The placenta is the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb and helps in the exchange of nutrients, blood and waste with the mother. It is expelled from the uterus after the birth of the child. The custom of consuming the placenta, often done as placental encapsulation, is centuries old which was practiced most often in Chinese medicine. It is considered as a controversial tradition that has been gaining traction in the United States for several decades.
According to the few scientific studies conducted on this have not conclusively supported the effects of this practice, nor have they completely dispelled the possibility of benefits from ingesting the placenta so, the answer is not known properly yet. However, it should be noted by expectant mothers that the majority of the information regarding this comes almost entirely from the anecdotes of women who have tried it.
In this article:
Benefits and Risks of Placenta Encapsulation
What is Placenta Encapsulation?
Placental encapsulation is the practice of ingesting the placenta after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground and placed into pills. Traditionally, this is taken by the mother and is believed to impart numerous health and proposed benefits. It is frequently taken shortly after giving birth, during a woman’s menstrual period or during menopause with the sureness that it helps counter some of the symptoms of menopause and some other added benefits.
Proposed Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation
There is little scientific research available regarding this and consumption and its benefits. Tradition and holistic medical customs give a number of potential advantages which come from ingesting the placenta. Among these possible benefits are –
- 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 post-partum depression levels.
- Restoration of iron levels in the blood.
- Increase in milk production.
Is it Safe?
It appears to carry no inherent risk if ingested solely by the mother. Some mothers have reported experiencing negative and discomforting symptoms such as dizziness or jitteriness after taking the pills. Again, most of the information regarding this practice is amassed from anecdotes and not from research properly. In addition, if taken by other family members or friends, one must be aware of the possibility of passing along blood-borne diseases and other related complications.
Also, if the placenta needs to be sorted for any period of time, it must be kept refrigerated like any other meat product.
Risks of Placenta Encapsulation
It comes with some serious risks that are important to know about –
How to Do it?
This can be done by placenta encapsulation found across the country. These individuals may have completed a variety of possible training courses but be aware and make sure there are no laws governing this practice. There are, however, laws in some states which forbid the parents form removing the placenta from the hospital.
If considering placental encapsulation, it is important to research the techniques used by the chosen facility to ensure the placenta is being handled safely. In addition to encapsulation, some mothers go to consume the placenta by cooking it into foods such as pizza or lasagna or other items. Regardless of the method of ingestion, it is better to treat the placenta as a meat product and make sure it is stored correctly and cooked thoroughly.
There is little research available to either support or oppose the tradition of placental encapsulation. There are a number of proposed and healthy benefits of the custom and limited risks if the placenta is stored correctly and ingested only by the mother.
If placental encapsulation is right for, be sure to contact the doctor to receive more information on the proper procedure for it. It is also important to be aware of any laws in the state that make it illegal to remove the placenta from the hospital.
Talk with the doctor about the choice and make sure the hospital will allow you to have the placenta. Get to know about the benefits and risks involved.