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, and it will not be made available to you.
The placenta is a barrier, and filters some 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.
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 placentophagy 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 for up to 5 hours before needing to be refrigerated and do a ‘modified lotus birth’ where the cord is still attached but parts of the placenta are removed from the attached piece. 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.
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. After delivery, the hospital will have you sign a release form or waiver.
Please see the "Hospital Placenta Release" 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 us 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. We are a placenta specialist who have 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. 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 placentophagy 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 placentophagy was a positive one, and overwhelmingly indicated that they would engage in placentophagy 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.