It is normal to have questions when you are wondering if processing your placenta into capsules after birth, is right for you during your postpartum healing. Here are some commonly asked questions.
1. I never thought of myself as being one to consume my own placenta, as I am not “crunchy” and I don’t have a “hippy” lifestyle. At the same time, I hear about so many great benefits to placenta encapsulation that I find myself wanting to try it. What are your thoughts on this?
Over the past few years, placenta encapsulation has become increasingly popular. More and more professional placenta specialists are getting certified from overseeing organizations, such as the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (Hart Hayes, 2016). As for the people hiring these specialists, a survey conducted by Selander in 2013 asked 189 women living in the US and Canada about their knowledge and experience with placenta encapsulation. Most of these women knew of placenta encapsulation and the majority of those women had, or plan on having, their placentas encapsulate (Selander, Cantor, Young, & Benyshek, 2013).
2. I have heard that the raw method of encapsulating is better and preserves more nutrients. Is this true?
The raw method and the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) method provide similar nutrition. In a 2000 study by Phuapradit, it was found that male and female placentas have a wide range of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese were also found as well as hormones, such as estradiol (estrongen), progesterone, testosterone, and growth hormone. Interestingly, female human placentas had slightly higher amounts of fiber than male placentas (Phuapradit et al., 2000).
3. Does placenta encapsulation consumption help my mood and energy levels postpartum?
Mothers who have participated in placentophagy, or the consumption of their placenta in encapsulated form, have reported increased energy levels, less moodiness, and decreased severity of the “baby blues.” These reports are supported by research, which shows significant levels of estradiol (estrogen), progesterone, and allopregnanolone, as well as melatonin in a few samples. (Young et al, 2016) It is also reasonable to consider energy levels and mood are increased due to the iron content in the placenta capsules. Throughout the birth and healing process, mothers lose a high volume of blood, and therefore, iron. If enough iron is lost, the mother can develop anemia, which is shown through symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, sadness, or even depression. Placenta capsules are a source of heme-iron, which is the same type of iron found in meat. This type of iron is easily absorbed and used by the body (Corwin & Arbour, 2007).
4. Will placentophagy increase my milk supply?
Many mothers do report an increase in milk supply with the consumption of the recommended amount of placenta capsules. In fact, a study conducted by Soykova-Pachnerova shows that out of 210 participants, 86.2% saw a positive reaction to the treatment of placentophagy as related to their milk supply, while only 13.8% reported negative results (Soykova-Pachnerova et al, 1954).
5. I am hoping to have a smooth and pain free or low pain recovery after birth. Will placentophagy aide in my potential pain level?
β-Endorphin is a natural pain-managing hormone found in the body, produced by the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal response system). Human placentas produce this hormone while in the body and, therefore, have a notable amount still in the tissue at the time of processing. Research is still being done in this area, but it is possible the beta-endorphins remaining in the placenta capsules after processing, can have a positive influence on pain levels and healing (Joseph, Giovinazzo, & Brown, 2016).
Corwin, E., & Arbour, M. (2007). Postpartum Fatigue and Evidence Based Interventions. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 32(4), 215–220.
Hart Hayes, E. (2016). Consumption of the Placenta in the Postpartum Period. JOGNN, 45, 78–89.
Joseph, R., Giovinazzo, M., & Brown, M. (2016). A Literature Review on the Practice of Placentophagia. Nursing for Women’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/362877404/Awhonn-Article
Phuapradit, W., Chanrachakul, B., Thuvasethakul, P., Leelaphiwat, S., Sassanarakkit, S., & Chanworachaikul, S. (2000). Nutrients and hormones in heat-dried human placenta. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet Thangphaet, 83(6), 690–694.
Selander, J., Cantor, A., Young, S. M., & Benyshek, D. C. (2013). Human Maternal Placentophagy: A Survey of Self-Reported Motivations and Experiences Associated with Placenta Consumption. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 52(2), 93–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/03670244.2012.719356
Soykova-Pachnerova, E., Brutar, V., Golova, B., & Zvolska, E. (1954). Placenta Lactagogon. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://www.scribd.com/document/362874752/Placenta-Lactagogon
Young, S. M., Gryder, L. K., David, W. B., Teng, Y., Gerstenberger, S., & Benyshek, D. C. (2016). Human placenta processed for encapsulation contains modest concentrations of 14 trace minerals and elements. Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.), 36(8), 872–878. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2016.04.005
Young, S. M., Gryder, L. K., Zava, D., Kimball, D. W., & Benyshek, D. C. (2016). Presence and concentration of 17 hormones in human placenta processed for encapsulation and consumption. Placenta, 43, 86–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.placenta.2016.05.005