Placenta Encapsulation

Okay, here’s the sitch.

Placentophagy is when a mammal consumes the placenta from its offspring. Most animals do it with a few exceptions like camels, but camels are assholes so we all know that doesn’t count.

It was first thought that animals did this to remove any trace of birth to ward off predators but nutritional value seems to be the thinking now. Generally speaking, we’re a well fed bunch so it’s unlikely we’d need to eat this because there’s no peanut butter around. They have also studied the reaction of animals if the placenta was with held after birth and the animals weren’t too miffed about it and didn’t reject their young.

That said, placenta consumption has been going on for centuries as there are thought to be a plethora of benefits such as future fertility, speeding up labor, reducing fertility in men, more energy, quicker recovery, increased milk production, pain relief and preventing post partum depression.

Proponents of placentophagy believe that it helps offset the sharp decrease in hormones after birth because it has a whole host of hormones, vitamins and minerals in it, and it’s rich in both iron and protein.

While many women claim to have benefited from eating their placenta, the biggest concern is that placenta capsule suppliers are making medical claims that have not been scientifically proven. There’s also not a lot of research supporting the preservation of all that placenta-goodness once you cook it, grind it up, and pop it in a pill, or if there’s even any benefit from eating it crouched in a corner hissing, for that matter.

There are no inherent dangers from ingesting your placenta whether you cook it, encapsulate it or eat it like a giant oyster with horseradish but it should be handled and treated like any other meat (that sounds kind of gross but it is what it is).

Hospitals treat the placenta as human waste and consider it a biohazard because it is full of blood. Because of this, you may have to kick up a stink to get your placenta if you give birth in a hospital. In 2007 a Las Vegas court sided with a mother who sued her hospital for the right to have her placenta after an emergency Caesarean section – “I’ll take that to go, thank you very much.”

As for cost, you can do it yourself for about $75 but I didn’t feel like making toast after giving birth, let alone encapsulating my placenta, so I don’t know if you’ll feel up to it. To have it shipped off and done for you, lands somewhere around the $200 mark so it isn’t cheap but it isn’t outrageous either. They send them back in tidy, little capsules and you take them over the next few months.

I have to admit, when I first heard about this I thought it sounded freaky and something that only rich hippies would do, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw the logic in it. It’s like one of those informercials that I think, “Oh, that is just useless” at the beginning of the ad, then I’m all, “We need 10 of those” by the end.

The placenta has a lot of good stuff in it, animals do it all the time and you don’t see deers getting all weepy and telling their husbands they suck because they bought the wrong mustard and it certainly doesn’t do any harm. Even if it is just a placebo effect, then who cares because you feel good and that’s all that matters, right?

The down side is that it isn’t cheap unless you’re just going to eat it like a steak (pass the A1) and you’re probably going to get mocked for doing it, but I wouldn’t let that one worry you because those people are always going to find something to bitch about no matter what you do. If they see you taking a pill just tell them it’s acid.

They do sell encapsulated animal placenta (hey, if we’re here let’s jump right in) but it’s hard to say if that further steps away from the benefits of what your body has to offer, although, it is a lot cheaper.

All in all, the jury seems to be out on this one from a mainstream science standpoint but, if you’ve got the cash, it certainly can’t hurt and there are many women that say it’s pretty awesome stuff. I hear it goes well with a nice Chianti.

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120 Comments

  • As someone previously said I also don’t have anything to compare it to, but I did this with my first believing that the potential benefits were worth it and it would do no harm. It’s hard to say if it’s due to the pills but my milk supply was great and aside from the expected emotions that come with having a baby I felt good. I’d like to think it helped and will most likely encapsulate my placenta this time around again. My hospital had no problems with us doing this as long as we had it taken out of the hospital within the 24 hrs after giving birth which we were able to arrange. My initial thoughts were "that is gross" but after reading more about it it made a lot of sense.

  • Oh, and the idea grossed me out too, but my ob suggested it having seen it work wonders for another patient on her second pregnancy.

  • I had my placenta encapsulated and it was like night and day when I started taking the pills. Pre-pill I cried easily, was moody, and had nightmares every time I slept. Post-pill it all went away. I will definitely do it again for my next pregnancy.

  • I thought this idea was very weird and gross when I first heard about it. But it started to make sense and I figured, why not, when I had my baby. I’m now a believer, ha. Without a doubt, it helped my emotions return to normal. On days I forgot to take them my husband would even know just by my state of mind :p Totally worth every penny to feel "normal" and not all weepy!

  • My placenta pills saved my life. I had severe PPD after bb #2 and then got pregnant on accident with bb #3. I was hopeless and thought my life was over. I was willing to try anything when I heard about placenta encapsulation. I really didn’t think it would work for me (hopeless PPD brain) but I went from suicidal to completely fine in just a few short weeks. I now do placenta encapsulation for other women. Don’t knock it till you try it, that’s what I always say 😉

  • First time mommy and I encapsulated my placenta. I don’t have anything else to compare to since, this was my first – but I had no troubles with PPD or milk production. Set up everything in advance with an encapsulation specialist and it was easy peasy. Made sure the hospital put the placenta on ice, hubby brought it home that day in a cooler and by the specialist did everything in our home. By the time I got back, all I see are pretty little pills and nothing gory. Why waste a perfectly good placenta, I say! Chomp chomp!

  • If ingesting ones placenta is so taboo, then why does every other mammal partakes in this act? Contrary to cultural acceptance the placenta contains many vital minerals and hormones essential to balance the mother after birth.
    Brenda Ojala, founder of <a href=http://midwifeinternational.org/how-to-become-midwife/mom-says-placenta-works/>Placenta Works</a> shares her inspiring decision to take the step toward holistic health, help and happiness that came from within.
    See how placenta encapsulation can be an incredible benefit to ones <a href=http://midwifeinternational.org/midwifery-education/>midwifery education</a> and <a href=http://midwifeinternational.org/maternal-health/>maternal healthcare</a> plan of action.

    Get inspiration from within!

  • So if I want to do this where do I start? Do I tell my ob? Call the hospital? How do I go about finding a place that will make the pills?

  • I did it. People judged but they judge anyway so who cares. I used a service and paid the $200 and that got me over 100 capsules. I took them for 4 weeks post partum and as advised saved some for my first period post. Both times i had no mood swings, depression anxiety etc. that can happen during those times of hormonal fluctuations. Also I produce a TON of milk. As for the hospital, I don;t know if mine was a particularly progressive one or maybe because I used a well known mid wife, but as soon as the placenta was delivered they asked me if I wanted to keep it or if they should dispose of it for me. I had been under the impression I was going to have to sneak it out like a black market organ harvestor. Overall I highly reccomend it.

  • I just feel like if we were meant to eat it… we would have been doing it instinctually and not all talking about whether or not its good for us. If there is nothing innate telling us to do it, like the 5 mins after you give birth, if you’re not sitting there with the urge to eat your placenta than you probably don’t have to. Just my opinion.

  • A big portion of the science behind consumption/encapsulation of the placenta is the hormonal shift that you experience a few days after giving birth. While pregnant, your body produces hormones that it wouldn’t produce otherwise. Once you give birth the body is done producing those hormones and many women experience a "crash". Typically the hormonal shift occurs around the third day. What encapsulation does is help you wean off of those hormones at a slower pace, thus avoiding a hormonal crash.

    Although there is no firm research on the matter, human consumption of placenta has been around since the beginning of time. Sometimes it pays off to follow your instincts and let your body take the lead. The potential benefits are astounding. Why not give it a shot?

    Obviously it isn’t something that every woman wants to do but it is an amazing option for any new mother. I encourage every pregnant woman to at least read about it.

  • I’m considering this for #2. I wouldn’t be able to fry it up with potatoes, or make a placenta shake, but I can certainly pop a pill. I’d do anything to try to avoid crying for 10 days straight after the birth of my child (like last time).

  • wow. people will believe anything. fruit sweeter? battles postpartum depression? right. wild animals also eat their young. I'd like to see a court of law side with a mother on that right. 🙂

  • I had heard this before. I had a little piece of it right after i gave birth, the rest of it spent more that a year in my freezer, after i read this other post (http://laboroflove.typepad.com/laboroflove/2009/05/byebye-placenta.html) I found the courage to take it out thawn it, i took a picture of it and touched it, found the sack a touched the cord, i then boiled it, dry it in the oven and buried it in a big pot, i've been mixing it, i plan to use it as compost for the tree fuits on the back yard. supposedly it makes the fruit sweeter

  • Um, I am with Rudy 100 percent on this one. No way, no how. After needing a vascectomy reversal (well he needed it) 13 months of trying to conceive and battling "advanced maternal age" at the ripe old age of 41, I was so giddy to finally have a baby nothing could have brought on PPD. If anything I had postpartum euphoria. The camel thing made me snort.

