Tag Archives: placenta encapsulation

Hearts and Charts….

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In the last two posts, I’ve discussed what the process of encapsulation is, and what some of the reported benefits are. As a doula, I always encourage my clients to research the many choices they have as they move through pregnancy, birth, and beyond. So, why does placenta encapsulation put me with one foot in the world of research (that of charts), and one foot in the intuition of generations of mothers (that of the heart)?

As a placenta specialist, I am convinced that my service is completed in a safe and sanitary way, and I can in good conscience offer it to interested women. I advise them to be aware the of the risks and benefits, and that I can’t guarantee either. However, the moms who have chosen this route have responded positively, by and large, and that is something that, while the evidence cannot yet prove, it cannot yet disprove! Their intuition, and the tradition of perhaps centuries of women, led them not to discard their placenta as medical waste, but rather as a postpartum benefit to them, and through them, to their newborn child. (Did you know that all mammals regularly consume their placentas, except humans and camels?)

Opinion is a bit divided on exactly when placenta remedies began to be used, but it appears the earliest *written* record is in the 16th century (Young and Benyshek, 49). Medieval German texts call the placenta “mother’s bread” and various recipes relate on how to prepare it (Enning, 2).

Though called for by mothers, researchers, and birth professionals, current research in Western medicine on placentophagy is just not sizable – at all. There have been anecdotal studies (which I will link to below), there have been non-human mammalian studies, but no controlled studies until recently, the results of which are soon to be published (keep on eye on the University of Nevada – Las Vegas website, where results of the first controlled study are currently in the peer review process, as I understand.)

Where does that leave you in the choices you are free to make? Relating to me personally: I did not consume my placenta after my first four children were born. I had an abundant milk supply, and was blessed not to struggle with postpartum depression. After my fifth was born, I prepared my placenta in capsule form, and noted a marked difference. Less bleeding, more stable mood, and milk supply remained abundant (in fact, so abundant that, at three weeks, I achieved the benefit I thought the pills could give me, and I discontinued their use). That is just one anecdotal account — the one that drove me to offer this service.

I have worked with clients who struggled with both of these issues, among others, and were relieved, either in part, or entirely, from them. Some clients, while experiencing a benefit, still needed the support of additional medications, either for mood, or milk production.

Until more research is done and concluded, you may feel like me — we take what we can from the research, and the other part comes from intuition and tradition, and trust that the process is safe and sanitary and performed with due care.  Heart and Chart — they play a dual role in our decision making process.

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Research links:

From above: *In the journal Ecology of Food and Medicine, researchers from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, surveyed close to 200 women who had chosen to consume their own placentas, in various forms. The response from the women’s self-reporting was overwhelmingly positive, with 76 % saying they experienced benefits, and few, if any side effects. The study’s authors summarized,

“Our survey participants generally reported some type of perceived benefit from the practice, felt that their postpartum experience with placentophagy was a positive one, and overwhelmingly indicated that they would engage in placentophagy again after subsequent pregnancies (UNLV research by Selander and Young).”

Enning, Cornelia (2007) Placenta: Gift of Life, MotherBaby Press, Eugene Oregon. 2007.

Young, Sharon; Benyshek, Daniel (2010). “In Search of Human Placentophagy: A Cross-Cultural Survey of Human Placenta Consumption, Disposal Practices, and Cultural Beliefs”. Ecology of Food and Nutrition (Taylor & Francis Online) 49

“Steamed, Dehydrated, or Raw”, article summarizing UNLV study, accessed at the following address: https://news.unlv.edu/article/steamed-dehydrated-or-raw-placentas-may-help-moms%E2%80%99-post-partum-health, June 23, 2015

Café Stir, http://thestir.cafemom.com/celebrity_moms/181421/celebrity_moms_ate_placenta, accessed June 16, 2015

Would you Eat Your Placenta? These Four women did. Originally appeared in http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/4828468/Would-you-eat-your-placenta-All-of-these-women-did.html; accessed on July 23, 2015, via PlacentaWise.com

Placenta Pills Gain Fans, Tara Haelle, June 4, 2015. Accessed at: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/04/411990944/placenta-pills-gain-fans-among-new-moms-but-benefits-are-elusive, on June 23rd, 2015

 

The Process of Encapsulation

Encapsulation

If you have read the previous post about reported benefits of my past encapsulation clients, you might be wondering about what the actual process is, and if you might complete it yourself. What are the benefits to having a placenta specialist, like me, prepare your placenta so you might experience the wonderful benefits postpartum?

Encapsulation on your own definitely can be done – I have done it! However, it does take time away from a postpartum mama’s most IMPORTANT work: resting and relaxing with her child and letting others care for her! (Not to mention getting breastfeeding well established, if that is the feeding method of choice).

However, as a placenta specialist now, I really recommend moms to check out area encapsulators. Ask questions about their practice, including knowing what their process is from start to finish.  Hiring a reputable and experience specialist takes the work off your hands.

Placentophogy, that is, consuming ones placenta, has been practiced in various cultures throughout child-bearing history. We in the US are starting to hear more about it (thanks Kim Kardashian! ;-)) and are curious.

Is this safe? Has it been studied? What are the risks and benefits? I will be addressing these question in my next placenta post.

