Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I get possession of my placenta following the birth?
A: Home birth - If you are having a home birth, your midwife or doula will usually double bag your placenta or contain it and ask if you want it refrigerated or frozen. Easy peasy.
Hospital birth - If you're having a hospital birth, be sure to make the staff aware of your wishes to keep your placenta upon admittance. You do not need to specify that you are encapsulating your placenta but at least tell them you intend to bring your placenta home for reasons that require the placenta to remain untainted by chemicals and fixing agents, and therefore you request that it NOT be taken to pathology. Following birth, if your care provider is adamant your placenta requires further testing in the pathology lab, PLEASE request that they take only a small piece and leave the placenta with you. If your placenta is sent to pathology there is no guarantee it will come back to you having been stored at the proper temperature for food consumption or having not come in contact with chemicals directly or through cross contamination. There may be instances where anomalies or abnormalities require the hospital to take the entire placenta, and it will not be made available to you, but that is very rare.
Each hospital has their own policy regarding placenta release and may have their own form for you to sign.
Although it is typically fairly easy to keep your placenta, it isn't exactly routine for the hospital staff, so in addition to the above mentioned suggestions feel free to utilize the printout available to download on the Book Services Now page of the website as a reminder of your wishes for anyone who enters your room.
Be sure to bring a cooler in case your hospital room does not provide you a refrigerator, and/or for transporting your placenta back home in case I am not able to pick it up from the hospital.
Q: How do I store my placenta while it is in my care?
A: 0-4 hours postpartum - From the time it's born the placenta must be handled as though it were food, because that is what it will soon become. It is safe for the placenta to be out, at room temperature, for up to 3-4 hours, but after that time it should be stored in a food-grade container and placed in the back of a refrigerator or in a cooler on ice. If in a cooler, the ice should be checked periodically and replaced with fresh ice as it begins to melt.
4-72 hours postpartum - Storing the placenta in a refrigerator or in a cooler on ice is sufficient for the first 72 hours. At some point during this time frame, the encapsulation process should begin.
72 hours + postpartum - If preparation of the placenta will not begin for more than 72 hours, the placenta should be placed in the back of a freezer until 24 hours before I am scheduled to collect it. At that time it should be placed in the back of a fridge to start to gently thaw.
Q: When is the best time for the umbilical cord to be cut if using my placenta for placenta encapsulation?
A: It comes highly recommend for all mothers to choose optimal cord clamping (aka delayed cord clamping) for the benefit of their newborn. Optimal cord clamping involves leaving the umbilical cord intact for at least 3-10 minutes after birth, and longer if possible, until it is limp and finished pulsating. During this time the umbilical cord is still pumping up to one-third (150ml) of your baby's iron and stem cell rich blood supply to him/her from the placenta! This has been scientifically proven to have lifelong benefits. Optimal cord clamping does not affect placenta encapsulation in any way.
Q: How long does the process of encapsulating the placenta take?
A: The process is divided into two parts, spanning over two consecutive days. The first part should be started within the first 72 hours following birth, and will consist of prepping the placenta for drying and leaving it to dehydrate for a minimum of 12 hours. The next day I will finish the process by grinding and encapsulating the placenta after it is completely dry. That's it; your capsules will be ready for you to use as you need to!
Q: How many capsules will my placenta make?
A: I've observed placentas produce between 75-175 capsules depending on the type of method that is used for preparation and the size of the placenta. In my experience, it's typically, somewhere close to 100.
Q: How long should I take my placenta capsules for?
A: When prepared using the TCM Inspired Method, you can take your placenta capsules for as long as you feel you need them, as long as they are stored properly. I recommend using them without hesitiation, as much as they're needed during the postpartum period. If you have any capsules left over they can be taken to alleviate symptoms of PMS, menopause, and/or other stressful times throughout your life.
If you decide you'd like to extend the use of your placenta after it has already been encapsulated, do not fear! An alternative tincture can be made using the granules from just a few placenta capsules. I am happy to do this for you or provide you detailed instructions on how to do it yourself.
Q: How long will my placenta capsules be "good" for?
A: When prepared using the TCM Inspired Method, they will be good for as long as they are stored correctly. I recommend storing them in the freezer, or in a cool, dry, dark place while taking them during your postpartum period. If there are more left over, you should store them in the back of the freezer until you need them again (for PMS, menopause, or whenever you feel necessary).
Q: I have some capsules left over and I’m pregnant again, can I take my left-over capsules while pregnant?
A: No. The placenta is designed to help the body recover after childbirth and is composed of hormones which may contract the uterus. To prevent any risk of miscarriage or pre-term labor, I highly advise mothers not to take their placenta capsules while pregnant.
Q: Where did you receive your training from?
