The placenta is a valuable organ that ensures proper nourishment of the fetus in the womb. It passes nourishment from the mother’s body to the fetus. Placenta encapsulation is a process that stops the disposal of placenta as medical waste. In other words, the process promotes the use of the placenta in dehydrated or powdered form for combatting certain conditions faced by mothers in the postpartum stage.
But is this process really worth it? What are the benefits and risk factors associated with it? How is it done?
Here is a complete overview of placenta encapsulation. Read on.
What Is Placenta Encapsulation?
Placenta encapsulation is the process of making placenta pills by using streamed and dehydrated placenta. When the steamed and dehydrated placenta becomes dry, it is transformed into fine powder and filled into capsules.
Placenta encapsulation has become a point of discussion considering the effective roles of stem cells in transplants and making regenerative medicines.
The placenta is indeed a miracle organ, being packed with essential minerals, vitamins, and pregnancy hormones that have a major impact on the mental health of a new mother.
There is little scientific research or evidence to establish the efficacy of placenta encapsulation for the alleviation of complications in the postpartum stage. Still, many women in the USA and other industrialized nations are going for this method.
What Is Placenta Encapsulation For?
Placenta encapsulation is used for fighting postpartum depression and stabilizing the new mother’s mood. These pills or capsules are also used to improve a mother’s breastmilk flow and boost the uterus’s reshaping.
Placenta stem cells are also used for making regenerative medicines.
Is It Okay To Eat Your Placenta?
There has been a use of capsuled placenta in dried or steamed form in Chinese traditional medicines. However, this trend of eating placenta or placentophagy is a result of recent social media hype and an emerging trend in the USA.
Otherwise, the placenta was used as a powder for filling amulets used as good luck charms. Placenta was also used in cosmetics and skin care products to fight wrinkles.
Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe For Everyone?
The patrons of placenta encapsulation project it as a safe and effective method to fight postpartum depression. However, you have to consider risks like infections, contaminations, and blood clotting before opting for this treatment.
The risk factors associated with placenta encapsulation are massive because there are no standard practices for dried and dehydrated placenta encapsulation.
Further, under certain circumstances, placenta encapsulation will not be applicable.
- In emergency deliveries, the placenta is usually disposed of. So, there are no possibilities of preserving the placenta.
- Infections during pregnancy or the postpartum stage ruin the efficacy of the placenta. In such cases, the placenta stem cells cannot be used for making regenerative medicines or other treatments.
- Any damage to the placenta during the pregnancy period can also increase the risk of using the placenta in pills or capsules. A damaged placenta needs to be examined thoroughly to eliminate the risk factors.
So, despite popular opinions, placenta encapsulation is unsafe for everyone or every medical condition.
How Is Placenta Encapsulation Done?
Placenta encapsulation is done by doulas, medical facilities, and companies. Some mothers also rely on online instructions and guides to make placenta pills at home. Going the DIY way for placenta encapsulation is a big No-No.
Here is how it is done.
- The placenta is collected and steamed.
- The steamed placenta is dehydrated and transformed into powder.
- The placenta powder is sealed in capsules, looking like vitamin pills.
Along with placenta encapsulation, there are other methods of consuming placenta. Let’s know about them in the next section.
What Are The Other Methods Of Eating Your Placenta?
Many new moms take placenta smoothies instead of placenta pills to enjoy better blood iron and oxytocin levels and fight postpartum depression. Many ingredients are used in these smoothies so that the raw or ironic taste of the placenta does not cause discomfort.
Some moms also get the placenta dried and ground into powder and consume the same with milk.
The method of consumption, however, does not interfere with the efficacy of the placenta.
What Is Placenta Encapsulation Cost?
Before I tell you about the encapsulation placenta cost, I must warn you against doing this at home. If you plan to get a placenta encapsulation kit and make the capsules on your own, you are inviting major risks for you and your baby.
The ingestion of placenta encapsulation is always recommended immediately after giving birth. Some also take help from doulas for the process.
Nevertheless, based on the process you follow and the medical facility you visit, the placenta encapsulation cost will be between $125 and $500.
Placenta Encapsulation Pros And Cons
Placenta encapsulation seems an excellent method, helping combat postpartum conditions. Also, placenta stem cells are very effective for making regenerative medicines. However, this popular method has some serious drawbacks and health risks.
The risks associated with placenta encapsulation are many, from bacterial and viral infections to environmental toxicity.
Benefits Of Placenta Encapsulation
Thanks to social media hypes and thousands of anecdotes shared, we are now aware of multiple benefits of placenta encapsulation. In simple words, the benefits of placenta encapsulation during and after pregnancy need more clinical trials or studies to be established.
Nevertheless, placenta encapsulation pills are known to offer benefits like fighting postpartum depression, restoring iron levels, and improving oxytocin levels.
Fighting Postpartum Depression
The raw and dried placenta comes with progesterone. So, placenta encapsulation may improve the mental health of a mother who is suffering from postpartum depression caused by an imbalance in the reproductive hormones.
However, there is no scientific research to establish this claim.
