So you keep hearing about placenta encapsulation and after the initial shock wears of when you realize that means eating it, you start looking into it some more. Turns out, it's not yucky at all because the encapsulator takes care of all the bloody stuff and all you get back is a jar with plain capsules in it that you take in your postpartum period.
Sounds good, but is it really effective and is it safe? The problem with placenta consumption is that we have very little research available to us. Many of the studies we do have are small or of poor quality. Melissa Cole, IBCLC, RLC did a great job listing what we know and what we would like to know in this report from 2014. But the fact is, most of what we know about the possible benefits of this practice is what moms who have done it tell us. Anecdotal evidence is not considered very good evidence, nor are case studies.
Yet, in the summer of 2017 the CDC based their recommendation against placenta encapsulation on a single case study in which a newborn got sick from an infection and required hospitalization.The issue with that case was that it was unclear if the placenta had been processed properly and the mother's milk had been tested for the GBS bacteria and come back negative. So unless the mother gave the infant the capsules, how would it have gotten to the baby?
Since so many women swear they have experienced positive results such as more stable hormones and thus better mood, increased energy, increased milk supply and an overall feeling of wellbeing in a challenging time, more women turn to this practice. It makes sense to try something your sister or friend told you about that really benefitted them. So while more research is needed to find out if these benefits are truly caused by placenta ingestion or placebo, we do now have a large study that came out in May 2018 that shows NO HARM to infants.
This is great news! So while you think about how well you have been taking care of yourself, how well you have been eating and avoided toxins during your pregnancy, and how healthy your placenta must be, you can now 'try it out' knowing that even if it doesn't work at least it is safe. No Harm No Foul!
So mommies, please do what you feel comfortable with when you are preparing for your postpartum period. It will be a challenging time making the transition to becoming a parent or adding to your family. Just make sure your encapsulator is trained, adheres to strict sanitation and safe food handling guidelines and is honest with you about the evidence.
At BEST Birth Hawaii we offer stress free encapsulation services. Go here for more info.
And for those of you who have tried it. what was your experience?