If you are curious about the placenta encapsulation process, why I decided to do it and whether or not I’d do it again if we have another baby, read on!
NOTE: This probably goes without saying, but my decision to encapsulate my placenta was a personal one and may not be right for you. Please do your own research and speak with your doctor before making any decisions regarding your health and healthcare.
When I was pregnant with Chase, I was surprised how anxious I felt and how much I worried about the health and safety of our baby. I read a lot about pregnancy, hormones, postpartum depression and baby blues and since I had my fair share of anxious feelings during pregnancy, I was concerned about how I might feel after Chase was born both from a physical and mental standpoint.
Years ago, before Ryan and I were even remotely thinking of trying for a baby, I remember reading about Caitlin’s experience with placenta encapsulation on her blog. To be honest, it creeped me out just about as much as it intrigued me but it planted a seed in the back of my mind and sparked my interest.
Thanks to blogging, Caitlin became a good friend of mine over the years, so when I eventually got pregnant and we moved an hour away from her, I reached out to Caitlin to learn more about her firsthand experience. She was very positive about the process and the way she felt after giving birth and recommended a local encapsulation service to me.
From there, I started to do my own research and spoke with my doctor about placenta encapsulation. My doctor was supportive of my desire to encapsulate my placenta and that made me feel more secure in my decision.
Why Did I Decide To Encapsulate My Placenta + Benefits
First, it is important to note that there are no large, well-controlled studies out there that report on the effects of consuming the placenta after birth nor have any studies been performed to provide insight into the correct dosage or frequency placenta pills should be consumed for optimal results.
Though placenta consumption is gaining traction in the United States, it is still not a popular practice in Western society but it has been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Placenta encapsulation has been used to alleviate anxiety and fatigue and replace lost iron and nutrients in postpartum women, among other benefits.
The ‘evidence’ supporting placenta consumption is largely anecdotal and historical. Reading this during my research left me feeling a little concerned but as I continued to look into the pros and cons of placenta encapsulation, it became quite clear to me that the possible benefits greatly outweighed the drawbacks, which seemed to center around the fact that encapsulating the placenta seems gross, can be expensive and freaks a lot of people out if you decide to share your decision with others. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “placental encapsulation appears to carry no inherent risk if ingested solely by the mother,” so if it is safe, could help me feel better after birth and my doctor was on board, I figured it was worth it for me to try.
The benefits of placenta encapsulation appear to be numerous and include:
- Restoration of iron levels in the blood
- Increase in milk production
- Increased energy
- 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
- Decrease in postpartum depression levels
How Did I Have My Placenta Encapsulated?
I had my placenta encapsulated by a professional who was certified in placenta encapsulation through PBiU. During my stay at the hospital, my doctor and nurses were aware that I wanted to keep my placenta to have it encapsulated and after delivery, my placenta it was stored for me at the hospital until I was discharged. I then took it home with me to store in the refrigerator until the specialist came to our house to encapsulate it the day after I arrived home from the hospital. (The specialists we worked with did a great job of providing detailed instructions for every phase of the encapsulation process.)
A quick note: At many hospitals, your doctor must sign a medical release form to allow you to bring your placenta home while some hospitals consider the placenta bio hazardous waste and will not allow the placenta to be released to the patient, so definitely discuss this with your doctor ahead of time!
Once we were home, the placenta encapsulation specialist came to our house and, over the course of two days, dehydrated the placenta, ground the placenta down to a fine powder and placed it into pills. The placenta often yields between 100 and 200 pills and the number of pills consumed daily will vary.
How Much Did It Cost?
Prices for placenta encapsulation range but after following a group of specialists in the area, I monitored their Facebook page and paid for the service when they were running a special. I paid $175 and received a discount for booking early on in my pregnancy. Most encapsulation services I’ve seen seem to cost $250-$300.
How Did I Feel? Would I Do It Again?
All things considered, I felt pretty darn good after birth. I do believe that, in retrospect, I had a fairly easy delivery which should not be discounted, but aside from the exhaustion that comes along with feeding an infant every two hours, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt after birth, both from an emotional and physical standpoint. This does not mean things were picture perfect – of course I still had some highs and lows – but overall, I can say I felt better than I expected to after Chase was born. Do I think this had to do with consuming my placenta? I have no idea… But I will absolutely do it again if it can have even the slightest positive effect on me physically and mentally after labor and in the weeks following delivery.