In 2010 medical anthropologist Dr. Daniel Benhysek published a study in which 189 women were interviewed about their experience with placenta consumption. The overwhelming majority of these women, 96%, reported it had been very positive and they would do it again if they had another baby. But hold on, did that say ‘placenta consumption’? Yes, you read that right. Let me explain.
What is placenta encapsulation?
In placenta encapsulation the placenta is used to make a nutritional dietary supplement. That’s it. But why, you ask? The placenta is a very particular organ and is created to not only sustain your baby’s life in utero, but to help your baby grow and develop in all the right ways. It provides oxygen, all the right nutrients and hormones for 9 months while your baby grows inside of you. This incredible organ is designed by your body for your baby and without it life would not exist. It’s a shame to throw it away just like that, wouldn’t you agree?
So, what’s IN the placenta?
There is still a lot we need to learn, but we do know the following nutrients and hormones are found in it: Study Abstract
Vitamin B6 (helps in making antibodies)
Vitamin E (for the healing of damaged skin cells)
Oxytocin (a.k.a. the love hormone, essential for facilitating the birth, breastfeeding, and bonding)
Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (reduces stress)
Prolactin (promotes lactation/milk supply)
Various other hormones
There have not been many satisfactory studies done on the benefits of taking placenta capsules. However, anecdotally the positive responses have been overwhelming in thousands of women.
It can provide emotional balance
It may replenish hormones and nutrients
It may promote a healthy milk supply
It could give energy and combat fatigue
It may reduce postpartum bleeding
It may prevent Baby Blues.
Placenta Ingestion Risks.
These side effects are rare, but have been reported and may be corrected with a change in dosage:
Oversupply in milk
Other risks have to do with hygiene and preparation methods. At BEST Birth Hawaii our placenta encapsulators are trained, not only in the process itself, but also in blood borne pathogens and safe food handling. All universal protocols with regards to hygiene and safety are always followed for your and our wellbeing.
What does the research say?
Not much and that is a problem. At BEST Birth Hawaii we pride ourselves for being up to date on current evidence based information. However, there is little scientific research done on placenta encapsulation. Fortunately, more and more small studies are being published. Melissa Cole, IBCLC, RLC does a really good job staying objective in an article she published in 2014. It discusses history, reasons, culture, research and more and I highly recommend you read it before making a decision on encapsulating your placenta. The article has a valuable list of resources as well and can be found here.