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It is common knowledge that the placenta plays an active role in delivering nutrients from the mother to the baby throughout the pregnancy. However, many women out there believe that the placenta is a good source of nutrition even after pregnancy. It has found its roots in a few traditions around the world and is now popular among women who cook, bake or make smoothies out of placentas for consumption. Many others have their placenta encapsulated after delivery to extract its benefits.
What is Placenta Encapsulation?
Placental encapsulation is simply the process of turning the placenta into capsules for ingestion by the mother. This can be done at home by steaming, dehydrating and grinding the placenta before putting it in pills. You can also hire a professional to do the job for you.
Is Placenta Encapsulation Clean and Safe?
Many women, who may be concerned about whether the whole process of placenta encapsulation is clean and safe, will need to discuss their concerns with their service provider. The blood and the clots of the placenta are removed during the cleaning. Also, since the process is completely customized, it is very unlikely that there will be a mix-up. If you have any concerns about the hygiene, you can always ask your providers to do the process at your house, using your utensils.
Service providers usually use gloves, surgical grade steel and a disinfectant that is of hospital grade.
There is no scientific evidence that backs the procedure or shuns it. However, it is recommended that if you have any kind infections, bacterial or viral, you must refrain from consuming the placenta. Other reasons to avoid placental encapsulation include if there was an abnormal growth on the placenta or in the event that your baby has passed meconium before birth.
There are mainly two methods through which the placenta is encapsulated.
1) Raw Dried Capsules
In this method, the placenta is dried, dehydrated and powdered and filled into the capsules. Although this increases the number of pills you get, as opposed to steamed placentas, you may be at a higher risk of potential foodborne diseases.
2) Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Capsules
The Chinese medicine method involves steaming the placenta with some green chili, ginger, and lemon. It is then dehydrated in an oven or in a food dehydrator. It is then dried and powdered and filled into vegetable capsules. A single placenta can make anywhere around 200 to 300 pills.
What are the Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation?
The advocates of placenta encapsulation believe that turning your placenta into capsules and ingesting them claim to provide the following benefits.
- Help achieve hormonal balance
- Increase iron levels in the body
- Aid the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy condition
- Decrease post-natal bleeding
- Increase production of milk
- Improve and enhance energy levels
- Prevents postpartum depression
- Replenishes oxytocin, CRH (stress-reducing hormone), and Vitamin B6 in your body
Side Effects of Placenta Capsules
Most women who have tried the placenta capsules have many praises for it. Only a few of them have come forward with the side effects that they have observed after the consumption of placenta pills. Some of them are
- Regular, unpleasant burping
- Taste and smell that isn’t appealing
Doctors also warm women to not consume placenta when they have an infection or are suffering from fever, in order to avoid making their condition worse.
How is Encapsulation of the Placenta Done?
If you are interested to turn your placenta into capsules and give this practice a try yourself, you can reach out to placenta encapsulation specialists. They will get the job done for you. However, it is important to remember that there is no government body that oversees the production or regulates this procedure. Most specialists follow food production safety rules for the process. It is essential that you do an extensive research on the same and understand why it may or may not work for you before getting to the process. You can also consult your doctor about the feasibility of the same and in case if you want to go ahead with it, inform your doctor or your midwife about it, ahead of time.
The process of Turning Placenta into Pills
If you’ve identified the service providers to turn your placenta into capsules, you will need to inform them immediately after your delivery to collect the placenta. This is because the service providers usually collect the placenta within 48 hours after you’ve delivered to ensure health and safety. Also, it also allows them to get back to you with the pill as soon as possible.
You will need to place your placenta in a clean bag and refrigerate as soon as possible. Most service providers do not accept to encapsulate if the placenta has been out for too long, in order to avoid contamination. In case you’ve had a water birth, some service providers may refrain from encapsulating the placenta believing that it may have been contaminated by the water or the matter in it. Others don’t have a probably with this as it can be successfully cleaned.
It takes a day to prepare and dehydrate the placenta. In case you’ve frozen the placenta, the process will take an additional day.
The first step is to wash and remove any blood or clots from the placenta. Based on the method you’re opting for, your placenta will either be dehydrated directly or will be steamed and then dehydrated. The placenta may or may not be steam with herbs.
Once the placenta is dehydrated, it is then powdered. This powder is then filled inside capsules. You will receive around 200 to 300 pills, which can be stored by freezing if you want to use them at a later time.
Ensure to not get your pills wet during storage as they may dissolve. Hence, if you are in a warm climate, you can refrigerate your pills.
Taste of Placenta
If you are saving your placenta for encapsulation and consuming the pills, you may not find any difference in the herbal supplements you take and the placenta capsules. In the form of capsules, it is said that they do not have a distinct taste. However, if you are consuming the placenta in any other form, you may find that it may taste similar to any other organ meat like liver, etc.
Placenta encapsulation or ingestion of the placenta in any form is a choice made individually by the mothers. Science hasn’t proved the benefits of the same, neither have any extensive studies been conducted about it. Hence, if you are intrigued with the idea of getting nutrients from the placenta, it is best if you research and understand the process thoroughly, and weigh in the risks and benefits of the same before going ahead.