What is Placenta Encapsulation?
Many people report beneficial effects of consuming placenta during the postpartum period. The Placenta is high in beneficial nutrients such as iron and has significant hormonal content, both of which can be quite depleted after the birth of a baby. Placenta Encapsulation is the process of preparing, dehydrating, and grinding the placenta and creating capsules that can be swallowed like a dietary supplement. As a science-minded doula, I am happy to discuss with you the evidence that we have to support such a practice. Most people recovering from birth who consume their placenta report feeling an increased sense of well-being, increased energy, and a more even mood. However, the majority of research we have on placenta consumption is anecdotal. The University of Nevada is conducting double-blind placebo effect studies and so far results have been inconclusive about the benefits of placenta consumption.
How does it work?
Typically I will transport your placenta to my home where I will process it. This involves coming to your place of birth with a small cooler. If I am your labor support doula, I would simply take it home with me. If I am not present at your birth, you would call me and arrange a time for pick up. It is most ideal to process your placenta within 3 days of giving birth, or to freeze your placenta if more time is needed before encapsulation. I follow OSHA guidelines for proper handling of human tissue and am licensed to handle food. I prefer to work in my own kitchen, though I am happy to work in your kitchen and walk you through the process if you have a dehydrator or an oven that has a either a drying function or allows you to specify a temperature as low as 140°.
I can prepare your placenta using either a traditional Chinese medicine inspired (TCM) method or the "raw" dehydration method. With the traditional Chinese medicine inspired method, the placenta is steamed with lemon, ginger, and a jalepeño to increase the "warming" effects of the medicine before dehydrating. Human placenta is used for many medicinal purposes in TCM and is believed to bring balance to the "cooling" effect of the blood, fluid, and hormone loss involved in giving life. The "raw" dehydration method involves simply slicing and dehydrating the placenta. This is the process that I use if you do not have a preference. I put the word "raw" in parentheses because I typically will use a warmer than truly raw drying temperature (130-140°) but can easily accommodate a temperature of 115° if you are following a strict raw diet or are concerned about retaining as much potency as possible. The lower the drying temperature, the longer the drying time. The drying time for placenta prepared with the TCM technique is 8 hours, it is 12-24 hours for the raw technique depending on the drying temperature used. I can usually return your placenta medicine within 48 hours of picking it up.
What do I get and what does it cost?
Placentas can vary widely in size depending on gestational age at the time of birth and the size of the baby. One human placenta will typically provide 100-200 capsules. I will also provide a high quality vodka based tincture, an umbilical cord keepsake, and a print or stamp of the placenta on watercolor paper. I am happy to photograph your placenta and document my process as desired.
For clients who have hired me to provide either labor support or postpartum doula care, I simply charge for the time that it takes me to process your placenta. I allow for 3 hours of preparation time (I don't count the time that it is drying) at my current postpartum doula rate. My rate is $105 ($35/hr x 3) for my doula clients. If you are interested in my placenta encapsulation services alone, the fee is $150. I will deliver your placenta medicine in person and provide in person and mobile support as needed. I am interested in your experience and try to stay current on the research. Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.