Wait, wait. Don’t go running for the hills just yet. I promise it really isn’t as gross or taboo as it seems. Placenta encapsulation is something I never considered doing before until this pregnancy. Maybe I’m getting a little more ‘crunchy’ as each baby comes along but there seem to be so many benefits with consuming your placenta the more I look into it. With the help of a fellow doula and blogger Courtney, I decided to research more about the topic to make a decision on my choice.
Many and almost all continents around the world view the placenta as ‘a spiritual force of life’, to be treated with the utmost respect and care. Nearly all cultures participate in some sort of ceremony in regards to the placenta. Take Asia for example, Asians view the placenta as a twin or guardian for the child throughout his or her’s life and its buried by the father.
Korea burns the placenta and is given to an ill child in an attempt to heal.
Afterbirth is considered sacred even in North America to the Navajo Indians and in Hawaii. From being buried with an object to symbolize a future occupation to being buried with a tree to maintain their ‘roots’.
It was Li Shizhen who first wrote about the afterbirth or placenta as a remedy that dates clear back to the 1500’s and being published in Traditional Chinese Medicine- Materia Medica. Zi-he-chi (placenta) in Chinese translates literally to ‘Purple Liver Vehicle’. Shizhen noted placenta abilities to tonify the lungs, liver, increase milk supply, treat infertility- the list goes on.
Encapsulating the placenta is done by either steaming followed by dehydrating or simply dehydrating the raw placenta and then grounding it down into a powder. The powder is then put into capsules for consumption.
There are different opinions on how the placenta should be prepared and it really comes down to a matter of opinion. Some claim that steaming the placenta allows for any bacteria to be killed while allowing the placenta to keep nutrients viable. Others believe dehydrating the placenta in its raw state is said to keep its benefits more pure and potent.
I’ve personally read a couple different articles on each matter and I’m leaning toward the “raw” method of no steaming and straight to dehydration. Though a specialist could help me change my mind when it comes down to it. I just want to make sure I’m getting the most nutrients I can to reap the benefits. By the way, to find a certified placenta encapsulation specialist in your area, check out find placenta encapsulation.
Courtney personally took to the steamed, dehydrated and encapsulated method. It took no longer than an evening of her time. She did it, she encapsulated her own placenta! This is not something I would be able to do because one, I think it would gross me out, and two, I will be in the hospital for 3-4 days postpartum. However, you can follow her step by step instructions on how to encapsulate your placenta here.
Other Ways of Consuming Your Placenta
Ingesting it Raw
Of course, the most obvious way of consuming the placenta is in its raw form. Nearly every mammal eats its placenta. Though this is a lesser chosen way of ingesting it, it is thought to be very beneficial. Many women have consumed their raw placenta, after being thoroughly washed of course. This is personally something I would never be able to do.
A tincture is essentially an extract, think vanilla extract for baking. It’s made by extracting or dissolving the nutrients in alcohol. This is a method that can go a long way. A tincture can be used for years to come. Some common way to use tinctures is in a liquid (drink, soup, smoothie, etc) or even on a wound. The tincture is said to be very beneficial for treating menopause and PMS symptoms. Adding on a tincture to my placenta encapsulation is definitely something I am open to.
Placenta edibles are simply foods like chocolate truffles or smoothies. This preparation is more common today as it seems to take away the fact that you’re ‘eating your placenta’- though it’s really not that bad. Most specialists offer this option while preparing your placenta into whatever form you wish to consume it in. Funny enough, earlier today a mom blew up on snapchat while she was snapping herself making her placenta into chocolates.
Whichever method you decide, it’s best that the placenta is ingested within or day 3 postpartum. This is when the surge of hormones hit and your milk begins to come in.
Some of the most common benefits of consuming your placenta include:
Restoration of iron – during childbirth and after our bodies lose a large amount of blood. Consuming the placenta aids in lowered iron levels. Low iron levels have been linked to fatigue, irritability and postpartum depression.
Oxytocin release – This is an essential hormone aids in pain relief and bonding with our babies. It counteracts the production of stress hormones and greatly reduces postpartum bleeding.
Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone – Regulation of CRH helps prevent depression.
Prostaglandins – causes contractions in our uterus and helps the uterus to return to its normal size after delivery.
Prolactin – Promotes lactation and increases your milk supply.
“I first discovered placenta encapsulation when I found out we were expecting our second child. After the birth of my first born, I was left in a deep, dark and scary depression. I found myself having trouble getting out of bed for weeks on end. With the help of my husband, I was able to put a routine to my new mommy life and eventually crawl out of my depression. It was within my endless searching for ways to pull myself out, that I came across placenta encapsulation. Over the counter prescriptions and medicines are something I stay away from so when I came across this ‘natural remedy’ I was intrigued.
I decided that the after the birth of our next baby, encapsulating my placenta was something I definitely wanted to try. I had my hospital bag packed my birth plan in order and my nurses on standby to keep my placenta after my delivery. It was merely a form I had to sign and that baby was mine. Well, the baby and the placenta.
No kidding, within 2 days it was like the floodgates opened and my milk was IN. This was my second baby that I breastfed so it was something I was familiar with but never with such ease.
Other than my milk coming in with such ease, it wasn’t like any major signs stood out that this was really working. It wasn’t until about two weeks in that I realized that I wasn’t a complete and total hormonal wreck. I slept, I ate, I didn’t stress the little things I had no control over. I now had two babies and I was totally handling it- like a boss.
The fear of my placenta wearing off was always there. Was it too good to be true? How much longer will it last? Then the 3-month postpartum mark hit, which is when I found myself drowning in depression with my first born and yet, I was still fine this time around. Being a mother of two tiny babies, by myself and home alone with them during the day was doable. My hormones felt, for once- stable.
Around three months with my first born, my hair started falling out in handfuls. I’m talking about scary hair loss. This time around post-placenta, the most hair I had fall out was a few strands when I brushed it.
It really did work!
Placenta encapsulation was without a doubt an absolute lifesaver for me. So much so that I went on to become certified in placenta encapsulation so that I could help other mother’s struggling with whatever postpartum issues they may be having.
We are now four kids deep (3 that I delivered) and I now find my husband making sure that encapsulation is always on my to-do list.”
Though I’m still deciding on which specialist I want to use, I have officially adding placenta encapsulation to my birth plan this go around!
Have you ever consumed your placenta? Will you in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts!