I have been encapsulating placentas for over five years now. Each and every time, I am blown away by how amazing this vital organ is. Each and every time, I feel blessed to have played a small role in a mother’s post-partum experience. These feelings never get old. Each placenta is unique and holds so much energy within it, designed perfectly to nourish and replenish a mother’s body after giving birth. I am awestruck each time I am given the honour to be the encapsulator.
Placenta ingestion is nothing new, although it certainly has become more mainstream in the western world over the past decade. The human placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) arguably since the 1500s. The earliest documentation of placenta used to treat ailments was in the Great Pharmacopoiea of 1596 by Li Shih-chen, although some people claim it had been used for thousands of years before that. I couldn’t find any scholarly articles to back that up though, so we’ll stick with the 1500s. In conjunction with other herbs, the placenta was said to be an excellent tonic that was (and still is) used in TCM to treat syndromes of insufficiency of Yin, Yang, Qi and blood. Such syndromes include anemia, liver, kidney and lung problems, as well as infertility.
Even though the human placenta has been used for so long in TCM, it is still a fairly new practice in North America. The first documented occurrence of placenta ingestion in North America was in the 1970’s, although it is very difficult to find detailed information. According to Young and Benyshek, the practice was promoted by Midwives in Texas in the 1970’s. Over the past 45+ years, the practice has become considerably more popular, with the largest growth in practice being within the last decade. Finding someone to encapsulate your placenta nowadays is pretty easy, whereas even seven years ago it was pretty challenging (depending on your location of course).
The increase in placenta ingestion can potentially be accredited to the increase of information sharing and the easy access to articles, testimonials, and services available on the internet. It is pretty amazing what you can find with just a simple Google search. That said, anyone and their dog (although it would have to be an extremely skilled dog) can make a web site, so it’s important to seek out credible sources, particularly when looking at something somewhat controversial like placenta encapsulation.
So why on earth would you want to encapsulate your placenta? I’m going to make it easy here, and list the benefits in point form:
- Increase in energy
- Increase in milk production
- Decrease fatigue
- Decreased likelihood of baby blues and post-partum depression
- Replenish depleted iron
- Composed of your own natural hormones, making it easier for your body to absorb
- Lessen postnatal bleeding
- Help the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size
- Can be kept and used for future stressful events like moving or menopause.
I knew I wanted to encapsulate my placenta with my fourth baby after speaking with Jodi Selander at the Gentle Birth World Congress. I had experienced post-partum depression (PPD) quite terribly following my previous three births, and I had no reason to expect this would be any different. However, I was not able to find anyone to encapsulate my placenta. I did not end up encapsulating it, and then proceeded to experience what I would call my worst case of PPD to date. It was then that I decided to learn about the art of encapsulating placentas. I wanted to make the service available to ensure that women who were in the same position as myself had options.
Since offering my services, I have received so much positive feedback. Many mothers have come to me excited to share their experience with placenta pills and their post-partum healing. One mother told me that she felt even better than she had prior to becoming pregnant with her first child years before, and that she had struggled with depression ever since then. I love hearing stories like that.
If you’ve decided to encapsulate your placenta, I would recommend finding an encapsulator who has done extensive research and training (cough cough, me if you’re in Calgary, wink wink), and ask as many questions as you need. A few examples of questions include:
- How long have you been encapsulating placentas?
- What process do you use to encapsulate placentas?
- Have you taken the Bloodborne pathogen training in accordance with OSHA?
- What training specific to placenta encapsulation have you taken?
- Where will you be encapsulating my placenta?
- Do you have vegan safe caps available? (if you’re vegan)
- How do I store my placenta after birth until you pick it up?
- Wait, you do pick up, right?
- When can I expect to receive my placenta back in pill form?
The person you choose to encapsulate your placenta should have no problem answering those questions, and it should help you pick someone who will provide the service you desire. If you’d like to see my answers to all these questions, please check out my FAQ page.
I hope you enjoyed reading all about placenta encapsulation, and if you have any questions whatsoever, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
1. Hijikata Y, Kano T, Xi L. Treatment for intractable anemia with the traditional Chinese medicines Hominis Placenta and Cervi Cornus Colla (deer antler glue) Int J Gen Med. 2009;2:83–90.
3. Ober WB. Notes on placentophagy. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1979;55(6):591-599.
4. Young, Sharon M. and Benyshek, Daniel C.(2010) ‘In Search of Human Placentophagy: A Cross Cultural Survey of Human Placenta Consumption, Disposal Practices, and Cultural Beliefs’, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 49: 6, 467-484