I Encapsulated My Placenta, Here’s Why

“Encapsulate your placenta? Are you insane?” was the reaction I was expecting from most people when I divulged that I planned to consume my placenta after birth, but to my surprise, most people were supportive and curious. And if they hadn’t been, that was fine, too. This is my body and these are my decisions and what works for one may not work for others, especially when it comes to birth. But for me, for meeee, placenta encapsulation was intriguing and it was something I wanted to do.

What exactly is placentophagy, or placenta encapsulation? Before we dive into that, let’s quickly chat about the placenta. The placenta is the only organ that belongs to two people at the same time. It literally contains half the mother’s blood and half the baby’s blood, and is unique to every mother and baby. The placenta acts as a barrier between the two separate bodies, transferring oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood to the baby, and has the ability to pick and choose what it takes from the mother based on the baby’s needs at that moment. It also produces a cocktail of hormones necessary to sustain a pregnancy and grow a healthy baby, including progesterone, estrogen, cortisone, interferon, POEF (placenta opioid enhancing factor), oxytocin, and HPL (human placental lactogen). Aside from sustaining the pregnancy, these hormones fight stress, stimulate the immune system, stimulate iron production, lessen bleeding, and stimulate mammary function and milk production. Pretty incredible, right?

Now, back to placentophagy/placenta encapsulation. It’s the practice of ingesting the placenta after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills that resemble vitamins. Placentophagy is not something new. It’s a tradition that is centuries old, practiced most often in Chinese medicine but the ‘evidence’ supporting placenta consumption is largely anecdotal and historical. These are the suspected benefits:

Decrease in baby blues and postpartum depression

Increase in supply and quality of breastmilk

Increase in energy

Decrease in lochia, postpartum bleeding

Decrease iron deficiency

Decrease insomnia or sleep disorders

Decreases postpartum “night sweats”

Increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the infant

Increase in CRH, a stress-reducing hormone

While not scientifically proven, these benefits were extremely appealing to me, especially after talking to a handful of women who had done it (including women who had multiple births and different postpartum experiences when they did take it vs. didn’t (i.e. suffered from depression)) and who swear by it. Beyond that, of the more than 4,000 species of placental mammals, there are only a handful that do not regularly engage in placentophagy. That means lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, deer, etc. all instinctively eat their placenta. When we birth the placenta, all the hormones and nutrients produced by the placenta leave our body and it can take months for the brain and body to level out the hormones. If most mammals instinctively counteract this by eating their placentas, why shouldn’t we?

To get my placenta encapsulated I worked with a Certified Professional Midwife named Allegra Hill from Radiant Transitions who specializes in encapsulation and charges $300. After delivering my placenta, we put it in a cooler on ice and within the hour she picked it up to start the process. She also makes tinctures, but I passed on those; pills were enough for me! Two days later, she dropped off the pills and suggested I take 2-4 per day. And so I did and now I’m two months out, almost out of pills (which I’m sad about) and am happy to report that I feel pretty darn good. I haven’t had issues with postpartum depression (knock on wood), breastmilk supply is excellent and energy is up.

What about you, what are your thoughts on encapsulation?

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12 comments

  1. Thank you for writing this post! I don’t have kids yet, but would like to do this too and I don’t have a lot of support. I figure if it’s not too expensive, might help, and definitely won’t HURT anything why not! It’s hard enough to be a new mom.

  2. Hi Geri,
    While I understand the principles supporting your decision, I dont endorse placentophagy. As a pathologist I know theres a lot to learn about a pregnancy, labor and baby health trought a careful examination of the placenta that one would be oblivious to otherwise. It is advised to either examine them all or, at least, refrigerate them for up to 7 days and examine those belonging to mother/infants that dont do as expected after birth.
    Its a personal choice – one of the most personal ones – but I believe it is in the baby’s best interest to do the exam of the placenta, not eat it (I guess examining it and them processing it for pills could be done but really dont know).
    Anyway, I’m glad youre back!

  3. $300 isn’t cheap! Perhaps consider reviewing the evidence first…
    Here’s a study on iron levels in women who did and did not consume their placenta:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27809380. Their finding – iron levels were no different between the two groups.
    There is also a study measuring hormone levels in encapsulated placental tissue … several of the hormones present in higher levels can reduce breast milk production
    http://www.placentajournal.org/article/S0143-4004(16)30095-9/fulltext#sec3.

  4. It’s not like she ate it on the delivery table. Doctors routinely check the placenta after birth, and if even a tiny piece is missing, they have to perform a procedure to remove that piece or there is a great risk the mother would bleed out or develop an infection. So, no worries about that.

  5. I wish I had that knowledge when you and C were born!Grateful science has come this far that women have choices to better their postpartum experience.Most importantly that you had the where with all to investigate your options!xoxox

  6. SORRY BUT NOOOOOO!!!

    DIDN’T NEED TO EVEN READ THIS POST…
    im a latina , from NY and this just sounds like stupid shxt white people do

    …went back and skimmed the post but sorry still NO!

    in an effort not to be offensive …like you & yr posts ….but in a world where many are starving white women are eating their placenta …absolutely ridiculous!

  7. 1) seems odd to shame someone spending $300 on a custom supplement on this blog, which certainly features other expensive beauty products and fashion items (but commendably NOT in a conspicuous consumption kind of way); 2) you know, saying “look at the evidence” goes only so far, all studies need to be evaluated, not all studies are up to the same standard — so don’t just go by studies other people site, do your own research and evaluate the quality of the research as well; 3) glad to hear you did and had success with the placenta encapsulation, I did it, too, for $250; I remember rationing the last few days worth! Thanks for sharing, being open and transparent; we are lucky to have you share some of the most intimate aspects of your life with us; enjoy this precious time! Congrats!

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