Encapsulating and supplementing with your placenta
What to Know
- Learn what encapsulating your placenta means
- Understand the risks and benefits of encapsulated placenta
The placenta is an amazing organ that forms anew with each pregnancy, unique to each mom and baby pair. It connects the growing baby to the uterine wall, passing oxygen and nutrients and removing waste through the umbilical cord. The placenta is then expelled from the uterus (and your body) after the birth.
The eating of the placenta postpartum, called placentophagy, is an ancient practice that has become more popular recently, as people (including celebrities) have drawn attention to the belief that eating it conveys powerful health benefits. While people have eaten placentas that have been baked, sautéed, broiled or roasted, most commonly the process involves steaming, dehydrating, grounding and finally encapsulating the placenta to be ingested as a pill.
While several organizations offer placenta encapsulation, know that there are no guidelines or regulations regarding the practice.
Most of the information currently available regarding encapsulated placenta comes from anecdotes of women who have tried it. Few scientific studies have been conducted (more rigorous studies were conducted with rats and not humans), and no conclusive evidence exists to support or refute the practice. Proponents cite cultural tradition, however a cross-cultural survey of 179 human societies demonstrated that in fact, placentophagy is new to human practice.
Holistic medical customs embrace a number of potential benefits from placenta encapsulation
However, scientific evidence tells us to be cautious of the many “unknowns” of placenta encapsulation including risks of accumulation of harmful pollutants and even harbor bacteria. There is also lack of scientific evidence as to whether placenta can be beneficial
What to Do
Make an informed decision
Consider other dietary supplements with proven and documented benefits and weigh these options against taking encapsulated placenta.
Consult with your healthcare provider before taking any kind of supplement
As with any other supplement, first speak with your doctor.
If you decide to encapsulate and ingest your placenta, take precautions to avoid contamination
If you need to store your placenta, keep it refrigerated as you would any other meat product. If you choose to ingest your placenta, make sure it is cooked thoroughly as you would any other meat product.
Placenta encapsulation should be done at a facility that follows proper hygiene and safety handling techniques.
If you are dealing with postpartum depression or you suspect it, consult with your doctor
Postpartum depression is a serious condition and should be treated accordingly.
Coyle, C.W., Hulse, K.E., Wisner, K.L. et al. Arch Womens “Placentophagy: therapeutic miracle or myth?” Ment Health (2015) 18: 673. Date accessed 24 July 2018.
“Placenta Encapsulation” American Pregnancy Association. Date accessed 24 July 2018.
Young SM, Benyshek DC “In search of human placentophagy: a cross-cultural survey of human placenta consumption, disposal practices, and cultural beliefs.” Ecol Food Nutr. 2010 Nov-Dec;49(6):467-84. doi: 10.1080/03670244.2010.524106. Date accessed 24 July 2018.