A: I am a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist trained by Placenta Benefits.info. PBi is the oldest, largest and most recognized placenta encapsulation organization in the world. They hold a high standard of practice and ethics, and are an organization founded by some of the foremost experts on placenta medicine and postpartum wellness. I am trained in Food Safety and am a Washington State Food Worker Card holder. I have also completed an approved educational course in "Bloodborne Pathogens & Infection Prevention Training for Doulas, Midwives, & Placenta Encapsulators" in accordance with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1090.1030. I follow these standards with each client and placenta I work with.
Q: Can I encapsulate my own placenta?
A: Placenta is most beneficial as soon after the birth as possible, when you should be resting and not working, and it does take skill and knowledge to safely and appropriately prepare. I would recommend using a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist if you can. If cost is a factor, just give me a call or send an e-mail. Chances are I will be willing to work with you on pricing and/or and individual payment plan. I do genuinely have a desire to provide moms and babies with the best there is to give--what nature intended us to have. I would much rather a potential client ask me to work something out with them, opposed to going without something that has been proven to be SO beneficial during the postpartum period. Sometimes the cost of purchasing all the supplies you would need to do this appropriately can cost just as much as hiring someone.
Q: What's in your kit? How are your supplies stored and sterilized?
A: Some of my supplies include: a large knife, bowls, a glass cutting board, a stainless steel pot with steaming basket, disposable dehydrator sheets, a food dehydrator, small blender, and a capsule filler machine. All non-disposable supplies are washed in hot soapy water immediately following use, and then submerged in a bleach solution. The sink, counter tops, and anything else I may have come in contact with are sprayed with a bleach solution as well. Everything is left to soak for at least 10 minutes before drying. The bleach solution is then drained from the sink, and tools are rinsed thoroughly with lots of hot water before drying and storing. Supplies are stored in a clean, sterilized tote.
Q: I want to have a lotus birth. Can I still have my placenta encapsulated?
A: Placenta encapsulation can not be done after a traditional lotus birth. A lotus birth is when the placenta is left attached to the baby until it detaches on its own, generally after several days. In lotus birth, it is common to salt or somehow help the placenta dry out more quickly. While lotus birth is a beautiful ceremony honoring the connection between placenta and baby, it leaves the placenta unsuitable for consumption.
If lotus birth is important to you, you can perform a modified version and still have your placenta encapsulated. The placenta could stay connected to the baby for up to three or four hours. This would give the baby a gentle transition to the world, and the placenta would still be fit for consumption after this amount of time. Do not exceed four hours before separating the placenta and refrigerating it.
Q: Can my placenta still be encapsulated if there was meconium present at the time of birth?
A: Yes. Meconium in the waters is only a problem for babies because they can inhale it which can cause breathing difficulties. Meconium on the placenta is generally harmless and can be rinsed off during the normal preparation procedure or removed with the removal of the membranes. If the staining is severe, the membranes will be removed and the placenta will be disinfected by steaming in an apple cider vinegar vapor before being processed.
Q: Can I still have my placenta encapsulated after having pitocin, an epidural, or c-section?
A: Yes you can. These interventions have no noticeable effect on your placenta capsules. Epidural anesthesia and pitocin break down very quickly after entering the placenta. Make sure you specify clearly in your birth plan that you will be keeping the placenta, and that it needs to be refrigerated as soon as possible after the birth. Especially after a c-section, you will need to be vigilant about making sure your placenta is treated properly. This I can't stress enough, so please refer to the info. above regarding release of placentas from the hospital.
Q: I have tested GBS+. Does this affect my ability to have my placenta encapsulated?
A: No, it does not change much, and you can still have your placenta encapsulated. You were likely tested for GBS several weeks before your EDD. GBS (Group B Streptococcus) are bacteria that come and go naturally in the body. That being said, by the time you give birth there is a chance you may no longer be GBS+. Additionally, you will probably have been given advice by your Dr or Midwife on ways to resolve your + result, and restest - at a later date, or you will have been given antibiotics during labor.
Regardless, I still take extra precaution so please let me know; when I have a GBS+ client I increase the time dehydrating the placenta to 18 hours instead of the typical 12 hours.
Q: Does placenta encapsulation help alleviate postpartum hormonal fluctuations?
A: Absolutely! Below is a short essay I wrote during my training to become a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, regarding postpartum hormonal fluctuations and how placenta encapsulation can help to alleviate them. Hopefully you find this information helpful!
You might think that postpartum hormonal fluctuations are just the result of an exhausted new mother trying to adjust to the demands of her new role, but there is actually a biological explanation behind it. See, the placenta produces many hormones during pregnancy, and when it detaches and leaves the mother's body taking all of those hormones with it, those levels drop dramatically, and she is left without the abundance of hormones her body has been used to. It takes a while for the brain to realize that these levels are low, and that more of these beneficial hormones need to be produced. During this time, the mother's mental and emotional state is affected, and she can suffer from depression as a result of the lack of hormones being produced by her body.
