One of the first questions I always get when talking about placenta encapsulation is “Why would anyone want to do that?!?”
Since I started doing birth work, I have used the question “What would our ancestors do?” as a guiding principle. It has been a way to touch base with what makes the most physiologic sense for women and their babies and a way to trust birth in settings where that is not always the overarching philosophy. This question came back to me as I learned about the various approaches to the placenta in the postpartum. I learned that placenta is commonly used to treat a variety of postpartum ailments in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I learned from homebirth midwives that placenta consumption is one of the most common remedies for heavy bleeding postpartum. Knowing that humans are one of the only mammal species that doesn’t consume its placenta, I began to wonder if we weren’t missing out on an incredibly beneficial feedback loop that our animal ancestors understood on an instinctual level.
YOUR AMAZING PLACENTA!
The placenta rarely gets the respect it deserves. This incredible organ is grown to be temporary. It is fully functional by 12 weeks of pregnancy and is responsible for respiration, circulation, nutrition, waste excretion, and immune and endocrine function. Shedding of the placenta at birth initiates a cascade of important hormonal processes, including uterine contraction and the initiation of lactation. And yet we usually just toss it out without the least bit of thanks! Placenta encapsulation may allow us to receive gifts that the placenta can continue to offer, even after birth.
YEAH, BUT WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE?
Unfortunately, we don’t yet have a wealth of scientific research on the benefits of placenta consumption. (This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, since scientific research is typically funded by the folks who stand to profit from it. Not a lot of profit in women using their own bodies for their health and well-being!) So while my science brain won’t allow me to make definitive claims about the proven benefits of consuming placenta, I will tell you that women who have had their placentas encapsulated report many positive benefits, including:
- A quicker postpartum recovery.
- Increased energy, less postpartum fatigue.
- A decrease in mood swings.
- Greater ease in breastfeeding.
In addition to these reports from women themselves, there has been intriguing preliminary research which has shown possible benefits, including:
- An increase in milk supply.
- Decreased likelihood of postpartum mood disorders.
- Increased postpartum iron stores. In addition to preventing or alleviating the effects of anemia, this may also decrease fatigue.
- Decreased postpartum bleeding.
- Greater overall comfort and healing in the postpartum.
While the benefits of placental supplements are supported by ancient cultural practice and ongoing research, the information presented on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be substituted for medical treatment. None of the services offered are approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Use of placental supplements assumes prior discussion with your healthcare provider. Consult with your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual symptoms. Women and their families who choose to utilize these services take full responsibility for researching and using these services appropriately and use these remedies at their own risk.