We've had a lot of questions about our latest addition to the list of DCMD services- Placenta Encapsulation. Here's the answers you wanted to the questions you didn't want to have to ask!
What are the benefits of consuming the placenta?
Placentaphagy, or the practice of consuming the placenta, is actually not a new trend. Within the animal kingdom, most mammals consume their placenta after birth. There is an admitted lack of scientific evidence, both in favor of, as well as against the practice in humans, though the anecdotal evidence is abundant. It is thought that through consumption, many of the nutrients (iron, calcium, etc) and hormones (oxytocin, hCG, prolactin) found in the placenta may be replenished in the newly postpartum body. Anecdotal evidence suggests benefits of placenta consumption to include increased energy, improved and stabilized mood, lessened risk of postpartum mood disorders, increased milk production, quicker postpartum healing and lessened postpartum bleeding.
What exactly is done to the placenta to 'encapsulate'?
Our encapsulation standards are based upon those of Traditional Chinese Medicine- the placenta is actually a TCM herb used for it's 'warming' effects. We gently steam the placenta with other TCM herbs to reduce the risk of bacteria, then slice and dehydrate. The dehydrated portions are then ground into a coarse powder and put into capsules for consumption.
Where does this process take place?
For the safety and convenience of our clients, encapsulation takes place in the home of the birthing person. This is done to prevent cross contamination both from other client's placentas as well as from other potential germs or allergens present outside of your home. Encapsulating in your home also allows you to have as much (or as little) to do with the process as you desire. It provides a unique opportunity to ask questions of your Postpartum Placenta Specialist, whether about the process or potential benefits of consumption, newborn care or being a new parent in general.
I've just given birth to my baby. Now what?
During your third trimester, your Postpartum Placenta Specialist will have given you a transport kit for your placenta as well as detailed instructions for transport and storage. Depending on the policies of your birthing location, the placenta will either be kept in a cooler on ice or taken out of the birthing location and refrigerated shortly after deliver, typically by a grandparent or other friend/family member. You will notify your PPS, either when labor begins or within 12 hours of the birth, and make arrangements to begin the processing. Your placenta can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days after birth after which time, it may be frozen.
How many capsules will I get?
Generally, a placenta yields somewhere between 80 and 180 capsules. Larger babies or multiples may have larger placentas, thus yielding more capsules. Fun fact- the placenta is approximately 1/6th the size of the baby it nourished!
What is a tincture? How do I use it?
A tincture is an extract of an herb or drug steeped in a high quality alcohol; the most commonly used tincture is vanilla extract. Our clients' tinctures are made with the coarsely ground placenta powder in a high quality vodka. The tincture takes approximately 6 weeks to mature, at which time it can be used on an as needed basis by simply placing a few drops in a liquid or under the tongue. The benefits of a tincture are similar to those which you experienced while taking the placenta capsules initially. The main reason the tincture is such a popular option is because it has an indefinite shelf life (when stored in a cool dark location). Many clients report using it for mood and hormone stabilization during the return of their menstrual cycle.
Does it smell?
Well, yes, but most clients admit it is not in an unpleasant way, and much less than many expected. The raw placenta itself does have a metallic, iron rich scent, as you would expect of any organ. The smell during processing is predominately the steaming herbs. Most clients report the dehydration process does not have any smell at all. The powder and capsules has a faint earthy scent.
How many pills do I have to take?
Different people respond in differently and personal preference can vary. Our recommended consumption guidelines are 2 capsules 3 times a day for the first 3 days, 1 capsule 3 times a day for days 4-10 and 1 or 2 capsules daily until they are gone.
How much does it cost?
Placenta Services are $275 which includes capsules, tincture and a cord keepsake.