Placenta Encapsulation – Or How I Ate My Placenta

by Amber Stiles on June 27, 2012

Yup, I did it. I’m a dirty dirty hippie that totally had my placenta picked up from the hospital before I even met my baby in recovery.  My birth doula helped me find a postpartum doula to do the dehydration and encapsulation.  I was super excited to have this done with Emma’s placenta since I didn’t even get to see Alexa’s.  I promise I’m not a crazy person.  This is a logical thing to do.

I know most people think of it as a waste product.  Medical waste to be exact. Soooo ewwwwwww why would you take that home?  I wanted to pay homage to the only temporary organ my body has ever created.  I wanted to benefit from the thing that passed nutrients and blood from my body to my baby’s.

Sure I could have taken a picture.  Had a print made.  Buried it under a new tree.  I could have…and my postpartum doula Jessica from the Essence Center did some of those things for me.  I have pictures, I have prints, and I have a heart shaped dried umbilical cord to bury if I so desire.  I also had a bottle of placenta pills made up to ingest.  And I did just that.  For about a month postpartum I took 3-6 pills a day.  She also created some tincture for me to make my very own “rescue remedy”.  Which reminds me, I need to strain mine and start using it!

Benefits

So why would you want to do ANYTHING with your placenta?  There are so many believed benefits from the nutrients (taken from Placenta Bakery).

  • Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone,
  • Prolactin: promotes lactation,
  • Oxytocin: for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others,
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events,
  • Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores,
  • Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections,
  • Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory,
  • Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, a common postpartum condition,
  • Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing,
  • Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.

A note from my postpartum doula

Placenta encapsulation is the process of preparing a mother’s placenta within 48 hours of birth by separating the umbilical cord from the placenta, rinsing and draining maternal and fetal blood, dehydrating and powdering the placenta to be placed into vegetarian, kosher, non-gelatin capsules for the mother to ingest as she sees fit. The purpose of the mother ingesting encapsulated placenta is to reintroduce the beneficial vitamins, minerals, hormones, proteins, and other nutrients to her body following labor and birth to help restore a more balanced body function, assist in the prevention of “baby blues” and the more serious postpartum depression, increase breast-milk production and quality, shorten healing time, increase maternal energy levels, and provide an over-all feeling of wellness. The placenta is composed of healing chemicals.

Another option for mothers is the creation of a Placenta Tincture with a small portion of their placenta, prior to preparation for encapsulation. Tinctures rest for six weeks prior to usage and can be used on their own in times of transition, stress and illness. A small portion of the Placenta Tincture can be used to create Placenta Essence and Homeopathic Placenta Remedy if the parents so decide.

So that’s it.  I did it. My pills have been gone for a while now.  I feel they helped me in the first few weeks after Emma was born.  They quelled my weepiness and helped keep my wild postpartum emotions at a more even keel.  I started taking them as soon as possible and believe they also helped with breastfeeding and milk production.  I didn’t have any of the issues I had during my first nursing experience once they were in my system.

I’m aware that this may all be in my head.  The placebo effect may be to blame (or thank in my case).  I don’t think this is the case…but no matter what…it worked for me!  I’m in NO WAY saying that everyone should do this.  I realize there’s a big ick factor to get past.  Trust me, I had to gag down the first few and I always took them with a flavorful beverage because they did taste like iron (guessing it’s the blood).  If you’re at all interested in the process I’d be happy to answer best I can or pass your questions on to my postpartum doula Jessica from Essence.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Noelle June 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I LOVE placentas. I know there’s an “ick factor” for some people, and I just have no sympathy for it. Placentas are amazing.

I’m so glad the pills helped you!

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Thanks Noelle I really don’t understand why it’s acceptable to eat organs from other animals (or drink milk from them) but people get SO freaked about human bodies. In any case, I’m thrilled I was able to try it out and feel lucky to have the tincture to keep for many years to come.

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Taina June 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Okay, so this is not as gross as I’d thought it was going to be. My aunt (married to a Taiwanese man) had to deal with her in-laws wanting to feed her a stir-fry of placenta after her first born. I actually think this is a good way to get all the nutritional and emotional benefits from it without having to actually deal with it in it’s ooky gooky form.
Cool post.

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Ha, what did you think it would be?

I’m guessing it’s aunt that I’ve met? I know all the info I’ve read points to Eastern Medicine so I’m not surprised. I’m curious if any of my IL’s have done it now that I’m “out of the closet” so to speak.

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Taina June 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I thought it would be something along the lines of stir fried placenta lol. It was my aunt Laura- Kim and Nick’s mom? You’ve met, but I’m not sure there was anything significant between you to remember her by. She’s got the half asian kids. Nick is the rapper cousin.

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Yup yup I remember her from your 30th bday :-)

At least it wasn’t raw and pureed into a smoothie :P

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Taina June 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm

So, can I ask, was it expensive? I think I might totally do this with number 2.

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allisonthemeep June 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Placentas are amazing, weird things. I never did the capsules, but I always thought that was a really interesting thing to do. And it makes so much sense that it would help with depression and leveling out hormone jankiness.

Out of curiosity, is there an aftertaste to the pills? Like burping when you take fish oil capsules? :)

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Super weird…but pretty cool. I’m obsessed with the “tree of life” and they look so much like one.

No aftertaste though. Just that somewhat stale blood taste while taking them. I hate vitamin burps so that would’ve sucked. Luckily they digest easier I think so they don’t just sit in your stomach like traditional supplements.

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Little Big / Carrie Anne June 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I’m fascinated by this and if we can afford to do it and find someone I’d consider it. Many mammals (including cats) eat their placenta for all the above nutrients, and especially, to get their milk going. That’s how we knew Squirrelly was truly abandoned–this placenta was still attached.

What were the actual benefits you noticed physically? I’m really curious!

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

You should look for someone getting certified. It was much less expensive that way since they’re using you as “practice”. It’s really not complicated you just need to be able to get it done within the first 3 days and have the equipment. I know people that have done it themselves…but I’m not sure I’d have the patience to get it accomplished right after giving birth.

Physically I felt much more at ease than last time. I healed much faster from this Cesarean than I did with Alexa. I was out and about in the first week…which was unheard of last time. Some of it I’m sure was because I kinda had to be with a toddler…but I could’ve passed that off to Peter since he was home. I just felt normal…if that makes sense? That and I could feel a difference in energy if I forgot to take them. There was a bit of a “surge” about 30 minutes after taking the pills the first few days. After that my body was just used to it and, like I said above, I felt normal.

I’m excited to get some cheese cloth so I can strain my tincture and see what that feels like I’ll post an update once I’ve started taking it!

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Denise June 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm

It’s not really up my alley but I don’t begrudge others from doing it and happy that you saw benefits. I never knew the process so this was really interesting.

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I’m not really sure where I first heard about it or why I became interested in it. I have a history to depression and didn’t want to deal with PPD or PPA so I figured it was worth a shot :-) I toyed with the idea during my first pregnancy but my [then]midwife scoffed at the idea…which seemed weird since she was SUPER crunchy :-/ Made me feel stupid, then with Alexa’s premature birth there was no time to set it up.

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Joeline June 27, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Amber, This is one of the most informative blog posts I have ever read. I love it, I feel like an instant convert, and the the benefits and reasons behind it seem so obviously positive. Thank you :)

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Amber Stiles June 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Are you having kids someday????? Say yes :-)

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DoulaMegan August 12, 2012 at 12:03 am

YAY!!!! I’m so glad you were able to encapsulate your placenta.. I will be doing my first one in september..
xo

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