Do WHAT With My Placenta??

So you're expecting a baby, and everyone is giving you advice. 
"You need this stroller; it's a lifesaver!" 
"Make sure baby eats every 2 hours!"
"Don't use that brand of diaper! You'll have poop explosions; they leak!"
"You have to encapsulate your placenta! I did, and it was wonderful!"

Wait, what was that about a placenta? 

Placenta Encapsulation is a way of ingesting the placenta, and it's a decision that's gaining popularity. It may sound bizarre, but the placenta is filled with hormones that can benefit many new mothers. 

Generally, Placenta Encapsulation involves processing the placenta into a dry, fine powder. The powder is then put into empty capsules so that the client can take the capsules just like a vitamin. There are also other ingestion options which may include taking the placenta as a tincture or in raw smoothies. 

Why would someone eat their placenta? 
Many new moms report benefits from ingesting their placentas. Benefits can vary person to person, but some of the most common reported include an increase in energy levels, balanced mood, increased iron levels, increased milk supply, and lower incidents of postpartum depression. There have been a few scientific studies into these benefits, but most of the information available is anecdotal. One of the main theories is that since the placenta is partially the mother's hormones, these can help balance her hormone levels after the sudden drop that occurs after the birth. Also, since the placenta is basically a form of red meat, it can help boost iron levels. Again, results may vary, and the FDA has not researched or approved placenta encapsulation as a way to treat or prevent anything. 

Are there any negatives or side effects?
The majority of our clients never have any issues. In the general population of people who try placenta encapsulation, a small percentage do report that they have a decrease in milk supply. It is also possible that one may experience a burst of shaky energy (similar to caffeine jitters) if they are taking too much placenta at once. Again, this is not common and can normally be eliminated by taking fewer capsules at once. 

Raw Prep, Heated Capsules, Traditional Chinese Method...What's the difference?
There are multiple ways to prepare the placenta prior to making it into capsules. Each has their own pros and cons, and preparation methods may vary encapsulator to encapsulator. 
Raw preparation means dehydrating the placenta at temperatures between 115-118F. Heating at these lower temps is thought to preserve more of the nutrients since heat can denature some of the beneficial nutrients, but these temperatures are not high enough to kill off potentially harmful bacteria. Because of the bacteria risk, Little Orchids does not offer raw preparation. 
The Traditional Chinese Method (TCM) involves steaming the placenta prior to dehydration. Adding more heat by steaming is thought to add hot "yang energy" to help balance the cold "Yin energy" thought to be prevalent postpartum. Depending on the practitioner, some will add herbs to the steaming placenta thought to help promote postpartum healing. The placenta is then dehydrated at temperatures that vary by practitioner. Steaming can help kill more of the surface bacteria on the placenta. Steaming the placenta may produce fewer capsules since the processing loses additional mass. At Little Orchids, we do not add anything to your placenta, and we dehydrate at 160F to maintain food safety guidelines. 
Heated preparation means that the placenta is dehydrated at temperatures high enough to kill off any bacteria. This is normally done for a longer period of time than other preparations - usually 12-24hours. This can produce a safer product, but the additional heat can very slightly lower the nutritional benefits. This is the default preparation method at Little Orchids unless TCM is requested. 

How do I plan to encapsulate my placenta? 
The first step would be to locate a local placenta encapsulator. It is beneficial to do your research; placenta encapsulation is completely unregulated, so training and processing standards vary wildly. At Little Orchids, our encapsulator is a Certified Postpartum Placenta Encapsulation Specialist who maintains ServSafe Foodhandler certifications as well as Bloodbourne Pathogens certification. Safety is our number one consideration, and we want to ensure a safe product for our clients. 
Once you've chosen your encapsulator and confirmed they're available for your due date, you can start their booking process. At Little Orchids we offer the options of meeting for a consultation or just directly booking online through our website. 
After you've booked, your encapsulator will follow their specific procedures for pick up and processing of your placenta. At Little Orchids, we give clients a handout of instructions for safely storing the placenta until pickup, how/when to contact us for pickup, and guarantee the return of completed placenta products within 72 hours of pickup. 

Placenta Encapsulation can be beneficial for many mothers, and it's a great thing to consider. It is important to find an encapsulator you're comfortable with who provides the processing options you want, so begin your search in advance whenever possible. Have any questions for our encapsulator? Contact us today!