Trained and certified through the International Placenta & Postpartum Association (IPPA), I am able to offer many options to a Mother/birther who chooses to consume her/their placenta. Options can include encapsulation, tinctures and salves. A print is also a beautiful way to honour this incredible life giver.
Virtually all mammals consume their placentas after birth. There are important hormones within that support women/birthers to recover more easily after the birth of their baby. I strongly recommend you plan to keep your placenta whether or not you ultimately choose to have it encapsulated to keep your options open.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the placenta?
The word 'placenta' comes from the Latin word 'cake' or disc shaped. Some refer to the placenta as the baby's first birthday cake (gives new meaning to the traditional circle shaped cake served at birthday's doesn't it?!) The placenta is formed from the same sperm and eggs cells that form the baby and has two functions, maternal and fetal. The placenta is a disposable organ attached to the inside of your womb during pregnancy. This incredible organ is the only disposable organ that the human body creates and then naturally discards once its purpose is fulfilled.
When the blastocyst (tiny form of cells that become baby) implant on the uterine wall, placental development begins. The outer layer of the blastocyst becomes the trophoblast which forms the amniotic sac. It wraps around the cluster of cells protecting the developing baby. The common "shush" sounds used to soothe baby after birth, imitates the sound of blood flow from the placenta.
What are the benefits of consuming your placenta?
After consuming their placenta, Mothers/birthers have reported:
an early and continued healthy milk supply
replenished iron and vitamin B stores
increased postpartum energy
decreased risk of postpartum depression and anxiety
decreased need for pain medications
decreased postnatal bleeding
Are there any risks to consuming your placenta?
Most risks revolve around the improper handling of the placenta before encapsulation and not in the ingestion. Reasons the placenta may not be safe for encapsulating:
if your placenta has been taken to pathology or left your eyesight/hospital room. I cannot guarantee that the placenta has been handled properly or been introduced to bacteria or chemicals in the pathology lab, therefor rendering it unsafe for consumption.
if the placenta is not refrigerated properly - your placenta must be stored properly in the fridge or cooler on ice within 4 hours of birth of placenta. See proper storage protocol below.
uterine infection - it is ultimately up to yourself and your care provider to determine if your placenta is safe for encapsulation if you've been diagnosed with uterine infection during pregnancy. If infection is suspected but needs time to be confirmed, you can always freeze the placenta and encapsulate it once your results come back.
I am currently not encapsulating in my home if you have positive HIV, Hep A, B, or C results.
heavy smoking, nicotine use, drugs (cocaine, heroin, and methadone), and alcohol use during pregnancy renders the placenta unsafe for encapsulation.
How do I store my placenta safely?
Bring a hard shell cooler with lid with you to hospital in cases where you will not have a personal fridge in your room (to avoid your placenta leaving your sight to be refrigerated in another area of hospital). I would suggest preparing the cooler and placing next to your prepared hospital bag. When you arrive at hospital, be sure to remind the hospital staff of your wishes to keep your placenta. This can be made easier if you have it also written in your birth preference documentation if you have one. Your partner, doula or midwife/OB should also know your wishes so they can help remind hospital staff when you may be busy meeting your little one. Once the placenta is birthed, it will be checked over by your care provider to ensure it is safe for encapsulation. Your hospital may have their own protocol around storing your placenta (lined paper bag, plastic bag with card board box, etc) but it should never leave your room. You can then place in the cooler on ice. The placenta must be either in cooler or fridge within 4 hours. Text me as soon as possible so I can come to pick up or give you further instructions for safe storing for longer periods of time.
Decide if you are comfortable with your placenta being in your fridge in ziploc bag or a sealable container you can throw out after use. If you'd prefer, you can prepare a hard shell cooler and 1 gallon ziploc bags labelled with your name, and be sure to have plenty of ice pre-made in freezer. Once the placenta is birthed, your care provider will check it over to be sure it's safe for encapsualtion. Once cleared, place your placenta in your ziploc bag or sealable container and place in fridge OR place in ziploc bag and cover in ice in your cooler. Text me as soon as possible so I can come to pick up or give you further instruction for safe storing for longer periods of time.
What if my care provider says my placenta is not safe for encapsulation?
Depending on their reasoning for it to be unsafe for consumption, you may still be able to do a print, use the cord to make a keepsake or choose to bury your placenta in a ceremony to honour this life giving organ. I am happy to speak with you about your options.
What are the methods of encapsulation?
The raw method of placental encapsulation involves cleaning, draining of excess blood and cutting thinly into strips before placing in the dehydrator. Raw food activists believe steaming or heating the placenta could destory some of the nutrients. Using the raw food method creates a very nutrient and hormone dense capsule. It will also produce a higher yield of capsules. If you have a history of bipolar tendencies, anxiety or depression, the raw method is not recommended as you may experience insomnia, the jitters, anxiety or bipolar tendencies when using your capsules.
Basic Heated (or Traditional Chinese Medicine) Method:
Chinese medicine is a philosopical medicine. It is based on one's view of the world. One basic concept is Qi which is translated as energy or life force. In the basic heated method the placenta is prepared using gentle heat whether it is steamed or cooked, then sliced and dehydrated. This method believes that the warmth produced in the placenta through cooking/steaming will translate into the mother after consumpition, keeping her belly warm inside and out. Warming herbs such as ginger, star anise and chili can be added to prepare in the Traditional Chinese Medicine method. Basic Heated or Traditional Chinese method yields less capules than the Raw method but also creates a placental broth that can be use for tea or soups in the immediate postpartum period.
