Placenta encapsulation is undergoing a new revival in western culture and is a rapidly growing service being sought out by birthing parents who desire a more natural approach to postpartum recovery as well as the multiple benefits that have been reported. So, it’s not unexpected that questions would arise as you spend time researching.
CAN I STILL ENCAPSULATE MY PLACENTA IF I AM GBS POSITIVE?
Being GBS+ is not a contraindication to encapsulation, as long as it is a colonization and not an active infection. GBS colonization and infection are two very different things. Colonization tells us is that the GBS bacteria is currently present in the vaginal canal and/or the rectal mucosa at the time of testing. GBS bacteria is transient. meaning it can come and go, therefore regardless of a positive test, may or may not be present at the birth. GBS bacteria is sensitive to moist heat at 55 ºC for 30 minutes and dry heat 160-170 ºC for at least 1 hour. Both steaming and dehydrating methods used in the encapsulation process exceed these temperatures and times, therefore leading to the inactivation of the bacteria.
WOULD THERE BE ANY REASON WHY I CANT ENCAPSULATE MY PLACENTA?
Contraindications to consuming your placenta include:
Infection of the placenta or amniotic membranes during labour. If there is foul smelling discharge/amniotic fluid present during labour and/or childbirth, this is another good reason to suspect infection. No one wants to consume infected placenta capsules!
There may be instances where anomalies or abnormalities require the hospital to take the entire placenta if you consent to this. You can ask if they can take a small piece instead of the whole placenta in some cases.
The placenta is a barrier, and filters things in and out, both to and from the baby. However, if a birthing parent is consistently exposed to drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy, it is safe to assume the placenta is dense with the toxins that come from these things. In this case, placenta encapsulation and consumption would be contraindicated and cannot be done. Smoking is another indication not to consume your placenta. Smoking during pregnancy increases the concentration of cadmium in the placental tissue thus also poses a risk in the case of ingestion.
Active infections that may be reacquired, including but not limited to MRSA, Hep B, Hep C, HIV, Lyme Disease, C-Diff, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea
Once your placenta has been delivered proper care and handling is important. The placenta is to be consumed and therefore is treated like a food product. Like raw meat it will spoil if it has improper handling or is left unrefrigerated for too long. Please see the Hospital Placenta Release tab for more information regarding correct storage and handling following the birth.
CAN I STILL ENCAPSULATE MY PLACENTA IF I DO DELAYED CORD CLAMPING?
As stated by the World Health Organisation, it is highly recommend all mothers to choose delayed cord clamping for the benefit of their newborn. Delayed cord clamping involves leaving the umbilical cord intact for at least 3-10 minutes after birth, longer if possible. Up to a third of a newborns blood volume still lies within the placenta after birth, and cutting the cord too early will prevent this precious blood from being reinfused back into babe. During this time the cord is still pumping iron and stem cell rich blood which has been scientifically proven to have lifelong benefits to your baby. This will have no effect on your placenta and you can still encapsulate happily.
WHAT IF I HAVE A C-SECTION?
The same would apply for c-section births as vaginal births. Be sure your doctor is aware you are keeping the placenta. In the event you cannot advocate for yourself, make sure your birth partner, doula and midwife is also aware of your choice so they may ensure you keep your placenta. Have your cooler bought to the theatre waiting bay ready to store the placenta. Asking a midwife to assist with your placenta can help the process.
WHAT IF MY PLACENTA IS STAINED WITH MECONIUM?
Meconium is sterile, does not contain the faecal bacteria that normal stool does and therefore is perfectly fine to encapsulate. Meconium is only dangerous for the baby to inhale, but is otherwise harmless. Each placenta is thoroughly rinsed prior to preparation to remove any remaining blood and/or meconium.
I HAVE HEARD CONSUMING THE PLACENTA CAN REDUCE MILK PRODUCTION/SUPPLY, IS THIS TRUE?
As every body is different, and each woman's body reacts differently to the placenta capsules, the reported benefits can vary from person to person. One woman may report a differing response to the capsules than to another. Researchers of placenta encapsulation have argued that hormones found in the placenta, including hPL and prolactin, may facilitate increased milk production. The study most often cited as evidence of improved lactation was conducted by Soykova-Pachnerova et al. These researchers evaluated the effects of dried placenta on milk production in 210 women with anticipated low milk supply compared with 27 women who received a placebo treatment of dried beef. Soykova-Pachnerova et al reported that 86% of women experienced increases in breast size and milk production.
