She looked at me with an incredulous expression and asked, “Are you actually into all of that placenta encapsulation stuff now?”
I couldn’t blame her for asking. After all, I had never been one to take interest in an all-natural, holistic, hippy style of living. In fact, it wasn’t my style at all to do anything “naturally”. If there was anything manufactured, man-made, or inorganic, I usually chose it over its natural counterpart mostly because it was probably cheaper and more accessible. I never felt the need to explore other, more natural options, and this particular friend knew that about me. Which explains why she looked at me in utter disbelief when my answer to her question about encapsulating the placenta for consumption was a simple, “Yes.”
I still remember the first time I heard about women encapsulating their placenta and consuming the capsules after giving birth. I was about 18 years old, and the idea that someone would voluntarily consume their own organ sounded disgusting and cannibalistic to me. That’s right, cannibalistic. I pictured them cooking up this bloody, nasty organ on a frying pan and serving it up on a plate as if it were a thick ribeye steak. The thought of it actually made me physically nauseous. So, as with anything else that might cause me to have such a revolting reaction, I put it out of my mind and never intended to think about it again.
I was about 4 months pregnant with my daughter when I stumbled across something called placenta encapsulation on the mommy boards. Though I still didn’t know what it was for sure, I could safely assume that it had to do with encapsulating the placenta for consumption. I still was pretty grossed out about consuming my placenta in any form, but my interest was piqued. I had seen placenta encapsulation mentioned so many times by other moms that I wanted to know what all the hype was about.
I’ll be honest, part of me was curious about what it was, but another even bigger part of me just wanted to learn about it so that I could tell my husband over dinner what all the crazy hippy moms are doing now. I figured it would give us something to laugh and joke about for a couple of days until we moved on to the next thing to laugh and joke about.
But then, I fell down the rabbit hole of information.
Through a quick internet search, I learned all about the practice of placenta encapsulation, and I was even able to get a general idea of how it was done. I then started to read about the experiences of women who had consumed their placenta in capsule form and was surprised to find that so many women had such wonderful experiences with it.
I read about one woman who had terrible postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of her first child, and then virtually no postpartum mood issues after the birth of her second child because of what she claimed to be her “magic placenta pills”. I read about another woman who had so much trouble breastfeeding her first two children because of low milk supply, and then had an overabundance of milk with her third child. She attributed the difference in supply to her taking her placenta capsules after the birth of her third child, something she hadn’t done with her first two children.
Stories like those were plentiful and easy to find, but I wanted to know about the risks of consuming your placenta and if the results claimed by the women in those stories were science-based. What I found was that the risks of consuming your placenta in capsule form vary depending on the safety protocols taken during the encapsulation process and the method of encapsulation that is used, which you can learn about here.
Ultimately, I learned that while the practice of placenta encapsulation is not regulated and there aren’t a whole lot of scientific studies on it, when proper safety measures are taken, the risks are minimal and the anecdotal benefits are overwhelming.
I was impressed by what I had learned, and eventually even started to consider having my own placenta encapsulated. Unfortunately, the circumstances of the birth of my daughter didn’t allow me to take advantage of placenta encapsulation, but I was so drawn to the idea of anything that could help women have a more successful postpartum period that I decided I wanted to learn how to encapsulate placentas. I found the certifying organization that I felt emphasized safety and health over all else, and I began my certification process right away.
I have now had the opportunity to encapsulate placentas for countless women who always have nothing but wonderful things to say about their experience taking their own placenta capsules.