Placenta Encapsulation: Fact vs. Fiction

Placenta encapsulation in Wichita is catching up to the rest of the country in popularity, especially with recent publicity in the news from celebrities such as January Jones and Kourtney Kardashian. However, the more exposure this practice gets, the more myths, questions, and urban legends get tossed around the Internet. I'm here to set the record straight, answer your burning questions and separate fact from fiction in the placenta encapsulation debate!

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Myth #1:

Eating your placenta is cannibalism!

Reality: 

The Oxford Dictionary defines a cannibal

as someone who eats the flesh of another person, so ingesting your own placenta doesn't exactly qualify! It's more like recycling to enjoy the benefits of a product your own body created. It's not a part of your baby, either. It is made up of human DNA but it is not another human being. Besides, nobody is harmed or killed in the act of collecting and ingesting your own placenta.

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Myth #2:

It's just the placebo effect!

Reality:

There haven't been many scientific studies of the effects of placenta encapsulation, but the anecdotal evidence from women who have done it is overwhelming. We do know with certainty that the organ produces hormones such as progesterone, estrogens, and lactogens, all of which are important to womens' endocrine systems and fluctuate greatly in the woman's body after giving birth. It also contains iron, the deficiency of which has been linked to postpartum mood disorders. These ingredients can and do have an effect on the human body. But even if it were just a placebo – why not do whatever makes you feel up to the challenge of parenting a tiny human?

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Myth #3:

Animals only eat their placentas to avoid attracting predators!

Reality:

With very few exclusions, all mammals practice placentophagy (ingesting their placentas). However, no proof has been found that they only do so to avoid attracting predators to the afterbirth. In fact, some animal studies have found definite benefits to the mothers, including increased pregnancy-induced analgesia, increased mother-baby interactions, and increased caretaking behavior.

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Myth #4:

It's not healthy – the placenta is a filter!

Reality:

Yes, the placenta filters out harmful substances to protect the baby and allow helpful nutrients through. However, with the exception of some heavy metals, such as those found in the bodies of heavy smokers, the organ actually filters the waste back to the mother for her body to excrete. It's not like an air filter that hangs onto all the junk and gets clogged up!

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Myth #5:

The encapsulation process will remove all the good stuff!

Reality:

Actually, the low heat involved in the dehydrating process does not destroy all of the hormones and nutrients from the end result. One study from Thailand found that not just the hormones, but also protein, calcium, iron, magnesium and a number of other nutrients known to be in the placenta were still present after being heat-dried.

And now, to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about placenta encapsulation in Wichita...

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Question #1:

What are the benefits?

Mothers who ingest placenta are reporting decreased postpartum bleeding, reduced baby blues, increased breastmilk supply and higher energy levels, among other effects. The ingredients, which include pregnancy-related hormones, iron, and calcium, are said to help balance and nourish women after giving birth.

Question #2:

Is it safe?

Since your body uniquely created the organ, you don't have to worry about it harming you. When I encapsulate your placenta, I observe strict safety and sanitation protocols in accordance with bloodborne pathogen and food handling training in order to provide you with the highest quality service possible.

Question #3:

Will I be able to take my placenta home from the hospital?

Yes! Wichita hospitals allow you to take it home with you. If there are infections or other serious issues present at the time of birth, they may need to test it, but in most cases you will simply take it with you according to the super-simple instructions I will provide you with.

Question #4:

Can I still encapsulate if I have health issues or take medications?

Usually, though there may be a couple exceptions, such as Lyme disease, chorioamnionitis, heavy smoking during pregnancy, etc. You can ask your care provider if you have any concerns about this.

Question #5:

What will it taste like?

When it's dried, ground and packaged in nice little capsules, you probably won't really taste anything. You could make sure to take them with juice right after eating, and/or request flavored capsules if this could be an unpleasant mental factor for you.

Would you ever have your placenta encapsulated? What myths about the process have you heard?

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References:

Placental Hormones

http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/reprod/placenta/endocrine.html

Iron Supplementation for Unexplained Fatigue in Non-anaemic women: double blind randomized placebo controlled trial

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7399/1124

Placentophagia in Humans and Nonhuman Mammals: Causes and Consequences

http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~kristal/placentophagia%20review.pdf

Nutrients and Hormones in Heat-dried Human Placenta

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10932499

Source: New feed