I’m with you mama, my first thought when I heard about placenta donation and placenta encapsulation, I thought to myself: You’ve got to be kidding me! Who in the world would eat their own placenta?
But if you’re a regular here on my page, you would know that I am a curious mama who loves to educate myself and all other moms about motherhood and all it entails. So if you also want to know what “eating’ your placenta actually involves, I’ve got you covered!
Today you'll learn about your placenta, donation, and placenta encapsulation.
What is a placenta?
Picture a delicate, flat disc-shaped structure, about the size of a dinner plate, with a spongy texture and a rich, reddish-brown color. It's soft to the touch and pliable, with a slightly rubbery feel. When you hold a placenta, it's as if you're holding the essence of life itself, a tangible symbol of the miraculous process of pregnancy and childbirth.
The placenta is a truly remarkable organ that forms during pregnancy and serves as a vital link between you and your baby. This complex structure begins to develop soon after conception and grows along the walls of the uterus, connecting to the growing fetus via the umbilical cord. The placenta is a richly vascularized structure that functions as a filter, allowing essential nutrients and oxygen to pass from the mother's bloodstream to the developing baby while keeping out potentially harmful substances. It also acts as a barrier, protecting the fetus from infections and other external threats. So, we know that this mighty organ is full of goodness then? Interesting.
Placenta Donation and Placenta Encapsulation
We're onto the good part! By default, after you give birth, the hospital disposes of your placenta which FYI is standard protocol. If you want to make good use of your placenta, you have two options: placenta donation and placenta encapsulation.
So what the heck is placenta encapsulation? Suppose you’re imagining roasting your placenta in the oven or serving it alongside your grilled potatoes. In that case, you can now breathe a sigh of relief as placenta consumption actually involves ingesting it in the form of a capsule (a perfect moment to be thankful for technology!)
The process of placenta encapsulation involves processing, dehydrating, and grinding a new mother's placenta into a fine powder, which is then placed into capsules.
On the other hand, if you're not a fan of encapsulating your placenta, you can go for placenta donation AKA birth tissue donation which will be used for research or medical use.
How does placenta donation work?
Once you're admitted to the hospital, the staff will ask you if want to donate your placenta.
If you agree, you would have to:
- Give consent
- Fill up a medical history form
- Have your blood tested for any diseases that could be passed to a patient (through your birth tissue)
If you're having any second thoughts, I assure you that this will only be done after your baby has been delivered safely.
What are the benefits of placenta donation?
A lot! Your placenta can help other patients with:
- Healing traumatic wounds
- Skin grafting for severe burn victims
- Diabetic ulcers
- Eye injuries and diseases
- Spinal problems
- Dental procedures
- Sports injuries
Is placenta encapsulation safe: The Pros and Cons
Well, let’s start with the fact that the safety of placenta encapsulation is a topic of ongoing debate among healthcare professionals. However, looking at other mamas’ experiences is always helpful to hear anyway. So here are some of the purported reasons why some are a fan of consuming the placenta:
- Increased energy levels: Some mamas report feeling more energized after consuming their placentas, which helped them cope with the demands of new motherhood.
- Improved mood: Some feel happier and more balanced, helping them with postpartum depression or mood swings.
- Increased milk production: More milk supply means a happy breastfeeding mama!
- Faster postpartum recovery: This may be due to the high levels of nutrients and hormones contained in the placenta.
On the other hand, it is also a controversial practice with both potential benefits and risks. Here are some of the cons to consider:
- Lack of scientific evidence: While some mamas report benefits from placenta consumption, there is currently little scientific evidence to support these claims.
- Risk of infection: If not handled and prepared properly, the placenta can become contaminated with harmful bacteria that can cause infection.
- Risk of hormone exposure: Consuming the placenta may expose you to high levels of hormones, which could have unintended effects on your body and threaten your immune system.
- Legal and ethical concerns: In some countries or states, consuming placenta or transporting it across state or international borders may be illegal.
A piece of advice from one mama to another: if you’re considering placenta encapsulation, it is still important to speak with a qualified professional and carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of placenta encapsulation before making a decision.
How much does it cost to encapsulate your placenta?
The cost of placenta encapsulation can vary widely on different factors such as location, the specific services offered, and the encapsulation specialist's level of experience and training. On average, the cost of placenta encapsulation ranges from $200 to $400, though prices can be higher or lower depending on the above mentioned factors.