According to the article "Baby blues - postpartum depression attributed to low levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone after placenta is gone", researchers from the National Institutes of Health conducted a study that focused on corticotropin-releasing hormone (aka, CRH). CRH is a stress-fighting hormone that ultimately aids in the production of a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels and maintains normal blood pressure, which helps one to perform well under stress. During the last trimester of pregnancy, the amount of CRH produced in a pregnant woman's body was three times the normal amount produced. This is thought to happen to aid the mother through the stresses of her pregnancy, labor, and delivery. After the birth, when the placenta was gone, all 17 women in the study had low levels of CRH, some of the lowest (7) resulting in depression, during the first six weeks postpartum. The explanation for these findings is due to the fact that the placenta produced such an abundance of CRH during the third trimester. Since the CRH levels were high in the bloodstream, the mothers' brains released less CRH. However, after birth, when this "supplementary source" of CRH was gone, it took a while for the brain to recognize that it needed to start making more CRH. It was during that window of time the mothers' CRH levels measured low, and therefore some suffered from depression.
The article "Hormonal Changes in the Postpartum and Implications for Postpartum Depression" confirms the research discussed above, in regards to the affects of significant drops in CRH after the release of the placenta. The article also discusses the changes in progesterone and estrogen levels, and the effect that these changes can have on the mother's ability to cope with changes and life during the postpartum period.
During the postpartum period, the mother is lacking so many beneficial hormones her body has had during her pregnancy. This drastic decline in hormone levels is what we now know to be a major contributing factor in postpartum depression. Although these hormones leave the body at the time the placenta is released, the good news is that, even then, they can still be beneficial to the mother through encapsulation. The article "Placental Encapsulation and Postpartum Health", by Jodi Selander states that the hormones currently known to exist in placental tissue are: corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol (maintains blood pressure, stress relieving hormones), progesterone (similar effect as some anti-anxiety medications, relieves depressive symptoms), estrogens (estrone, estradiol and estriol), endorphins (the "feel good" neurotransmitters, thyroid-Releasing hormone (TRH) ("The thyroid has such an impact because these hormones interact with brain messengers that influence mood and emotions (Ford 1996). Postpartum women have slightly more elevated rates of thyroid dysfunction than the general female population (Hendrick 1998)"), thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulines and ultimately thyroxine (T4), oxytocin, prolactin and human placental lactagon (hPL), leuteinizing hormone (LH, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), placental opioid-enhancing Factor (POEF), iron (iron deficiency, has been strongly linked to fatigue as well as PPD), and vitamin B6. Since the placenta contains so many beneficial hormones and vitamins the new mother is lacking during her first weeks postpartum, she is able to "re-balance" her system by ingesting her placenta through encapsulation, giving her body just what it's lacking (interesting how that works...it's almost as if it was actually meant to be consumed...;)). By supplementing her system with her own placenta during the first weeks postpartum, she is keeping those hormone and vitamin levels elevated (important since, as discussed above, the brain is not yet receiving the signal that many hormone levels have dramatically decreased and now need to be produced). Therefore she is able to essentially eliminate any drastic hormonal fluctuations and/or postpartum depression due to the absence of the placenta, providing her with a smooth, peaceful transition from pregnancy to motherhood.
Q: Does placenta encapsulation aid in breast milk production?
A: Yes, it has shown to in past studies! Again, below is part of an assignment I did during my training to become a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist answering this question.
Based on "Placenta as a Lactagogon", I absolutely feel that Placenta, prepared using TCM, is a justifiable solution for insufficient lactation issues. In my personal opinion, all mammals in their natural state consume their placentas for a reason. By 'reason', I mean a real reason -- not just to clean the birth site, protect themselves from predators, etc., but because there are truly many beneficial reasons, including increased lactation, to consume this amazing organ. In the experiment discussed in this article, 210 women were administered placenta post birth for the purpose of assisting in lactation. 71 had very good results, 110 had good results, and 29 had negative (negative, not meaning "bad", but meaning "not noticeable") results. All of these women, for one reason or another, anticipated having difficulty breastfeeding, had flat, small breasts, had previous failed attempts at breastfeeding, or had not breastfed at all. There were no negative side effects or symptoms shown by the women who were given the dried placenta. Actually, the women who did not show much benefit from the placenta still had noticeable swelling of the breasts, even though there was no increase in their breast milk production. The impressive positive results of this study confirm the belief that placenta ingestion supports lactation and helps prepare a woman's body to successfully breastfeed her baby. Taking these circumstances into consideration, the amount of positive results are impressive in my opinion. Without being given placenta, a lot of these women are likely to have not had the ability to successfully breastfeed their babies, but as a result of this experiment they were able to successfully breastfeed as well as maintain their increased milk supply. The babies were able to benefit from the mothers' breast milk, not to mention the nutrients passed through the breast milk from the placenta as well.