Placenta encapsulation is not a black and white issue. I encourage you to research the topic at length before deciding to have your placenta encapsulated. Start here with some basic concepts, I will be adding further resources to this post in the coming weeks for you to consider.
What is Placenta Encapsulation?
Placenta encapsulation is the process of dehydrating the placenta to be ground up, put in capsules, and taken by a new mother in the postpartum period.
What are the Potential Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation?
The placenta is thought to be rich in iron, protein, and vitamin B6 as well as an important hormone called Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH). CRH is a stress reducing hormone that exists in high levels during the third trimester, but after birth the levels are lower than normal. This may be part of the hormonal imbalance behind the baby blues experienced by 80% of women in the first few weeks postpartum. Thus, placenta encapsulation may reduce, and even prevent, the baby blues in the first two to three weeks postpartum. Some also believe that placenta encapsulation may protect against postpartum depression for some mothers, though no solid research has been done to demonstrate these effects. Placenta medicine may reduce bleeding, aid in healing following birth, and result in faster uterine involution. Taking encapsulated placenta may also help to replenish iron stores following the birth and could increase energy and feelings of wellness in the postpartum period. At the very least, women who take placenta capsules report that their postpartum healing was much quicker and their energy levels higher following the birth than it was for previous births.
What Placenta Encapsulation IS NOT
Placenta encapsulation has never been proven through research to provide the above benefits. Some research exists which has been strictly anecdotal and subjective. We cannot guarantee either the effectiveness of encapsulation for each woman, her specific results, or any particular outcomes. Despite using excellent sanitation precautions, we also cannot guarantee that the placenta itself does not harbor potentially harmful pathogens which cannot be eliminated at any heat or by any means.
Placenta encapsulation is NOT a cure all. It is our philosophy at Family Way Birth & Baby, LLC that women need support and encouragement in the postpartum period in order to feel their best as new mothers. Encapsulation may offer some additional biochemical support, but it likely is not a cure for underlying psychological disorders which may be unmasked during the first days and weeks, sometimes months, after a baby is born.
Is there any reason a placenta cannot be encapsulated?
Yes. If you have had a fever during your labor (not associated with epidural use, which causes an elevation in maternal temperature) it is possible you have an infection. In this case we are unable to encapsulate the placenta as it may make you ill. If you have a known case of chorioamnionitis, if the placenta looks diseased in any way or has an unusual, foul smell, we cannot encapsulate it. If your placenta arrives and I have concerns about encapsulating it, I will refund your deposit and return the placenta to you so that it may be disposed of in a way that you see fit.
What if I Haven’t Contacted You Before the Birth?
No big deal, just make sure you've refrigerated the placenta, call me, and I will do my best to come to you as soon as possible. Understand that because I am not “on call” for your placenta previously, I may not be able to get to you as quickly.
The process of encapsulating a fresh placenta should be started within 72 hours after the birth, so you should contact me as soon as you are able to following your birth to make arrangements to begin the encapsulation. If you are not able to get the fresh placenta to me within 72 hours, be sure to freeze it right away so that it does not spoil. If you do this, be sure to use double-zip freezer bags, the gallon size, and remove all the excess air. It should be frozen within about an hour of its birth if possible, but at least kept in the fridge until it is frozen, no later than 72 hours after birth