My pregnant friend called yesterday, and asked if I’d heard of the latest health trend:
“You didn’t eat your placenta did you?”
I saved it, put it on ice and had it specially prepared into capsules.
There are benefits of consuming placenta pills!
“What!?”My birth plan included saving my placenta for placenta encapsulation. My nurse would take it after my son was born, put it on ice, and Jennifer, my Placenta Encapsulation Specialist would come to the hospital and pick it up and proceed with the encapsulation. (That means she’d dry it out, grind to a powder and fill capsules for me to take.)
I’d actually never heard of it until my sister, a Naturopathic Doctor brought up the benefits of consuming placenta pills after pregnancy. She said that it often gave postpartum women more energy and staved off postpartum depression. Apparently this is a popular practice on the west coast. Also, the placenta is full of iron, which women definitely need after pregnancy and childbirth.
Well, I figured, it couldn’t hurt. And why not? I didn’t even care too much about the “ick” factor (hey, if it helps stave off the baby blues, I would try it!).
Placentophagia is the process of a new mother consuming her placenta postpartum by either eating the placenta raw, cooked, in capsule form or drinking the juices from the placenta once it is cooked. This is an appropriate practice for vegan women. I was fortunate enough to work with Jennifer Frye, a birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist. I sat down with Jennifer to get some answers on Placenta Pills.
1. What are Placenta Pills? Placenta pills are a dehydrated, encapsulated form of a mother’s placenta, prepared after the mother delivers for postpartum support.
a. What are the top three key benefits of taking placenta pills? Each woman has their own individual response to consuming their placenta, and the effects are all equally beneficial, but I would say 1) the replenishment of essential hormones and nutrients (oxytocin, CRH, HPL, Iron, B Vitamins) which leads to an increase in energy and can potentially help establish a healthy and early milk supply, 2) It can help stabilize the fluctuating and changing hormone levels after birth, potentially preventing or lessening baby blues or postpartum depression, and 3) It can offer natural postpartum pain relief while the body heals.
2. What is the process for getting placenta pills? (just list some quick steps here) It’s a very easy process! Contact a local Independent Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (many doulas also offer this as part of their services) prior to giving birth to discuss their qualifications, process, price, availability, etc. I recommend doing this sooner than later in your pregnancy to ensure your place on a specialist’s calendar. Many Encapsulators have contracts/letters of agreement, deposit requirements, and intake forms to ensure the mother qualifies for encapsulation. Much of this can be done online these days, though I personally prefer a balance of both online and in person/phone contact prior to being hired, if possible.
3. How do you make the placenta pills? Once I have the placenta in my possession, the preparation space is clean and set up, and I have examined it to ensure it’s healthy, I remove the amniotic sac, which consists of 2 membranes, the amnion and the chorion, and attaches to the edge of the placenta. I also remove the umbilical cord- some families prefer to save the cord, so occasionally I will set it aside for dehydration. Once the membranes and cord are removed, I gently rinse the placenta under cold running water; in the event of meconium staining, I will also do a vinegar rinse. (Meconium is sterile & does not contain the fecal bacterial that normal stool contains. While dangerous for the infant to inhale, it is harmless otherwise.)
If the mother has chosen the raw preparation method, I will simply thinly slice the placenta into strips at that point and place it in the dehydrator. If mom has chosen the TCM method, which involves the steaming of the placenta with grounding, warming ingredients (lemon, ginger, herbs), I will steam it briefly, then slice and dehydrate.
The dehydration process can take anywhere from 12-24+ hours, depending on the placenta.
Once dehydration is complete, I finely grind the dried placenta strips and place the powder in capsules.
4. Can you share your placenta pills with a new mom? For safety/health reasons, it is not recommended that anyone except the mother who the placenta belongs to takes the capsules. The placenta is an endocrine organ, containing the blood and hormones of the mother. Of course, it is at the discretion of the mother and family if they choose to share a placenta remedy with anyone, but there is the potential for exposure to bloodborne pathogens, if unknowingly present, so it’s often advised against.
I highly recommend getting placenta pills. For more information Contact Jennifer, Birth Doula and Encapsualtion specialist
P.S – In case you want to read more about placenta pills check out: Why Kourtney Kardashian is all about eating placenta pills.