A woman’s placenta is a temporary organ, that our body makes early in pregnancy, whose job is to deliver nutrients and oxygen to their baby during pregnancy, as well as removes waste for the baby. (source)
If you’ve heard of placenta encapsulation, and you’d like to read further, I’ve compiled some FAQs inspired from questions that I’ve been asked in the last couple of years from my prenatal yoga students as well as friends and family.
***The goal of this post is solely to provide information and anecdotes on this subject. Every mother should weigh the risks and benefits of placenta encapsulation before deciding to do so, and it is not my intent to coerce or recommend***
What is placenta encapsulation, anyway?
According to American Pregnancy Association, placenta encapsulation is “the practice of ingesting the placenta after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills.”
Ok, this sounds really gross. Why would I want to do that?
Many women (including myself) have anecdotally claimed that by ingesting their placenta soon after having birth it helped with their milk production, reduced their incidence of postpartum depression, and helped with overall recovery.
Wait, but, have there been any studies?
There have been some studies, but not many. Evidence Based Birth has done a thorough article on some research studies done on placenta encapsulation, and the results are interesting. In one study, researchers found that there weren’t any toxic substances in women’s placentas. Another study found that there was a moderate amount of iron in placenta capsules tested, as well as various detectable hormones. As far as the outcomes for women, in a very small sample size, when comparing placenta capsules to beef capsules, there weren’t any noticeable difference in women’s iron levels after delivery.
Do these placenta capsules taste bad?
Simply put, no. I’ve had a plethora of vitamins that have tasted worse. Some placenta encapsulators (doulas mostly) offer flavored capsules, just incase you are worried about taste.
Are there any risks?
As with all things, there are potential risks. Our placenta is an organ, which ends up being cooked as meat, dried, and put into capsules. With all meats there is a risk of contamination, and with proper food safety and preparation these risks can be greatly reduced or eliminated. There was a single case of a mother’s newborn baby getting infected with group b strep after she ingested placenta capsules, but there was not evidence to support the placenta capsules causing the infection. You can read more about this in the resources below.
Why did I decide to get my placenta encapsulated?
While I was pregnant, I was interested in holistic ways I could help prepare for labor and postpartum. I weighed the benefits and risks, and decided that it was worth trying for the potential benefits. Also, it’s worth it to add, my husband was very suspicious, and after talking to some other dads who had seen benefits first hand, his mind was put at ease.
And, for the record, while I was taking my placenta capsules after birth, my husband said to me, more than once, “did you take your happy pills today?”
Do you have any references and resources?
Just incase you’re a compulsive googler like myself, here’s some articles to point you in the right direction…