Does consuming part of yourself sound out of this world to you? Would you be surprised to learn that women have been consuming their placenta for centuries? And not just women—many species consume the placenta after childbirth. Placentophagy, or the act of eating the placenta, is as natural as it is a widespread practice both among humans and the animal world. So why in the world should women contemplate having their placentas encapsulated? Well, the placenta contains two important components: prostaglandin and oxytocin. Prostaglandin can help the uterus contract to its pre-pregnancy size, while oxytocin can help regulate mood. Although early cultures prepared the placenta in stews or even ate it raw, modern technological advances have allowed the placenta to be encapsulated.
After childbirth, the placenta is saved and given to an individual certified in encapsulation methods. This individual may be a nurse, doula, or other individual involved in the healthcare, nutrition, or complementary medicine fields. He or she will clean the placenta and remove any membranes and blood clots before steaming it. Then, the placenta is dried, ground, and put into capsules. The placenta's size will determine how many capsules are created. On average, the typical placenta will produce anywhere between 100-200 capsules. Some encapsulations specialists may recommend adding specific herbs to the ground placenta to enhance its effectiveness. This entire process should take 24 hours. After receiving the capsules, they should be stored in the refrigerator, where they can remain for several months. The recommended dosage varies, however a common dosage is two capsules daily.
Advocates of placenta encapsulation believe that the placenta can help a woman combat postpartum depression. Although no conclusive studies have been conducted to support this belief, there are many anecdotal reports supporting the positive effects of placenta consumption. Women's first –hand accounts report few, if any, experiences with postpartum depression as well as quicker healing times for their bodies after childbirth. In addition to staving off the baby blues, women report increased milk supply as well as increased energy. The placenta contains prolactin, which is a hormone that stimulates milk production. Some women have also shared that they noticed a decrease in postpartum bleeding and night sweats within the first few days of a placenta regimen.
Each placenta's hormonal balance is unique to the body it came from; this is why many alternative health practitioners believe that encapsulated placenta can be extremely beneficial to women who opt to do it. The hormones contained with the placenta can help a woman avoid common postnatal issues such as depression and insomnia because they are fine-tuned to her specific physiological make-up. In addition, the placenta is rich in several different nutrients including iron. Because of the amount of blood lose during childbirth, your body needs increased amounts of iron and protein to help replace the blood lost. Perhaps most interesting of all is that some women save a portion of their capsules until they begin experiencing symptoms associated with menopause. A growing number of women report less severe or nearly non-existent symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats when they take placenta capsules during this transitional phase in their lives. Health experts believe that the hormones found in the ground placenta help to balance the body during this period naturally, reducing common discomforts.
If you're interested in placenta encapsulation, it's important to discuss this decision with your partner and well as the healthcare professionals attending your baby's birth. You will also need to make arrangements with the individual doing the encapsulation as he or she will need the placenta as soon as possible to ensure that it is handled correctly. In addition, it's important to check the hospital's policy on this practice to avoid hitting any speed bumps after your delivery. Although science has not dedicated any major studies to placenta encapsulation, anecdotal evidence suggests it offers women a variety of benefits. Ultimately, you must decide if this practice is for you.
For more information on the pros and cons of placenta encapsulation, or to find an individual offering this service, consider visiting one of the following websites:
Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network
Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting