by it or not, there's no denying that it's packed full of beneficial nutrients and hormones and helps the mother recover from childbirth.
But let's face it -- few people are going to want to sit down to Placenta Steak. In fact, I distinctly remember seeing a show about it once, and my best friend gagged to the point of fear of puking at the visual (to be fair, she was 13 at the time). However, there is another way to get the benefits of the placenta, without ever actually having to touch it yourself.
I talked to Cindy of Euphoric Birth Services about making placenta pills.
What is placenta encapsulation, and where did you learn to do it?
Placenta encapsulation is the process of encapsulating a placenta through steaming, dehydrating, grinding dehydrated placenta into a power, and filling capsules. Ingesting the placenta in any form is called placentophagy.
I am self-taught. Placenta encapsulation is not regulated and there is no required course you must take prior to offering this service. However I did attend a short workshop taught by Cornelia Enning, author of the book Placenta: The Gift of Life, last year in Denmark while attending an international midwifery conference. In addition to that I'm a professionally trained chef. If I can make croissant dough, which is tedious and takes all day, I figure I can certainly steam, dehydrate, and grind a placenta. LOL. While attending culinary college, I took a sanitation course. I've also taken a online course for blood-borne pathogens, specifically for encapsulation.
Why would someone want their placenta in capsules?
There are many reasons why one would want to partake in the numerous benefits of placentophagy. Pregnancy is taxing on the body, even if the mother follows the best of health regimes. The theory behind placentophagy is that you're returning the nutrients lost during the birth process back to the body to aide in quick and smooth postpartum recovery.
The benefits of placenta encapsulation include:
The placenta's hormonal make-up is completely unique to the mother. No prescription, vitamin, or herbal supplement can do what one placenta pill can. How amazing is that?
What would you say to someone who thinks it's disgusting or weird?
Usually to the people that are disgusted by the thought of placentophagy, I tell them they would have to take five to six different prescription pharmaceutical meds, each of them with a slew of side effects. Some of them potentially fatal side effects. A placenta pill is hormonally unique to a person's body, therefore having NO side effects. I also tell them there is past and current research being done that proves the tremendous benefits of placentophagy.
The reality very few companies are going to fund research on this because it will prove to be true. Therefore it could seriously bring a hurting to the pharmaceutical industry. Just imagine they would take a hit when it comes to RX meds for: depression, insomnia, anemia, breast milk increase, fatigue, etc. Especially considering 1 in 8 women will suffer from postpartum depression, it is of serious nature. I've had clients with a history of PPD that allowed me the honor to encapsulated their placenta and it prevented PPD from occurring after the next birth. What a wonderful thing!
What would a new mom have to do with the placenta to make sure it was usable?
Shortly after birth within a few hours the placenta should be kept refrigerated or put in an ice cooler. The encapsulation process is started 3 to 4 days after birth. If she is having a hospital birth normally they put it in saline and/or formaldehyde; this renders the placenta no longer suitable for encapsulation. Women who have had epidurals, c-sections, meconium-stained placentas, etc. are still able to have their placenta encapsulated.
There are only a few medical conditions where the placenta would not be suitable for encapsulation, like moms with communicable diseases like Hep A, Hep B, Hep C, and HIV/AIDS.
Lastly moms that froze their placenta can still have it encapsulated, ideally within 6 months would be ideal. But 12 months in a deep freezer would also be fine. The benefits are most useful immediately postpartum rather than months later.
If someone wanted to try this, how would they look for someone to encapsulate their placenta?
Also e-mail doulas and homebirth midwives in your area to ask if they offer this service or know someone who does.
Have you or would you have your placenta encapsulated?
Images via Cindy of Euphoric Birth Services