What Is Placenta Encapsulation And What Are Its Benefits?

Placenta Encapsulation

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As you get ready to give birth, there are many things on your mind. Your birth plan, your baby’s nursery – everything is ready. But what are your plans regarding your placenta? Nothing? Maybe it’s time you gave it a thought.

For most women, placenta is a medical term associated with their pregnancy. Their relation with their placenta ends the moment they give birth. But there is a growing crowd of women who think otherwise. For them, placenta is a source of nutrition and wellness. Does that sound interesting? Welcome to the world of placenta encapsulation and placenta pills!

What Is Placenta Encapsulation?

Consuming placenta may seem like a far-fetched idea, but for thousands of women it is a spiritual practice. Advocates of the natural birth movement are often the ones touting about the amazing benefits of placenta consumption. There are many ways a woman can consume their placenta. You can cook it, make it into a smoothie, or even bake it! But most women opt for placenta encapsulation – turning placenta into capsules and pills that can be consumed easily.

You can turn your placenta into consumable capsules at home, or you can hire experts to do the job for you. There are two types of encapsulation methods:

  1. Raw Dried Capsules
  2. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Capsules

[ Read: Back Pain After Delivery ]

The TCM technique is the most popular method of placenta encapsulation. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the placenta is a powerful and sacred medicine. The TCM technique steams the placenta instead of cooking it. The raw placenta is steamed along with lemon, ginger and green chilli. It is then dehydrated using a food dehydrator or in the oven. Finally, the dried placenta is made into a powder and filled into vegetable capsules. You can make around 200-300 capsules out of a placenta.

Benefits Of Placenta Pills/Capsules Consumption:

Women who consume their placenta in its various forms report several benefits. Some of the common claims made by placenta enthusiasts include:

  1. Reduction in post-birth bleeding
  2. Healthy breast milk supply
  3. Restocking of essential hormones like oxytocin and CRH as well as vitamin B6 and iron
  4. Prevention of Postpartum Depression (PPD)
  5. Energizes the new mother

Many proponents of placenta encapsulation talk about a study where rats who consumed their placenta were seen to have modified hormone levels in their body (1). But more research is needed to confirm if the same effect takes place in the human body.

[ Read: Causes Of Postpartum Bleeding ]

The science behind placenta consumption is foggy, to say the least. There are studies that show women who had ingested their placenta, derived some perceived benefits from it. But whether this is just placebo effect at work is something that’s still up for debate (2). Without concrete scientific backing, the fad of consuming placenta capsules and pills remains controversial.

Side Effects Of Placenta Consumption:

Most women have only good things to say about placenta capsules and pills. But there are women who report some negative effects as well. Women report the following after effects of placenta consumption (3):

  • Unpleasant burping
  • Headaches
  • Unappealing taste or smell

Other than these common risks of placenta encapsulation consumption, women feeling feverish or down with an infection are recommended not to consume the capsules until they recover as placenta can make their health condition worse.

Should You Try Placenta Encapsulation?

That is a question only you can answer. If you have the stomach for it and believe in the benefits it has to offer, go right ahead! But not everybody considers placenta consumption the ‘norm’. In fact, recently, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) passed a ruling that classified placenta as a novel food. This makes businesses dealing with placenta encapsulation liable to stricter control and supervision. Many women have decreed this ruling. But the majority has stood by it.

So, if you are in EU, think twice before you go ahead with placenta encapsulation. In other parts of the world, including the US, there are no laws against placenta consumption. With the law on your side, you can hire a professional and turn your placenta into capsules and pills. You can even check online tutorials on how to prepare placenta capsules at home!

[ Read: Postpartum Fatigue ]

Word Of Caution:

There are a few points you should keep in mind before you jump into the placenta encapsulation bandwagon.

1. Contamination:

Before you give birth, your placenta acts as a filter and keeps dangerous stuff away from your baby. These things may still be present in the placenta you are planning to consume.

2. Not ‘Food Safe’:

Do you think it is safe to eat meat left on the counter for a day? Well, the same thing applies to your placenta. It is unlikely that you have everything ready to store the placenta after you give birth. Any delay increases chances of it going ‘bad’ and becoming unfit for consumption. To ensure it stays ‘fresh’, ask somebody to take it home within an hour of delivery. It needs to be stored in the fridge as soon as possible.

An increasing number of women are embracing placenta encapsulation. It’s a trend that’s fast catching up with new mothers. But the numbers are still miniscule. Whether or not you want to join the ranks of placenta eaters is a personal choice. Just make sure you take a call on it based on facts, not on emotions!

What do you think of placenta consumption? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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