The intake of placenta preparations in the presence of mastitis and/or blocked ducts however is contraindicated due to the stimulating effect on milk production. Please reduce your consumption until the blockage and/or mastitis is cleared.
THE PLACENTA ACTS AS A “FILTER” DURING PREGNANCY; SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT INGESTING TOXINS WHEN CONSUMING THE PLACENTA?
The placenta is a life-sustaining organ and part of a detailed filtering system that works to prevent most harmful substances from making it to the baby in utero. It is true that the placenta filters blood to remove toxins and provide nutrients to your baby, however it would be very dangerous to your baby for those toxins to continue to stay in the placenta. Just as the babies waste is carried back through the placenta to be filtered by the mother’s body, so too are the toxins from her blood returned to her to be processed and released by other organs.
The risk of intoxication from individual intake appears to be low in terms of microbiological contamination and the content of potentially toxic trace elements. Based on the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for lactating women, the recommended daily intake of placenta capsules would provide, on average, 24% RDA for iron, 7.1% RDA for selenium, 1.5% RDA for zinc, and 1.4% RDA for copper. The mean concentrations of potentially harmful elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, uranium) were well below established toxicity thresholds. These results indicate that the recommended daily intake of encapsulated placenta may provide trace micronutrients and a minimal source of toxic elements which are not in high enough concentrations to cause harm following ingestion.
CAN I ENCAPSULATE MY PLACENTA IF I HAVE?
Gestational Diabetes: Yes. Whether diet-controlled or insulin-controlled, this does not affect the ability to encapsulate the placenta.
A Lotus Birth: A Lotus Birth is the practice of leaving the baby attached to the placenta until the cord dries and comes away from baby naturally. Unfortunately, as a lotus birth requires the cord to dry and separate itself, usually taking up to 10 days, this is far too long to have the placenta not refrigerated and fresh in order to be encapsulated. To try and include this in my practice I can encourage women to keep the placenta attached to the baby and do a ‘modified lotus birth’ where the cord is still attached but parts of the placenta are removed from the attached piece and refrigerated/stored in your cooler for my collection. Therefore these pieces can still be encapsulated or turned into a placenta remedy.
Multiples: Yes. As the process is likely to take more time and supplies (and yield more capsules) there is an additional fee of $50 for twin placentas.
Pre-Eclampsia: Although the placenta does seem to play a role in the development of pre-eclampsia, it does not exclude using it for encapsulation.
Taken medication: Generally speaking, medications taken during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding are deemed safe with encapsulation. However I always suggest you discuss this with your care provider.
IVF: Yes! IVF or any other way you have conceived does not have any impact on placenta encapsulation.
CAN I STILL ENCAPSULATE MY PLACENTA IF I HAVE USED DRUGS DURING LABOUR, HAD AN EPIDURAL OR AN INDUCTION?
It is understood that the placenta acts as a gateway, an interface between mother and baby. Metabolic toxins from the baby are sent back via the placenta to the mother’s liver to be detoxified from her system. This includes drugs or medications; some of which have a very short half-life in the body. These interventions have no noticeable effect on your placenta capsules. Epidural anaesthesia and Pitocin are said to break down very quickly after entering the placenta.
WILL THE HOSPITAL RELEASE MY PLACENTA TO ME?
Most hospitals are fairly easy to work with when it comes to having the placenta released; however, you will need to let them know before the birth that you are keeping your placenta. A conversation with your birth team, midwife and/or doctor and a statement in your birth plan is the best way to do this, as well as upon arrival to the birth suite. After delivery, the hospital will have you sign a release form or waiver. Please see the "What To Do After You've Given Birth" page for more information.
HOW SOON WILL THE PLACENTA BE PREPARED AFTER THE BIRTH?
The placenta preparation should take place as soon as possible after the birth, (ideally within the first 48 hours). Directly after the birth you need to contact me at your earliest convenience to schedule pickup. If you have delivered your babe in Wagga Wagga, but live in surrounding towns, I can express post your capsules to you once I have completed them at an additional fee.
IS THIS JUST A FAD? DOES THIS REALLY WORK?
Consuming one’s own placenta (placentophagy) is undergoing a small revival in western cultures. Some view this as a way of celebrating the placenta’s significance and/or promoting postpartum physical and mental health. When measuring placentophagys’ health outcomes, it may be that the woman’s perception of how it makes them feel becomes more important than the medical models understanding of the evidence.
IF THE PLACENTA HAS BACTERIA ON IT, EVEN FROM THE BIRTH CANAL, CAN’T THAT MAKE YOU SICK?
The placenta does in fact carry bacteria, as do the majority of all things around us. The most important point to note is that not all bacteria is “bad” bacteria. The infant is exposed to several environmental sources of bacteria in the early neonatal interval through the maternal vaginal canal and faeces, swallowing and breathing, skin to skin contact, maternal breastmilk, etc. Reports conclude that exposure to the bacteria during and immediately following the birth process is beneficial to building a microbiome. I am a placenta specialist who has proper training in food safety handling standards to ensure your placenta is processed in a safe and sterile environment in order to remove any harmful bacteria.
I'VE HEARD THERE ARE SOME SIDE EFFECTS, IS THIS TRUE?
On very rare occasions some women report that they feel jittery, much like feeling over caffeinated after consuming their encapsulated placenta as well as mild headaches, especially when you hav had too many capsules. Other rare reports suggest that a very small number of women experienced a small decrease in milk supply as opposed to an increase in milk supply following the ingestion of their placenta. Each woman must evaluate the potential benefits verse the potential risks to decide whether or not placenta encapsulation is right for them.
In a survey done of 189 females who had ingested their placenta it found the majority of these women reported perceived positive benefits and indicated they would engage in placenta encapsulation again after subsequent births. The survey shows that the vast majority of women who engaged in placentophagy did so in the belief it would provide benefits to themselves after delivery. The survey participants generally reported benefits from the practice, felt that their postpartum experience with placenta capsules was a positive one, and overwhelmingly indicated that they would engage in encapsulation again after subsequent pregnancies.
The most commonly reported negative aspect of placentophagy regarded the nature of the placenta’s overall appeal. Adjustment to dosages can typically assist in alleviating or reducing most reported symptoms. If ever symptoms of infection, flu, or cold are experienced it is recommended that capsules not be taken during that time to prevent the illness from possibly driving deeper.
WHAT METHOD OF PREPARATION DO I CHOOSE?
When deciding upon the preparation of your capsules, trust your instincts. It is an entirely personal choice. Think about what you would like to gain after birth and into your postpartum. A sense of calm or increased energy? I also suggest mothers think about their own personality and moods to guide them to the remedy most like themselves. Unless you have produced a positive GBS swab, in which case you must choose the Traditional Method, the choice is up to you and what you feel will most benefit you. Please visit the "Raw vs Traditional Method" page to see which method aligns with you.
Still can't decide?
Lucky for you Dulcie Lane offers a “Half and Half” method of placenta preparation whereby half of your placenta is used to make capsules using the Traditional Method, and the other half with the Raw Method. This way you can enjoy both methods of preparation and the benefits they provide.
HOW MANY CAPSULES WILL I RECEIVE?
As you are a unique individual, so too is your placenta. No two placentas in the world are ever alike. How many capsules you will receive is based on how big your placenta is and what method of preparation you choose. The Traditional Method of preparation steams the placenta and therefore your placenta shrinks slightly in size. This will reduce the amount of capsules you will receive by a small amount. Compared to the Raw Method where the placenta is not steamed and you yield a slightly higher number of capsules.
The largest number of capsules one placenta has made is 338 and the smallest is 125. In the end, no matter how many capsules you yield, every single one of them are a powerful tool to support you in your postpartum.
HOW MANY CAPSULES DO I TAKE?
As every woman and placenta are different, so will how many capsules you consume on a daily basis. I urge you to listen to the cues of your body to determine what the perfect amount of capsules is for you. You are provided a general usage instruction card in your package to help guide you on deciding what amount to take, how many to start with and how to increase or decrease as per your preference. This is a guide only. I have had clients who who do really well on one capsule per day, where some clients prefer to take multiple per day, usage is not a one size fits all. If you feel you are experiencing some bad side effects like too much energy, feeling jittery, headaches, than you may have taken too many capsules, listen to your body and take less the next time.
Usage will also depend on what method of preparation you have chosen. The Traditional Method is a little more gentler on the body in the way that some nutrients, h0rmones and element, which are contained within the placenta, are lost during the steaming process. This makes the placenta slightly less 'potent' where you may find you need more capsules per day. Whereas the Raw Method of preparation retains far more nutrients, hormones and elements as it is not steamed. These capsules can be more 'potent' than the Traditional capsules in the way of an energy boost each day, therefore you may need less per day.
For more info on which method to choose, and what benefits of each method you prefer, visit the "Raw vs Traditional Method" page.