This installment in our "ABC" series is all about (placenta) encapsulation! Missed the last few?
I admit that when I first learned about placenta encapsulation, I was...skeptical. Maybe a little grossed out? Who (and why) would someone want to take this disposable organ and ingest it?
As it turns out, there is a long history and even some science behind it. We realize this may not be for everyone though, so feel free to keep scrolling if this isn't the article for you!
This is not intended to be medical advice.
First off, lets briefly recap what a placenta is:
The placenta is a temporary organ that connects your baby to your uterus during pregnancy. The placenta develops shortly after conception and attaches to the wall of your uterus. Your baby is connected to the placenta by the umbilical cord. Together, the placenta and umbilical cord act as your baby's lifeline while in the uterus. -Cleveland Clinic
The placenta is commonly referred to as the "afterbirth", because it, well, comes after the birth, usually within 15-60 minutes, if left to it's own devices. This is called the "third stage of labor" and involves a complex series of hormonal and physiological responses that ultimately expel the placenta, halt the bleeding, and signal to your body that it should start kicking up the milk production.
Once the placenta is delivered, your OB (or midwife) will check it thoroughly to make sure every bit of it was expelled. Why? Even a tiny bit of retained placenta can disrupt the chemical response in your body and cause quite a few issues.
After that, it's usually taken along with the used medical supplies and soiled linens to be disposed of.
Unless, of course, you have researched it and decided you want to bring it home and get it encapsulated.
What kinds of benefits are women looking to achieve?
The main reasons mothers cited for use are:
- Potentially reduces postpartum anxiety or depression
-Source of trace minerals and vitamins
-Source of beneficial hormones
What do the studies say? Well, a lot of women reported benefits, even from placebos.
Researchers don't think that it's the optimal source of iron, (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27809380/) but it does contain "modest" amounts of trace minerals (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27440542/
It does contain hormones (like progesterone) in levels that could potentially have real physiological effects. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27324105/ )
A lot of women decide to use "placenta pills" simply because of anecdotal evidence from close friends or family who felt it had positive impacts.
We look forward to upcoming research projects in this field and cannot wait to see what they learn!
Let's say you're convinced, and you're ready to give it a try. What's the next step?
It's always a good idea to line up the service ahead of time. Many companies will schedule a fixed number of clients each month. So ring them up, sooner rather than later!
RB&B has several trusted sources for this: https://www.richmondbirthandbaby.com/placenta-encapsulation
How do I go about bringing my placenta home?
When you head to the hospital during labor, we recommend bringing a small lunchbox or cooler. If there is time while checking in, mention your desires to the nurse or other staff so they can make a note of it in the chart. There are some cultures and religions that dispose of the placenta in unique ways, so it shouldn't be too unusual.
After you've delivered your baby (and placenta), ask someone from your birth team to place in a sterile medical storage bag and placed on ice in your cooler. We recommend reaching out immediately (within 24 hrs) to the company you've chosen to receive and process it for you.
They will steam it, dehydrate it, grind it into a fine powder, and then place it neatly into capsules. The amount of capsules produced will vary, but the average is anywhere from 100-200!
Turnaround time is 2-7 days, but it's always best to communicate and mention any special circumstances. They will also be able to give you personalized advice on dosage and schedule.
What are about you? Did you encapsulate your placenta? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments!