Placenta Ingestion FAQs

Placenta has been used as medicine for centuries, specifically in traditional chinese medicine.  TCM practitioners prescribed placenta infusions and medicine for the postpartum time, for birthing people to restore their qi after childbirth, and for boosting milk supply.  In recent years, placenta encapsulation and ingestion has become more popular in the US.  There are many ways to ingest the placenta, including raw methods: placenta in the cheek after delivery (to help slow bleeding), placenta smoothies, encapsulation, and tinctures.  The ingestions method you choose should be one that you feel completely comfortable with, and is solely up to you.  There is no right or wrong way to ingest your placenta!

What are the reported benefits of ingesting the placenta, and where do the reports come from?

More and more people are encapsulating and ingesting their placenta every year in the United States.  The information we have on the benefits of placentophagia (ingesting the placenta) is largely

anecdotal, which means it comes from accounts and reports from people who have tried it.  Of those that have tried it, most people reported that they experienced benefits from ingesting their placenta.  

 

In a 2013 pilot study by the Unviersity of Las Vegas, 189 people who encapsulated their placenta rated their experiences: 75% said they had a very positive experience, 20% said they had a positive experience, and 5% reported they had a slightly positive experience.  98% of participants reported they would encapsulate again with future pregnancies.

https://lasvegassun.com/news/2013/mar/01/unlv-researchers-author-first-ever-scholarly-repor/

The most commonly reported benefits of encapsulating are:

  • increased human milk production

  • higher energy levels

  • iron restoration

  • reduced incidence of postpartum mood disorders

  • reduction in overall bleeding

  • faster healing

  • regulated hormones

  • increased bonding

What's in the placenta?

The placenta is rich with hormones and nutrients even after preparation and encapsulation.  Below are the hormones are present in the placenta after preparation, as well as how they may help postpartum recovery:

  • Prolactin: hormone that promotes lactation and healthy milk production

  • Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory hormone

  • Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: clotting factors; helps your body regulate bleeding and reduces pain

  • Oxytocin: the "love hormone," responsible for let-down reflex during nursing/pumping, infant bonding, may make opioid receptors more effective thus reducing pain

  • Cortisone: hormone that helps your body use energy more efficiently/opens more enrgy stores, fights stress

  • Interferon: hormore that boosts your immune system

  • Gonadotrophin: the hormone that triggers production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone; helps with hormone regulation

  • Hemoglobin: oxygen carrying protein; helps replenish and restore iron after blood loss during birth

  • Gammaglobulin: boosts the immune system

  • Thyroid stimulating hormone: hormone that regulates metabolic activity; helps boost energy and recover from stress

  • Calcium: nutrient that assists with infant bone development, increases uterine contractility (controls bleeding), and helps prevent the formation of blood clots

  • Iron: blood building nutrient; helps your body carry oxygen to the cells

  • Fat: nutrient responsible for providing the body energy; important for baby's brain health

  • Protein: nutrient responsible for keeping balance within the body, synthesizing energy, and blood building

  • Fiber: nutrient that helps with healthy digestion

Is there anything that would prevent me from being able to ingest my placenta?

The following conditions contraindicate placentophagia:​

  • an active infection during labor/birth (including but not limited to chorioamnionitis)

  • unexplained fever during labor

  • bloodborne diseases (Hepatitis B or C, HIV)

  • active herpes outbreak during labor/birth

  • placenta is sent to pathology for testing

You can still have your placenta encapsulated if you are Group B Strep positive, have meconium stained fluid, have an epidural or other medications during labor, or are having a cesarean section.

Encapsulation with Group B Strep

You are absolutely still able to have your placenta encapsulated if you are Group B Strep positive.  Research has been done on the safety of placentophagia for newborns, and shows that encapsulating and ingesting the placenta with or without Group B Strep causes no harm. 

When following the proper storage and food safety regulations, the risk of the placenta being inoculated and colonized with Group B Strep is incredibly low.  The placenta is then dehydrated at above 160F in accordance with food safety regulations, which eliminates any remaining bacteria.  The steaming process in the TCM preparation method is an extra defense system against bacteria and is a great option for families who are worried about bacterial colonization, however, is not a requirement.​

Information of placenta encapsulation with GBS: https://www.unlv.edu/news/article/study-maternal-placenta-consumption-causes-no-harm-newborns-0

Encapsulation with Meconium Stained Fluid

Baby's first poop - meconium - is completely sterile and causes no harm, nor does it increase the risk of bacterial colonization.  Meconium staining on the placenta will be washed away during the cleaning process.  With moderate to thick meconium staining, the placenta may be soaked in high-proof alcohol to make the meconium more removable.  The placenta can then be processed normally.

How do you receive my placenta, and when will the pills be ready?

I will pick up your placenta from your birth place during daytime hours.  I recommend all clients bring a cooler - disposable (can be found at the dollar store) or reusable (will be fully sterilized by me and returned with your capsules).  Placentas must be placed on ice within two hours of birth, and kept there until pick-up hours.  I will then process your placenta, and deliver it to your home or birth place within 72 hours of pick-up.  Most placentas are processed and ready for delivery within 24-48 hours.

Some hospitals implement a two-hour time limit; if you are planning on taking your placenta home or are releasing it to someone else, it must be off hospital grounds within two hours of birth.  An exception will be made to the daytime pick-up window in these cases.  Please be sure to call me if your placenta needs to be picked up overnight.

What safety procedures are used?

I strictly follow universal precautions, and a full sanitization of the processing space and equipment occurs before and after each and every placenta I process.  Each placenta is labled and packaged independently and safely stored until it's processing time.  I do not process more than one placenta at a time.  All placenta clients have certified that they do not have bloodborne diseases via contract.  I wear PPE equipment whenever handling placenta products.  All processed placentas are encapsulated in sterile vegan caps from a sealed container.  The finished product is immediately packaged and delivered the day of completion. 

How do I take my capsules?  What about storage?

Your package will continue a detailed dosing and storage guide upon delivery.  I recommend that people start low (1-2 capsules per day), pay attention to their body and the response they get, and increase their dose as needed up to 6 capsules per day.  Once you've found the correct dose for you, gradually start weaning down after 2 weeks postpartum.  You can titer your dose back up for rough days, to help with milk supply, etc.  I am always available for questions about how to use your placenta capsules.

Your capsules will be packaged and stored in a light-tight bottle; meaning you do not need to keep it out of the sun or natural light.  Your capsules can be stored at room temperature, next to your bed, in a cabinet, or wherever your prefer.  Do no place your capsules in the refrigerator - this will cause condensation and deterioration of the vegan caps.  Once you've finished your capsules, you can continue to store any leftovers in the freezer.

What processing method is best for me?

The answer to this question is different for everyone, and is dependent upon your personal goals for your postpartum recovery!  Both methods are helpful with the general overview of benefits of encapsulating, however each is said to have stronger affects on different things:

Raw encapsulation has been reported to have more of a mood-enhancing effect.  Many parents report a significant increase in energy and sense of wellbeing.  This method may be ideal if your primary goals are around energy boosting and postpartum mood disorders.

The TCM method has been reported to have a milder effect on mood and energy, and may be a better option for parents who trend towards being more sensitive to medications and supplements.  This method has also been theorized to be a more effective iron restorer.

I offer free consultations about encapsulation methods if you'd like a direct recommendation based on your goals for your postpartum time.  Please reach out to me directly via email, or fill out an inquiry form.

What supplies should I bring to my birthing place?

Please bring a cooler (disposable or reusable) and two ziplock bags to your birth place.  When your birth team is packaging your placenta, please have them double bag it in your ziplocks, and place it on ice within your cooler.  You'll want to ask your team not to use a red biohazard bag, as those bags have additives that will prevent your placenta from being ingestible.

Can I add herbs?

I am not a traditional chinese medicine practitioner, I do not prescribe additional herbs.  I will happily add any herbs provided by you to your steaming pot.

What happens if medical circumstances arise that prohibit me from being able to encapsulate my placenta?

If your placenta is unable to be encapsulated for unforseen reasons, your deposit will be fully refunded and you will not be charged for the service.  Other refund policies and procedures are detailed in the contract signed at the time services are ordered.

To order placenta encapsulation, please click the button to go to the placenta order form.  If you'd like a consultation, please select "inquire."

Britt Jackson, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Placenta Specialist | www.birthservicesbybritt.com | brittthedoula@gmail.com | (612) 275-8438

Featured photography from: Pam Tavernier, Raven Dibble, Raven Ivory Photography + Films, Jess J Larson, Live, Love, Labor MN, Katie Harris, The Jadeite Shutter, Meredith Westin, Meredith Westin Photography