  • My friend suggested I try this. However, I cannot bring myself to eat anything that fell out of my vagina. I can't get past that. Well, and that it looks a little like liver. I try not to be super closed minded about things and I do admire other women who do it, but in the same way I admire the judges on Iron Chef when someone busts out the ice cream maker.

  • Yeah. I don't care if eating the placenta makes me lose weight, cures my anxiety disorder, makes the kid change his own diapers, and makes my husband Wolverine. I'm not eating my own placenta or anyone or anything else's. The only thing I will continue to eat from my own body is my boogers and even that disgusts me.

  • I had never heard of placentaphagy or encapsulation til our doula mentioned that another of her clients was getting it done…my first reaction was "WTF?!" but of all people, my HUSBAND"S reaction was very nonchalant – "oh, sure, mammals do it all the time, good idea." I've looked into it, and have decided that ANYTHING which wards off PPD is on my TO-Do list. I've been very emotional throughout this pregnancy, and with hubby unemployed I have to return to work MUCH sooner than I want, and I'm more than a little worried about PPD striking me down before I know it. A number of the comment boards I've read up on about it also mention the low-cost option of freezing your placenta in ice-cube-sized chunks and making smoothies… which I admit makes me angle my head funny, but which I've also decided is what I plan to do. According to all reports, you don't taste anything but bananas if you use bananas with it other fruits and such. We can't afford the local encapsulation guru and additionally, since my preg-induced carpal tunnel makes doing anything with my hands (but especially finicky little tasks like filling capsules or somesuch) not only difficult but painful, I think it's my best option. Have already loaded up the freezer with mixed frozen berries and have bananas and the blender on the counter…I'll report back on my "research" (Junebug was due Friday, we'll see when she decides to make her grand entrance)…

  • I encapsulated my own placenta about 4 days after my daughter was born. We (my husband helped because I ended up with a C-section and couldn't stand comfortably for long) rinsed it really well, steamed it, sliced it up, and dehydrated it. Then we ground it up with our coffee bean grinder. It wasn't as gross as I had imaged, and my husband said it wasn't that gross either. We put it into little gel caps, and so the whole process cost us under $10. They definitely made me feel a LOT better – especially considering I was pretty depressed about the c-section. I still have a bunch left that I take when I start feeling "off" and I'm going to save some for the next pregnancy and see if they help with morning sickness (it's worth a try! Lol)

  • God, I love you. It's about time someone called out the camels. So, really, there are no studies out there at all on women consuming their placentas in various ways after birth and the outcomes? This is a bummer. Seems like the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive re: helping to prevent PPD and this could be a HUGE help to women, but oops, not so profitable for the pharma and formula companies, I suppose….

  • We encapsulated my placenta ourselves. There was no cooking involved, just chopped that bad boy up, put it in the dehydrator for 8 hours, ground it up in the blender and put it into capsules. It was not expensive and not even half as gross as I thought it would be. The hospital made a minor stink about giving it to us, but in the end we just had to sign a waiver promising to properly dispose of it.
    Personally, I'm grateful that we were able to encapsulate it. It may be placebo, but it's certainly helped me with new motherhood.

  • According to the lady who is going to do our encapsulation, traditional Chinese medicine says it is supposed to be drunk with white wine. Seems counter-intuative, but whatever works!

  • We found out the woman who taught our childbirth classes when I was pregnant with my first baby (she's also a doula) has started offering the service of encapsulating placentas. I'm 5 months pregnant with my second baby now, and my hubby is really keen on me trying this for baby #2. I was super moody for about 3 weeks after giving birth last time, so I figure if it could help, why not? Luckily we're planning a home birth so we don't have to worry about getting custody of my placenta!

  • cool stuff!
    I wish I would have ran across this info before 8 weeks ago.
    I gave birth to my 5th child on April6. He is amazing! As far as me,I am sooooo very moody and would try anything to help me overcome this problem! I am driving my hubby batty with it! Also my milk production was nothing like I needed it to be for my son,so..we are on formula already! I would have brought mine home and eaten it like a steak if it would have changed all these things for me!!!!….LOL!

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