The Atlanta Doula Blog
Blogging about all things pregnancy, birth, and postpartum
As a doula and childbirth educator, I am frequently asked about placenta encapsulation. Many clients want to know what the benefits are, and whether or not there are any risks involved. Oftentimes they've heard things from friends or through a google search and need help sorting out the truth from the myths.
Today I'm going answer 5 of the most commonly asked questions as well as 5 of the most common concerns surrounding placenta encapsulation.
Will encapsulating my placenta help me avoid a postpartum mood disorder?
One of the most common reasons why women are interested in placenta encapsulation is because they have heard that it will help them transition into the postpartum period easier. Many women feel that encapsulating their placenta was a major factor in avoiding or helping ease the symptoms of PPD. According to a 2012 article in the British Journal of Midwifery, the placenta is found to contain Iron, Vitamin B6, and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH.) Having adequate iron levels is crucial in avoiding fatigue, especially since research has shown many new moms to be iron deficient. Vitamin B6 supplementation is currently used to help treat the symptoms of PPD while CRH is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus that is crucial to reducing stress.
Will encapsulating my placenta help with fatigue?
Many women are considered iron deficient or anemic during pregnancy; and even those who are not may develop anemia following childbirth because of the amount of blood lost during this process. The placenta contains large amounts of iron and many women report an energy boost associated with taking their placenta capsules.
Will encapsulating my placenta help to increase my milk supply?
Historically, placenta consumption has been reported to help increase milk supply. Many women report that following the encapsulation of their placenta the quantity of their milk increases. According to a 1954 study from Charles University in Prague, 86% of women who were supplementing with placenta capsules reported a positive effect on their milk supply, as opposed to just 33% in the control group, who were receiving beef capsules.
What if my baby is pre-term or past his/her due date? Can I still encapsulate?
Yes! The timing of your baby's arrival has little to do with the suitability of your placenta for consumption. Even if your care provider has commented that your placenta has some calcifications it is still perfectly fine to encapsulate.
What else can my placenta do for me?
There is a molecule present in amniotic fluid and in the placenta called placental opioid-enhancing factor, or POEF. Studies have shown than POEF actually help to enhance the effects of both external opioids (ie morphine) as well as the endorphins being released by the body.
Don't animals consume their placentas to hide their birth from predators?
This is a common myth that has been proven false many a time. Aside from marine mammals, almost all of mammals in the wild consume their placentas regardless of whether they have a single delivery or litter. Even mammals at the top of the food chain consume their placentas immediately following birth. In fact, if the animal was truly trying to hide the birth site from predators, it would be easier and faster just to move away from the birthing location than to take hours consuming the placenta.
But I'm a vegetarian/vegan
That's great, I'm a vegetarian too! This is your own placenta that you grew and birthed. It is intrinsically different from eating meat. You will be consuming your placenta in pill form, with nothing else added to it. It is important to note that I only use vegetarian capsules, never capsules with animal gelatin.
I've heard that placentas contain bacteria and toxins
This isn't exactly true. This quote from Nikole Keller, in an article written for The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA) sums the topic up nicely:
"The placenta is often referred to as a filter; this isn’t an ideal term for the placenta considering its function in the body. As consumers we use filters in daily life to remove unwanted particles and toxins then throwing them into the trash once they have reached capacity. The placenta does not function as a filter in this sense, a more suitable way of viewing it would be as a gatekeeper between the mother and fetus. The placenta’s job is to keep the maternal and fetal blood separate, at the same time allowing nutrients to pass to the fetus, gas exchange to occur, and allowing waste from the fetus to pass through to the mother. The placenta does prevent some toxins from passing through to the fetus but they are not stored in the placenta. Toxins in the body and waste from the fetus are processed by the mother’s liver and kidneys for elimination."
You can read the rest of the article here
Will the same nutrients remain in my placenta once it is processed?
Yes! Your placenta will be steamed, ground, and filled into capsules. The process of steaming removes water, not nutrients from your placenta.
But what if my baby passed meconium before birth?
No worries! Your placenta will be thoroughly cleaned and dehydrated prior to encapsulation. Meconium absolutely does not affect the ability to encapsulate.
Are you looking to have your placenta encapsulated in the metro Atlanta area? Do you have more questions about placenta encapsulation? Feel free to contact me for more information or to book my services!
Atlanta birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, cloth diaper expect, yoga enthusiast, and baby snuggler.