What is Placenta Encapsulation For?
bottle of pills with placenta encapsulated next to it in capsules
Labor + Delivery Parenthood Pros and Cons

What is Placenta Encapsulation For?

By Amy Morrison

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 withheld 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 many 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.

Why some people think placentophagy is a good and not so good idea

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, and is rich in 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).

What do hospitals do with placenta?

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.”

What is the cost of placenta encapsulation?

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.

Is placenta encapsulation worth it?

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. Some would argue that even if it is just a placebo effect, then who cares because you feel good and that’s all that matters, right?

On the other hand, there aren’t any standards in place for the encapsulation process so you don't always know what you're getting – you might end up with a pill full of harmful bacteria along with your placenta. Most of the studies on the benefits of placenta consumption aren't great quality so there isn't much science support it either.

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, many people claim to benefit from placenta consumption but there isn't much science to back it up yet which leaves a big gap between regulation and people looking to make a lot of money off of it. If you do decide to encapsulate your placenta, be very careful about who you use or how you do it.

Also check out: 11 Natural Remedies for Postpartum Depression

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