This journey to becoming a Doula has provided me so much information on various subjects. One requirement before certification is to develop a list of local community resources for my clients. I am currently working on this list and of course I am including resources for placental encapsulation. So what exactly is this and what are the benefits?
Placental encapsulation involves the drying of the placenta and grinding it into a powdered form within a few hours after birth and pouring it into a vegetable capsule for consumption. Basically, it’s your placenta in a pill! You simply swallow the placenta capsule as you would your morning vitamins. The placenta is large enough to produce a 30 – to – 60 day supply of placenta pills. Just a little history for you, the custom of consuming the placenta is centuries old, practiced most often in Chinese medicine. This practice has been gaining traction in the United States for the past few decades.
The majority of information we have on placental encapsulation regarding benefits is through testimonies of women who have tried it. There are few scientific studies on placental encapsulation. These studies don’t conclusively support the effects of this practice nor do they completely dispel the possibility of benefits from ingesting the placenta.
The possible benefits.
Release of Oxytocin
The American Pregnancy Association states that some cases ingesting the placenta has been shown to boost the release of the feel – good hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin helps with stabilizing your mood and helps return the uterus to its normal size while facilitating bonding with your baby. While placenta pills may supplement your oxytocin levels, the best way to increase oxytocin and bond with baby is through good, old-fashioned touch.
Help for Postpartum Depression
Studies suggest as many as 15% of postpartum mothers develop some form of depression that can make the everyday demands of nurturing a baby seem almost impossible. There is anecdotal evidence that consuming the placenta may help ease symptoms of postpartum depression. Many women swear by placenta pills for curing postpartum depression though it hasn’t been scientifically proven. If your postpartum depression is severe and you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby it is critical that you seek immediate professional help.
After a few days of taking my placenta capsules I definitely noticed that I had more energy, was more motivated, I was just finding it easier to get things done.
Increased Iron Levels
After birth iron levels are often depleted, which can lead to lack of energy. Anemia, which stems from low iron levels, can be a problem for some new moms. Iron deficiency can result in insufficient milk and can also lead to urinary tract infections. Low iron levels don’t only cause physical symptoms but can contribute to irritability and postpartum depression.
The bottom line is there is little research available to either support or oppose the tradition of placental encapsulation. There are a number of proposed benefits and very limited risks if the placenta is stored correctly and ingested only by the mother. Contacting your healthcare provider is the first step to receiving more information on the proper procedures. Some states have laws that make it illegal to remove the placenta from the hospital so it is important to be aware of your state specific laws.