What if I'm induced, have a medicated birth or cesarean birth. Can I still encapsulate my placenta?
Yes! Your particular birth choice or outcomes does not affect your ability to encapsulate.
What if I'm choosing delayed cord clamping? Can I still encapsulate?
Yes! Delayed cord clamping is extremely beneficial to baby - waiting to clamp the cord for just 60 seconds can provide baby with enough iron stores to last their first full year! The cord can still be used for a keepsake or included in your encapsulation.
They want to take my placenta to pathology but that will mean it leaves my eyesight and therefor not qualify for encapsulation. What are my options?
I would suggest asking them to take a small portion of the placenta for testing if required instead of the whole placenta. This is not always an option in some cases, but it worth requesting! If you are wanting a print made, ask that they take the sample from the maternal side.
What if I give birth prematurely? Can I still encapsulate?
Yes! However, in some cases, your care provider may want to send your placenta to pathology to try and find a cause for preterm labour. In this instance you can ask if they could take only a small sample, leaving you most of your placenta to be encapsulated. They must take the sample in your hospital room - if your entire placenta goes to pathology there is no guarantee it has not come into contact with bacteria or chemicals and therefor cannot be encapsulated.
What if I'm vegan?
Veganism involves not eating the by-products of a non-consenting being. In this theory, if it is your own placenta, it is fine. I also use 100% plant derived, no additives, perservative free, Kosher and gluten-free capsules upon request.
Do I have to deliver my placenta to you?
No. Parents have done enough on their birthing day! I ask that you text me as soon as possible after the birth so I can plan to come and pick up. I can pick up from home or hosptial and will return your placenta to you at either hospital or home when it is prepared, typically with 24-48 hours from pick up.
How soon will you pick up after I contact you?
Usually within a few hours. Due to scheduling and life commitments it may be next day but I strive to pick up no later than 24 hours after contact.
What type of supplies are used and how are they sterilized?
I use stainless steel, food grade plastic or disposable items to prepare your placenta. Everything is washed in hot water and anti-bacterial soap and then disinfected in bleach solution for a minimum of 10+ minutes. I then take an additional step to wipe down any items with hospital grade cleaner. I follow the same guidelines for cleanliness and sanitation as food establishments and small laboratories/hospitals per my Blood Borne Pathogens and Food Safe Certifications.
How many capsules will I receive?
Amount of capsules varies depending on size of placenta and method used (RAW vs. TCM). The raw method typically yields 150-200+ capsules. The Traditional Chinese Method typically yields 100-150+ capsules.
How should I take my capsules?
Detailed, personal instructions will be given and explained at drop off.
Typical recommendations may look like the following:
3 capsules, 3 times a day for the first week
2 capsules, 3 times a day for the second week
1 capsule, 3 times a day for the remaining weeks.
It is suggested to keep some capsules for your first menstrual cycle, returning to work or any other times of stress you may encounter within the first two years after birth.
How should I store my capsules and for how long?
It is recommnended to store your capsules in a cool, dark area, such as a cabinet. It is not recommended to store on a windowsill, in direct sunlight or in fridge due to high levels of moisture which can introduce bacterial growth. Capsules are safe for consuming until 2 years post encapsulation. 6 months after birth, it is recommended to store in ziploc bag in freezer.
Is there any time I should NOT take my capsules?
If you have an illness, fever, cold/flu or mastitis it is recommended to stop taking your capsules immediately. Continuing to take them could cause the infection to linger in your system longer. Once your fever or illness is cleared you can begin taking the capsules again.
If you are healthy but experiencing anxiousness, jitteriness, or insomnia, please contact me immediately as you may need to adjust your dosage.
Encapsulation - the process of dehydrating your placenta to be consumed in capsule form. Can be encapsulated using the Raw or Basic Heated method by your choice. I will pick up and deliver back to you at home or hospital. Portions of your placenta can still be used for prints and tinctures for additional cost (see below) ~ $200
Print - a print of your placenta's fetal side or "tree of life" using either natural dyes or food colours depending on your choice. Placenta can then be encapsulated, buried in ceremony, or made into a tincture for additional cost. ~ $20/print
Tincture - a small, raw portion of your placenta is cut and placed in medicine jar with dropper and 100 proof alcohol (gluten free options available). It is left for 6 weeks to ferment. Tinctures are long lasting if stored properly and can be used years down the road for hormone stabilization and energy. Most Mothers/birthers place drops under tongue and hold for 60 seconds. You can also mix drops with a bit of juice. You can choose to print, encapsulate, bury in ceremony, or prepare multiple tinctures with your remaining placenta for additional cost. ~ $40/tincture
I am currently not offering salve products, but check back soon!
(Salve - Placenta salves can be used to lessen scarring, itching and discomforts. It can also be used for hemmorrhoids, perineal tearing, burns, eczema, sunburns and skin irritations. It can also be used on baby (for diaper rash, skin irritations, etc) as long as he/she has no allergies to additional ingredients. Additional placenta can be used to print, encapsulate, bury in ceremony, used in tincture or make multiple salves for additional cost. ~ $40/4 oz)