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Placenta Consumption - what's that all about?
Bryena Chapman of www.placentials.com answers all the questions around consuming your placenta after birth.
Why would I want to eat my placenta? What are the benefits?
There are many different reasons for a women to be drawn to placenta consumption. Most women hear about placenta encapsulation when looking for ways to help prevent postpartum depression. Others (such as myself) are already on iron supplements and are searching for amore natural, easy on their system way to take iron. Yet some who have had issues in the past with milk production may be searching for ways to increase milk production for future births. Some simply can't imagine throwing out the placenta, something that has been such a big part of the entire baby process. I remember my midwife going through all my "placenta" options and when she said "or we can just dispose of it" I felt really sad & hurt, it was too important to "just dispose of".
As for the benefits, there has been very few scientific studies done on the benefits of placenta encapsulation. However the studies that have been done have found that consuming your placenta will boost your iron, which will in turn ward off postpartum depression (by taking the exhaustion factor out), and that it does indeed produce more milk.
If I decide to encapsulate, what do I do with the placenta straight after birth?
Once your placenta has been inspected by your midwife or doctor they can place it in a container or bag and put it in the fridge. If you are birthing at the hospital have a nurse fill a bag with ice chips and place it with the placenta to keep it cool. You or someone from your birthing team can call me right away, unless of corse it's the middle of the night then I ask that you hold off on calling me until morning.
How and when do you pick up the placenta?
I'll come pick up your placenta right away. The process takes about 24 hours, so I'll drop the pills back off when all is done. I'll come to your home or hospital, wherever you are birthing.
What's the process of encapsulation, simply put?
My process begins with steaming the placenta, I also add a bit of lemon & ginger to the water. Then dehydrate (with a dehydrator that is only used to encapsulate placentas, as are all of my tools), then grind and put into capsules. All of my materials are used only for placenta encapsulating and are immediately cleaned using a bleach solution, then put away until the next encapsulation.
Placenta is essentially raw meat isn't it? In which case is the encapsulation process safe?
Encapsulation is very safe as the "meat" (placenta) is first steamed. This "cooks" the placenta, then it's dehydrated. You can store your pills in the freezer indefinitely, if you are taking the pills on a regular basis they are best stored in the fridge. However, just as beef jerkey never goes bad neither will your dehydrated placenta. I have taken the PBi (placenta benefits.info) course on placenta encapsulation. I also have my OSHA bloodborne pathogens certification.
Will it taste of anything?
I have heard some women say they experienced "placenta burps", however I have never experienced this & I consumed both my placentas. The placenta is steamed with lemon and ginger to aid in the possibilities of an after taste. Also ginger is nice on your stomach and digestion.
Do you add any medicinal herbs?
I do not add anything. The placenta is simply steamed with lemon and ginger, neither are actually dehydrated or ground up with the placenta.
What are the capsules made from?
I use veggie capsules as many people are vegetarian. They are made up of HPMC (hidroxy, propyl, methyl, cellulose).
How long before I get my pills back?
The process takes approximately 24 hours. It's optimal that you begin consuming your pills within 48 hours of giving birth. This will help bring your milk in.
How many pills will I get?
It varies on your placenta's size, anywhere from 150-200 pills is average.
When do I take the pills and how many should I take?
Depending on your own level of fatigue you should take from 1-2 pills 2-3 times a day. You want to take them for about the first 6 weeks postpartum, and again depending on your level of fatigue you may want to continue taking them longer or quit taking them sooner. You can take them at any time, maybe your baby is teething and you aren't getting any sleep 6 months down the road, you can begin taking them again at that time to help get you through that stage. I began taking mine again once I returned to work after my year mat leave was up as I felt that I wasn't producing enough milk being away from my baby.
Can I eat my placenta any other way?
There are other ways of consuming your placenta. Some women simply cook it up, others add a small piece of raw placenta to their smoothy. I find encapsulation to be a great long lasting, easy way to consume placenta.
Bryena Chapman is the founder of www.placentials.com and is Victoria, BC's local placenta encapsulator.