Placenta encapsulation: Trend or ancient healer?

by Megan Horvath, Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist
Japan Birth Resource Network
Many people hear the word postpartum and immediately think of tiredness, bleeding, depressionand the need for medication. Postpartum is a term that refers to a period of time after a woman has had a baby and is not specific to a medical condition. 
“Giving placenta to a new mother following birth has become standard protocol among a growing number of midwives in the United States. By nourishing the blood and fluids, endocrine glands and organs, the placenta will reduce or stop postpartum bleeding, speed up recovery, boost energy and relieve postpartum blues.” Homes, Peter. 1993. Jade Remedies, Snow Lotus Press, 352. 
The placenta is a sacred organ shared between mother and child that develops on the wall of the uterus during pregnancy. The placenta removes waste and provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby through the umbilical cord.  
Some mothers and midwives believe the placenta offers benefits that help recovery after birth – allowing women to regain energy, reduce bleeding, increase milk production and fight off “baby blues” or a more severe form of postpartum depression. Doctors may be skeptical and point to the lack of scientific evidence and regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. 
The act of ingesting your placenta known as placentophagy, isn’t a new fad; it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for hundreds of years, according to the UK-based Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network. 
Placenta encapsulation is the process of preparing the mother’s placenta after the birth of her baby by dehydrating, powdering and placing it into capsules for the mother to ingest. 
The purpose of ingestion of the placenta is to reintroduce beneficial hormones, proteins, and other nutrients to her body following labour and birth to help restore physical and emotional balance, prevent or lessen the risk of “baby blues” that may lead to postpartum depression, increase breast-milk production, shorten healing time, increase maternal energy levels, and provide an over-all feeling of wellness to aid in the transition between pregnancy and the early postpartum period.
A local mom tried placenta encapsulation for her fourth birth, never having done it for her previous three and said, “I have four boys and with this last pregnancy I was told about placenta encapsulation. I decided to give it a try and with taking the pills I felt the difference in the rest of my pregnancies. I felt great and would highly recommend it!”
As you look to the news, celebrities have triggered attention to the practice in recent years. Alicia Silverstone, who played the lead in the 1995 comedy “Clueless,” is the latest to say that she ate her placenta after giving birth. Also, actress January Jones from “Mad Men” ingested her placenta. In an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” sisters Kim and Kourtney Kardashian trick their mom and stepdad into thinking that they had eaten a placenta with their dinner to teach them a lesson about being squeamish about the practice. 
Placenta services commonly include placenta capsules, an umbilical cord keepsake, art keepsake placenta steamed broth, a tinctureor smoothies.
As a certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a mother of two, it’s amazing seeing a difference in bleeding, energyand milk supply for new mothers. What are you going to do with your placenta? 

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