Restoring Iron Level
The placenta has a high amount of iron. So, ingestion of placenta encapsulation can improve iron levels in the blood. Thus, it can be effective in fighting postpartum blood loss and anemia.
However, studies reveal that placenta encapsulation is not enough for the treatment of postpartum anemia. It does not have any positive or negative effect in improving the iron level in the blood.
Improvement In Oxytocin Level
During pregnancy, oxytocin is produced by both the mother and the child. Placenta can have oxytocin and thus improve the mood of a new mom. This hormone is also effective for the contraction of the uterus and restoring its actual size and shape.
Placenta Encapsulation Can Supply Essential Vitamins To The Body
The placenta comes with vitamins B12 and B6. Placenta encapsulation can help your body to receive these micronutrients.
Disadvantages Or Risk Factors Of Placenta Encapsulation
It does not matter whether you are eating your placenta or taking it through a placenta encapsulation kit. This treatment procedure is used to alleviate postpartum depression and other complications that come with adverse health effects. Let’s have a look.
High Risks Of Blood Clotting
The placenta has a high level of estrogen, which increases clotting in the blood. So, placenta encapsulation can boost blood clotting, causing major cardiac problems.
The placenta has an accumulation of heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic. Placenta encapsulation can raise the amount of these metals in your body.
Excessive lead in our bodies can damage the kidneys and nervous systems. Mercury can damage kidneys, nervous systems, lungs, and the immune system. At the same time, arsenic can cause cancer.
So, these metal contaminations can be fatal.
Drop In Breast Milk Supply And Flow
Placenta encapsulation is hyped as a method to increase the breast milk flow of a mother in postpartum. However, contrary to popular belief, the placenta comes with progesterone, a pregnancy hormone. This hormone interferes with the production of prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone that promotes the production of breast milk.
Infections are the most prominent side effects or risk factors associated with placenta encapsulation. The placenta is filled with blood, and it’s a raw organ without any sterilization.
So, if a woman takes placenta encapsulation, she is exposing herself to the risks of viral or bacterial infections. And the same pathogens are being passed to her baby through the breast milk.
The placenta, filled with pathogens, can further be contaminated if not refrigerated or preserved properly.
You can’t deny that there is a major social media hype regarding placenta encapsulation these days. However, this is not a process that has popped up all of a sudden. This has been there in Chinese traditional medicines for quite some time. The potential benefits of placenta encapsulation are fighting postpartum depression, improvement in mood, boost in lactation, and faster recovery with uterus contraction. Still, the majority of medical practitioners term these benefits as placebo effects.
At the same time, you cannot undermine the risk factors like increased blood clotting or severe contamination and infection caused by this method. Most importantly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had warned against this method in the vision of a specific case when a child got infected by “group B streptococcus” as the mother took placenta encapsulation.
So, weigh the risks and benefits properly before you opt for this treatment method. In addition, consult your doctor and be sure of the infrastructure of the medical facility offering this service.
If you ask for honest opinions, placentophagy comes with high-risk factors and can be harmful to the health of the mother and baby. Further, there is no major clinical evidence to establish the evidence of placentophagy in alleviating postpartum complications. I have come across a study report published in the National Library of Medicine, and the study says that around a third of all mothers in the USA eat placenta raw or in a dried form. In around 70% of cases, the reason behind the same is combatting postpartum depression.
Still, it is always better to opt for other clinically proven alternatives.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Placenta encapsulation works and helps women fight postpartum depression, fatigue, and hormonal imbalance faced by women after child delivery by providing the mother with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients.
However, this process is not completely risk-free and can invite health hazards like bacteria and viral infections and increased blood clotting thanks to the presence of estrogen in the placenta.
Furthermore, more studies and clinical trials are required to establish placenta encapsulation as a full-proof treatment method.
Placenta encapsulation has multiple benefits, but it is not completely risk-free. It is yet to receive approval from the FDA. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against placentophagy or placenta encapsulation. CDC has issued this warning in response to how an infant got infected with group B streptococcus after the mother took placenta pills.
In addition, despite multiple placenta encapsulation benefits, this process is not applicable in certain cases. Mothers who had to undergo emergency child delivery by emergency medical technicians are unlikely to follow the process as the placenta is disposed of in such cases.
Sometimes, the placenta can get damaged during pregnancy, increasing risk factors related to placenta encapsulation. Most importantly, if a mother has infections during pregnancy or the postpartum stage, the placenta stem cells can be only used to diagnose the mother and child in illnesses. These cannot be used for regenerative medicines or other clinical purposes.
It is difficult to give any proper answer about whether the placenta is a medical waste or not. Parents can store placenta stem cells in a cord bank. These stem cells are preserved for the formation of regenerative medicines.
The doctors also preserve the placenta to find and analyze many important information about the current pregnancy. This information is helpful in the treatment or cure of future pregnancies and in eliminating the risk factors.
However, one can find these regenerative medicines in cord tissues. The extraction of cord tissues is possible from the cord. This is a safer option, eliminating the risks of contamination with the mothers’ cells.
In addition, when cord tissues are used for the formation of regenerative medicines or when you compare the clinical benefits of these tissues, they are more effective than many FDA-approved treatments with stem cells.