I know my first reaction to hearing "placenta encapsulation" was, "That sounds weird!" The more I learn about it, the more intrigued I am, and the more convinced I am that we will have this done when we are blessed with another baby. I invited Wendy Diaz, a fellow Bradley Method® instructor who is also a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, to share about "The Golden Pills" today because I want to let our students know about this new trend in the natural childbirth movement.
1. How did you find out about placenta encapsulation?
When my first child was born I fell in love, like most women do. But as the days went by I was getting more and more tired; more and more distant, emotionally. I thought this was what all women went through. My daughter did not like sleeping at night or in the day. Nothing really seemed unusual about it to me. I was never weepy, sad, or even what I would define as depressed. When my daughter would cry I would respond, but did not have any feelings about her cries. I thought I was deficient in some way. Sometimes I would think "If I threw her and she would get hurt, that would not be good," and then move on, as if it were nothing. Again, having no emotions attached. It was a challenging time for me as a mom. I often questioned myself and wondered what I was doing wrong. When my daughter turned one, I suddenly felt different. I felt like the clouds had finally cleared and I could think and feel again. I thought this was within the realm of normal.
Years went by, I birthed two more children without this same postpartum experience. One day I was reading an article about postpartum depression. While reading it I discovered that someone else had the same exact experience that I did. Total detachment from emotions, and they called it “postpartum depression”. I was amazed, relieved, and excited all at once. I had never realized that postpartum depression could be more than sad, weepy feelings. I did not know that my inability to stay awake for more than seven hours a day was a significant sign of postpartum depression. Now that I knew what the problem was, I could search for an answer.
I did not want to do pharmaceuticals – never really been a drug person. I had heard of herbs and homeopathic remedies that may help, but was still unsure about the effects of them on my baby while breastfeeding. Then I came across articles on consumption of the placenta after birth. I found out that some people cooked their placentas and made it into spaghetti sauce and ate it, some made it into lasagna, and others made it into a smoothie. All of these options repulsed me beyond belief. Back to the drawing board I thought.
One day I came across the idea of encapsulation. After researching it I really felt that this could be an option for me. Still not excited about placenta consumption - but you put it into a pill, and I can do it! I looked into encapsulation some more and found a nationwide organization that trained and certified placenta encapsulationists. They had research to back up the benefits; they had a protocol for their specialist to follow as far as preparation and conduct. They also were in compliance with all applicable government agencies in regards to the handling of the placenta, as well as processing procedures. They also require all specialists to have a current food workers card to ensure that they have knowledge of how to properly care for the placenta while it is being processed for consumption.
I thought this was the answer. After going through such a rough time with my first pregnancy I did not want any women to have to feel the way I did. I was determined to bring this service to the Valley and enable women to spend that first year with there babies confident, happy, and full of energy while consuming their capsules.
2. How long has the practice been around?
I use the Traditional Chinese Method of encapsulation in my practice. This method of encapsulation has been around for thousands of years. The Chinese Method is based upon the principle that when a woman is pregnant she is in a warm state. When the baby is born along with the placenta she then goes into a cold state. In order to return her back to a warm state the placenta must be steamed and then consumed.
3. What are the expected benefits?
Placenta consumption, via encapsulation, has been shown to increase a mother’s energy levels postpartum, help to regulate hormones (especially thyroid), increase milk supply, reduce pain, expedite healing and so much more. I will make additional reading available for anyone who is interested.
4. Are there any side effects?
Side effects: not really. If you take too many pills in a day you could get a headache. If you are coming down with a cold or infection you should discontinue taking pills for the duration of the infection. The pills will drive the infection deeper and make it worse. Many women find that they have an abundance of milk although this is rarely seen as a bad thing.
5. Is there anything else I should tell our students about your services?
Let me explain what a client can expect from me. I would ask that you leave me a small deposit so I can block off the required amount of time in my calendar for your placenta. This ensures that I will have the time to come to your home and start the encapsulation process in a timely manner, usually within 24-48 hours after birth.
I would then give you the instructions for handling your placenta after your birth. We will also discuss who is going to be in charge of your placenta until I arrive as well as how to keep it at a safe temperature. I will also ask that you provide me with directions to your home along with any specials codes or parking instructions that may be necessary.
On the day I come to process your placenta I will ask that you provide the following: a counter space for me to work on, an empty sink in the kitchen as well as a stove for me to use. All other materials I bring with me, including the cleaners necessary to sanitize the work area before I start, and after I am finished.
The first day takes me about 2 to 2.5 hours. I clean the placenta, steam it with herbs, and begin the dehydration process. You can only tell I was there because I do leave the dehydrator (it uses a minimal amount of electricity). I set up a time with you for me to return the following day.
Day 2 usually takes me about 1.5 hours. I remove your placenta pieces from the dehydrator and begin the grinding process; this takes a few minutes. I then take this powder and begin to put it into capsules. Once I am done with this I completely sanitize the work area and my equipment. I even make sure to take the trash out for you. I then leave you with a bottle of pills (about 150-200 for an average size placenta), berry flavored capsules or vegetarian capsules, and instructions for use as well as alternative uses for your pills.
Some of the benefits of having the process take place in your home are:
a) You know it is your placenta that you are taking
b) You can watch the process and can be sure that safe food handling procedures are being used
c) Your kitchen is cleaned up well, after the process is completed on both days ;)
Before I leave on day two, I will make sure we go over how to use your pills, as well as any contraindications that there may be. I am also happy to share my knowledge of breastfeeding when asked. Please take the time to check out my website and find out more about placentophagia.
Wendy’s website: www.nobabyblues.com
I want to thank Wendy for taking the time to do her research and for making this service available to women. Mothers with depression tend to suffer silently in most cases, and with a natural solution like this, there is no need for most women to suffer anymore. Although my experience with it was mild, and only a brief period after giving birth, I was always afraid to talk about it: I didn’t want to be told I was crazy and have someone take away our precious baby; and I definitely did not want to take any medications that would affect my ability to breastfeed or the quality of my breastmilk.
I also want to let you know that although I have seen a marked increase in the amount of people providing placenta encapsulation services, to my knowledge, Wendy is among only two people in the Phoenix area who is officially certified to do so. As with all things we teach in our Bradley Method® classes – do your research! Ask questions, and then make the smart choice according to your research.
Wendy has provided me with some research abstracts and some informative news articles about the benefits ofplacentophagia:placenta consumption. If you are interested in further reading, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you the supplemental information.
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.