But, back to process itself.  What are your first considerations with the option to encapsulate?

Well, the process begins during pregnancy. The service I provide to my encapsulation clients begins within filling out an initial form, which covers a few health related questions to ensure encapsulation is a reasonable and safe choice. It also covers basic contact information, as well as due date information. I am on-call for my clients from the time of signing of our agreement, and this includes payment and logistical arrangements. This includes providing a set of clear written instructions for keeping your placenta cool and safe until I arrive to pick it up from you. I also offer a cooler for this purpose, which my clients may opt to use (and I include my instructions and contact information within the cooler, so you don’t have to worry about printing an extra copy, when you already have other things to remember and focus on in this exciting time!). I also can provide guidance about talking with your care provider about your choice to encapsulate, if you have any questions.

When Baby arrives, my clients call or text me within the first 6 hours after birth, preferrably. I will make arrangements to pick up your placenta. If you’re in the hopsital, you will be asked to sign a release form before your placenta leaves. I generally ask Dad or another friend/family member to meet me in the lobby of the hospital. This leaves you free to rest and relax, which is so important!

My process of encapsulation begins with cleaning and sanitizing all my equipment. I have taken an OSHA-approved Blood Born Pathogen training, which includes the proper method to keep all my equipment, which is specific to my encapsulation service and is not used in any other way or for any other purpose, clean and safe for my clients. Even if I am processing multiple placentas within a short time frame, each client is assured that there is no cross-contamination as I only process one at a time, and my safety measures ensure sanitation is well-attended to.

Then, a gentle rinse of the placenta (and, if a tincture is desired, a small piece is removed and placed in the tincture bottle with quality grain alcohol). followed by steaming over a bed of sliced jalapeno, ginger, and lemon. The size of the placenta decreases by about half or more during this time. The placenta is removed, and the liquid can be strained and retained as ‘Mother’s Broth’, which has uses of its own. (See my ‘A La Carte Encapsulation options’ for options on small pieces for smoothies, tinctures, mothers broth, and more!)

After allowing time for cooling, I thinly slice the placenta, and it goes into the dehydrator. I periodically check for doneness until the placenta is fully dehydrated.

Again, allowing time for cooling first, then the placenta is ground into a fine powder. I hand-fill each capsule with care, and place them in a clean jar. Your jar is labeled with name and date, and a dosage pamphlet is provided for your guidance.

Though your capsules are now complete, my work is not done yet! I take care to thoroughly clean and sanitize my equipment before re-packing it for storage until my next client welcomes her Baby.

Finally, I deliver the capsules, and explain the general dosage guidelines. I am available for questions anytime via phone, text, or email.

I invite my clients to complete a short survey with their experience at some point, a number of weeks after their capsules are delivered. This information helps me learn and grow as a specialist! I remind my clients that I am not a medical professional, but that I am a reliable, clean, and safe specialist performing a wonderful postpartum service for mothers, the benefits of which can truly radiate to the whole family.

When Mama is happy, everyone is happy!

To see if I am available for your due date range, please contact me today!
Sincerely,

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Placenta Power

Placenta Power (1)

 

What is Placenta Encapsulation all about? Isn’t the placenta just a piece of medical waste, a bi-product of birth?

Traditional wisdom would inform us otherwise.

Though it remains a personal decision whether or not to ingest one’s placenta, there is a body of anecdotal and some research evidence that suggests great benefits to this long-standing practice or using the placenta in postpartum remedies.

Here are 5 reasons you might want to consider putting your placenta into capsules after your birth:

1. Increased energy/improved mood

Moms who ingest their placentas commonly report feeling happier, less apt to have wildly fluctuating moods, and better able to deal with the demands of motherhood+.

2. Less postpartum bleeding, aiding a faster recovery

Postpartum bleeding is reported to decrease+. That means more blood (and the nutrients, especially iron) staying in your body. That, in turn, aligns with number 1 – you feel more energized and happier.

3. Helpful to milk production/increase milk production

After your milk comes in, you can begin taking your capsules. They are believed to contain hormones that are beneficial to milk production. Mothers who have their placentas encapsulated typically report increased milk production+.

4. Improved iron levels

Iron is one nutrient we know is retained in the encapsulation process (among others). If your blood loss was slight or significant at the time of birth, the capsules can help. Mothers whose iron has decreased during pregnancy, which is not uncommon, have reported that their iron levels have increased steadily (again, see #1 – iron is very important!)

5. Good stewardship

The placenta is an amazing organ, a hand-crafted life support system for your baby, that can continue to nourish YOU, mama, after your little one arrives. Rather than discard it as waste, you can choose to encapsulate it, or there are other options to honor what your body created, such as planting the placenta under a tree or bush to commemorate you and your baby’s efforts and new life!

 

Is encapsulation right for you? Are you interested in the benefits above? I’d be happy to talk with you about the range of options available to you, all of which I can assist you with as your doula or placenta specialist.

Sincerely,

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+reported benefits of my past clients, and anecdotal reports from a survey of postpartum mothers. The research into encapsulation is ongoing, please talk with me about papers and studies you may be interested in reading as you make your informed decision. This post, and my services, are not intended to diagnose or treat any illness and condition. The benefits experienced are individual, and not guaranteed.