There are believed to be many benefits for a postpartum mother including; but not limited to:
Increased Mother-Infant Bonding
Reduction of Postnatal Bleeding
Helps Prevent Postpartum Depression
Reduced Postpartum Pain
Quicker Postpartum Recovery
Robin Lim, Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra. (Bali, Indonesia: Half Angel Press, 2010)
Does it help my baby too?
A placenta tincture has been found to help with newborn colic and ease childhood diseases such as whooping cough, fever, and rash. Additionally, if you have a daughter, it can also help ease her discomfort once she begins her menstrual cycle. Cornelia Enning, Placenta: The Gift of Life. (Eugene, Or.: Motherbaby, 2007)
Can it help with the "baby blues" &/or postpartum depression?
In a short answer, yes. The placenta contains many hormones and chemicals which are believed to help with the baby blues during the postpartum period. During the final trimester of pregnancy the placenta secretes three times the normal amount of the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). This also increases cortisol in the blood stream. Cortisol helps us perform well under stress which may be why the body produces so much right before labor and delivery. In a study done by George Chrousos, women showed low levels of CRH in the six weeks following birth. These levels were as low as what is seen in some forms of depression. This is because once the placenta is birthed the body must re-regulate these levels and no longer has that supplementary source of CRH from the placenta. Additionally, it is very common for iron levels to be low after birth. Iron levels and anemia are associated with fatigue, irritability, and apathy. In an article titled, Postpartum Fatigue and Evidence-Based Interventions, they described these very factors as common presentations of PPD. Luckily, the placenta contains a thyroid stimulating hormone, cortisone which helps combat stress and gives energy, as well as hemoglobin which replenishes iron deficiency and anemia.
Can I still encapsulate if I had a c-section, pitocin, or an epidural?
Yes, epidural anesthesia and pitocin break down very quickly after entering the placenta so will have no noticeable effect on your placenta remedies. In the event that you have a c-section your placenta will still be useable as long as you take care that it is stored and treated properly before pick up.
Will the hospital release my placenta?
All of the hospitals and birthing centers in my surrounding area will release your placenta to you if you follow their policies and are sure to request the placenta release form(s). I have a list of individual policies if you are unsure of your chosen birthing facilities procedures.
I adhere to a raw diet. Can I still encapsulate? In the Traditional Chinese Method the placenta is steamed before dehydration; however, for a raw diet you may choose to forgo the steaming step and I will dehydrate your placenta raw. In the raw foods movement, lower temperatures are sought to protect micronutrients in fruits and vegetables. Raw foods are preferred to be kept under 160 degrees. However, USDA meat guidelines clearly identify that anything less than 160 degrees can risk illness. Therefore, the Raw Method is not based on the Raw Foods Diet as their protocols are not safe or applicable for meat consumption.
Are placenta remedies considered cannibalism?
The placenta gives life to your baby and helps him/her grow for their entire gestation period. After your baby is born his/her body no longer needs the placenta in order to survive. The placenta is not a human being and no one died in the process of creating such a wonderful and beneficial organ. As Robin Lim stated, "How can it be cannibalism, when it is the only meat we can get from birth, rather than meat obtained by killing a sentient being?" (Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra, p. 120)
If we're supposed to eat it why isn't it appetizing/appealing or instinctive for us to?
There are many cultures who still practice placentophagia today. In Western culture; however, we have a learned response that the placenta is merely medical waste. Luckily, since the 1980's it has been regaining popularity in the United States after Raven Lang, a midwife and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, re-introduced this practice to American midwives at a conference. Placenta medicine has been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries and many women in the US are discovering the benefits now as well. Some women have reported that the placenta is appealing to them following birth and will even ingest pieces of it raw, cooked in a meal, or in a smoothie. If this does not feel instinctive or appealing to you encapsulation would be a wonderful way to get the healing benefits of the placenta without the potential "yuck" factor.
I'm a vegetarian/vegan so will this go against my diet?
The placenta is the only form of meat that we can obtain by giving life and without the potential violence of killing. No sentient beings are harmed in the creation of the placenta or the use following birth for encapsulation. Many studies have found that even herbivorous mammals ingest their placenta, membranes, and fluids following birth. Additionally, I use vegetarian capsules so no animals will be harmed for the process of encapsulation.
Don't animals only eat it for cleanliness &/or to protect themselves from predators?
Almost all non-aquatic mammals participate in placentophagia. Even our very comfortable and safe household pets will consume their placenta, membranes, and fluids following the birth of their babies. Additionally, there are animals that may not be considered clean to the human mind that still ingest their placenta. Left in their natural state most mammals will ingest their placenta even if there are no predators present and a human has given them a clean environment to birth in.
If we need all of the nutrients/chemicals in the placenta why isn't it a more common practice?
According to one animal study, ingestion of the placenta is not necessary for normal maternal behavior. However, this does not at all limit the many benefits that the placenta has for a postpartum mother and her healing process. It has been speculated that animals ingest the placenta because of hunger and/or a need for the depleted nutrients that can be replenished with the placenta. If that is the case wouldn't it follow suit that human mothers need those same benefits? Again, most of Western culture has a negative learned response to the placenta and has made it more commonplace to see this wonderful organ as medical waste. In the age of information, mothers are beginning to seek and read up on their postpartum options and with that placenta encapsulation and other placenta remedies are becoming increasingly more popular.Michelle Beacock states in the British Journal of Midwifery, "Since the 1970s, Western countries have witnessed placentophagy occurring more regularly as it is viewed as a preventative health measure and/or a celebration of the placenta's significance".
Beacock, Michelle. "Does Eating Placenta Offer Postpartum Health Benefits?" British Journal of Midwifery 20.7 (2012): 464-66.
How can we know it is effective for humans if most of the research was done on animals?
In the same article, Michelle Beacock says it best:
"Most knowledge of placentophagy is drawn from animal research, particularly on rats. Animals are often used as a precursor to human research and it is widely accepted that animal research informs knowledge of human anatomy and functions." Additionally, UNLV is currently completing the first double-blind study done on placentophagy and the results are set to be released later this year.