August 27, 2012

Placenta Encapsulation Workshop

Saturday I attended a Placenta Encapsulation workshop, hosted by a local healthy/eco-baby boutique, Granola Babies, but encapsulation services and information were offered by Confident Beginnings.

So, Placenta Encapsulation actually means making your placenta into pills.You request to keep your placenta after giving birth (the hospital will store it for your until you are discharged) and deliver it to this service (or they can pick it up for a fee). The service will then remove the umbilical cord, steam it (with adding only spices - ginger and myrrh), and dehydrate the placenta, pulverize it and fill (vegetable) capsules with the results.

According to Angelique, who gave the workshop, humans are the only mammals that don't eat placentas after birth (although some obviously do). She also said that the placenta contains iron, B6, and protein that can help lift your mood and renew your energy after birth.

Depending on how quickly you can have your placenta released to you (could be as late as 72 hours after discharge if you give birth in a hospital, or as soon as immediately if you deliver at home) Confident Beginnings can have it made into capsules in most cases in 24 hours. Which means you can begin taking them 4-5 days after birth, preventing the onset of "baby blues" that usually settles in around 3 weeks. They also touted to help promote lactation (and are thought to add B6 to mother's milk, too). The capsules come with instructions on how often to take how many for the first few weeks, and then they can be taken as needed, or, according to Angelique, some women are storing any remaining capsules in the freezer in hopes of helping later with menopause.

Encapsulated placenta isn't meant to replace taking a prenatal vitamin after birth (as is often recommended by your doctor), but rather to complement. Angelique estimates that the average placenta makes between 120 and 150 capsules. The service costs $150 ($100 additional for pick up of placenta). Her business partner, who does the encapsulation, is certified to do so, and is also certified to handle food, and is trained in blood borne pathology and infection prevention.

If this is something you are planning, and you are giving birth in a hospital, you may have to be very persistent in your request to keep it, since the normal routine is to discard it, it would be easy for any person involved in the birth to be out of the loop or forget. Angelique suggests bringing a small cooler with you to the hospital, and a Tupperware container and delivering the placenta to them this way, with an ice pack.

She mentioned that this topic was recently on the Dr. Oz show, and his opinion was actually that there wasn't benefit to eating the placenta. Angelique suggests that other ways to try to keep up your energy and ward off baby blues include eating when your baby eats, sleep when they sleep, and limit the number of visitors you have.

I googled around a bit and couldn't find any real scientific studies or papers to support the benefits of eating one's placenta (if you come across one, please share!).

What do I think? Husband is still highly grossed out by the idea, so pretty against it. However, many of the women attending the seminar had experienced baby blues or full on postpartum depression after previous birth and were pretty desperate to avoid it with a current pregnancy. While I can say that I felt that having a newborn was certainly different than anyone could have described to me, and pretty involved and draining at times, I fortunately didn't experience postpartum depression, so I am not the same is at stake for me. And given all that is involved with a newborn (that will be coupled with the toddler we have), I just don't see us taking the time to deliver a placenta to have it processed. I still find the idea to be intriguing. An organ that was so valuable to my baby, that is still intact after birth, seems like a shame to waste...?

What do you think? Did you eat your placenta? Would you?

1 comment:

  1. I did it. I have done stranger things though (like eating deer antlers to try to get pregnant- long story!) but I admit it was odd. Couple of thoughts: I never had lactation issues. No supply issues from the start. Did it help? I don't know as this was my first full term birth so I have nothing to compare to. I definately had post baby blues, but I think really more than depression it was life coping from going from one child to two, a crazy demanding job and a husband who traveled all the time.

    I think it's something worth trying. I mean it could help and if it could, then it is worth try to me. However, talk to your OB about it in depth. My hospital wouldn't release it to me easily, and I wish I had talked to them more. I ended up delivering by c/s, and in that case, it is even harder to get the placenta back. Just ask, ask, ask all the way through. I also had a doula who took care of this for me so I didn't have to worry about it.

    I've heard arguments on both sides- some say it's gross and not helpful. Others swear by it. I think it is a personal choice but I am interested to hear what you decide and how it works out for you!