What is the world is placenta encapsulation? And why would anyone want to do it?
Truthfully, when I was pregnant for the first time, I wanted nothing to do with the placenta. I knew it was a necessary organ which sustained my baby. But I had no desire to know anything about it, nor to even see it.
Imagine my surprise when I found out during my second pregnancy about all the potential health benefits that are contained in a placenta…even after your baby is born. Keep reading to learn more!
In the wild, a lot of animals eat the placentas after giving birth. Partially it’s survival — they need to eat/clean up all evidence of recent birth, so that any predators don’t find out where they are and come to steal and prey on their young. But there are other reasons, too: health benefits to the mother from consuming the placenta.
Yes, I know: we aren’t animals. Which is why no one’s expecting you to pick up the placenta after your baby’s born and just take a bite. But there are significant health benefits to consuming the placenta, and encapsulation is much more palatable way to do this.
Why eat the placenta?
- It contains lots of nutrients and hormones
- It can help to balance your hormones and eliminate postpartum depression
- It can increase energy
- It can reduce your postpartum healing time
- It can increase your milk supply
- It can reduce symptoms at menopause
Yes…a simple placenta can do all that!
Although there is little to no research in this area, women who have encapsulated their placentas have reported much less postpartum depression than other women. Some women who have suffered from postpartum depression have specifically had their placentas encapsulated in future pregnancies to avoid it — successfully. Women I’ve personally talked to felt no specific emotional highs or lows following their babies’ births; they also recovered very quickly.
Since, again, most women don’t want to just eat the placenta as it is — or even stewed placenta (yes, some do this) — encapsulation is a good solution. Here’s about how it works:
1) The placenta is taken by an encapsulation specialist as soon as possible after the birth is complete (this process is ideally completed in 48 hours)
2) The placenta is rinsed thoroughly until all the blood is gone (water will run clear)
3) The placenta is cut into strips and put it an oven on low, or into a dehydrator
4) The strips are dried for several hours until they are no longer moist at all
5) The strips are then ground into a powder, and put into capsules
The number of capsules varies widely depending on the size of the placenta. It can vary from 100 – 300, averaging around 150 (according to a specialist I once talked to). These capsules can be kept for several weeks on the counter, or in a deep freezer indefinitely.
It is recommended that women take 1 – 3 every few hours in the early days, slowly weaning off the capsules as they feel better. (One theory is that the sudden drop in both estrogen and progesterone when a baby is born is responsible for postpartum depression. The placenta capsules replace these hormones. Stopping them suddenly can result in a similar drop in hormones, which is why weaning off them is recommended.)
Any leftover capsules can be kept in the deep freezer for future use — after other births, or during menopause. They can also be given to direct relatives — mother, sister, or daughters — for use. So if your mother is going through menopause and you have placenta capsules, she can take them for relief! You can keep them for your own menopause as well, down the road.
Finding an encapsulation specialist isn’t that easy, but this site has some options. There are people certified to do this. It can cost around $150 to have it done. There are also home kits you can buy to do it yourself. When it comes to do-it-yourself, just remember that you will be very tired and sore and it needs to be done immediately; and that the placenta needs to be properly stored (in the fridge or freezer) until you can get to it. It’s not unlike any other organ meat from an animal; it needs to be chilled to prevent bacterial growth.
Although I did not do this after my second pregnancy (I was much more curious about the placenta, but had not yet heard about encapsulation), I do hope to do it this time. The idea of an easier few weeks, with less crying and feeling overwhelmed sounds really nice to me!
Would you ever consider encapsulating your placenta? Why or why not?
Top image by neoliminal