It is important to note that some insurance companies may cover the cost of placenta encapsulation as part of postpartum care, so it is worth checking with your insurance provider to see if this is an option for you. Additionally, some encapsulation specialists may offer payment plans or other options to make the service more affordable for their clients.
Where can you get your placenta encapsulated?
Doulas, midwives, and placenta encapsulation specialists offer placenta encapsulation services. Some hospitals and birth centers may also offer placenta encapsulation as part of their postpartum care services.
To find a healthcare provider in your area, a good place to start is by asking for recommendations from your healthcare provider, friends, or family members who have previously undergone placenta encapsulation. You can also search online for providers in your area or check with local birth centers, doula organizations, or midwifery groups for recommendations.
PRO MAMA TIP: Do your research on your healthcare provider. Find out their training, experience, and safety practices, as well as to ask questions about their specific process. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
How to get your placenta encapsulated?
Convinced yet? Here are the steps you can take to make this happen:
- Research providers in your area who offer placenta encapsulation services. You can do this by asking for recommendations from your healthcare provider, friends, or family members who have previously undergone placenta encapsulation, or by searching online.
- Once you have identified a provider, schedule a consultation to discuss the encapsulation process and ask any questions you may have.
- After giving birth, inform your healthcare provider and the encapsulation specialist that you plan to have your placenta encapsulated. The specialist will provide you with instructions for proper handling and storing the placenta until they can encapsulate it.
It is important to carefully follow the instructions provided by the encapsulation specialist for proper handling and storage of the capsules, as well as for safe consumption.
Does the FDA approve placenta encapsulation?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate placenta encapsulation. The FDA recommends that consumers exercise caution when using dietary supplements, including placenta encapsulation, and to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any placenta pills and supplements.
Can you keep your placenta?
By the hospitals: In most cases, hospitals will give you consent to keep your placenta after childbirth if you request it. However, it is important to note that there may be certain restrictions or guidelines that you will need to follow in order to ensure the safety and health of yourself and your baby.
By the states: In the United States, most states allow women to keep their placenta after childbirth. However, the specific laws and protocols surrounding placenta encapsulation and consumption can vary from state to state. Some states have specific guidelines or requirements for the handling, transportation, and storage of the placenta in order to ensure safety and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
When should you not encapsulate your placenta?
Certain situations may exist where placenta encapsulation is not recommended or safe:
- Maternal infections: If the mother has a bacterial or viral infection, encapsulation could cause contamination of the placenta capsules and put her and the baby's health at risk.
- Preterm labor: If the baby is born prematurely, medical research shows that encapsulation of the placenta could transmit harmful substances because it may not have fully developed.
- Smoking or drug use: If the mother smokes or uses drugs during pregnancy, the placenta can absorb harmful toxins that could pose a risk to the mother and baby.
- Placental abnormalities: If the placenta shows abnormalities such as a large infarction or cysts, it may indicate a risk of infection or other complications, and encapsulation should be avoided.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may have an allergic reaction to placenta capsules, which could lead to severe side effects.
Again, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider before deciding whether or not to encapsulate your placenta. They can provide you with more information about this practice's potential risks and benefits and help you make an informed decision.
Can you do cord blood banking and placenta encapsulation?
Okay, let’s pause for a while and take a look at what cord blood banking is first.
Cord blood banking involves collecting and storing the stem cells from the umbilical cord for potential future medical use. (Side note: Check out my blog post on the benefits of delayed cord clamping)
So, is it possible to do both cord blood banking and placenta encapsulation after childbirth? The answer is: Absolutely YES!
Cord blood banking and placenta encapsulation are two separate procedures that do not interfere with each other. Cord blood collection is a non-invasive procedure that takes place before placenta encapsulation and in a completely different room from birth. It is typically done by a trained healthcare professional or a cord blood bank, while placenta encapsulation can be done by a specialist in the field or a trained placenta encapsulation service provider.
But hey mama, keep in mind that cord blood banking and placenta encapsulation are not medically necessary procedures, and whether or not to do them is a personal choice!
I hope this blog helped you on deciding what to do with your placenta after birth. Got any placenta donation and placenta encapsulation experiences to share? Send us a message! We'd love to hear your story!
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