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Should I eat my placenta? 6 things you need to know

What is the placenta?

The placenta is a very cool and very important organ for your baby’s development. It grows in a woman’s uterus during pregnancy and connects to the baby via an umbilical cord. Through the umbilical cord, nutrients and oxygen are passed from the mother to the growing baby.

The placenta is so important to the growing baby that once the baby is born, whether by vaginal delivery or C-section, the placenta is also then birthed. The common practice now, with all things being well, is to delay cutting the umbilical cord so baby can get all the final nutrients from the placenta. This usually happens during the golden hour after birth.

What happens to the placenta after giving birth?

In the UK, the hospital or birth centre where you give birth typically takes care of the placenta after you give birth. Usually your midwife will firstly examine the placenta to ensure it has been fully delivered and to check for any problems or abnormalities. If no further action is required, the placenta is then treated as clinical waste or biohazard material and disposed of by the hospital in line with their health and safety regulations.

Can I choose to keep my placenta?

It’s becoming increasingly common for women to choose to keep their placenta after birth. Some families choose to keep the placenta for cultural reasons so they can bury it at home. Others choose to keep their placenta in order to consume it. Some people have even chosen to turn their placenta into art or make it into jewellery.

It shouldn’t be a problem if you do want to keep your placenta after birth, however it’s important to let your midwife and / or medical team know in advance because certain health and safety regulations may apply.

What are the benefits of eating the placenta?

We’ll be honest, there isn’t a huge amount of medical research out there about the pros of eating your placenta. However, that being said, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and stories from women who said it made a big difference to their postpartum experience.

Many women who chose to consume their placenta after birth have reported quicker and speedier postpartum recoveries. They’ve also said they had more energy after birth, fewer symptoms of postpartum depression, an increased milk supply and that postpartum bleeding stopped more quickly. There is also some research that suggests consuming your placenta does help improve iron levels after birth.

What are the risks?

The main risk commonly associated with eating the placenta is the risk of infection to either your or your baby. This is because if the organ is not properly cleaned or prepared after you give birth, it could become contaminated with germs or bacteria. If you’re seriously considering consuming your placenta after birth, it’s really important to let your healthcare providers know in advance and discuss all the pros and cons.

6 things to know about placenta encapsulation

Placenta encapsulation is the fancy way to describe the process of the placenta being turned into edible pills for you to consume. Here are six important things to know about the process to make sure you get it right…

1 Collection

After giving birth, the placenta is collected and stored in a clean, sterile container. It is usually collected by the person or company who will create your placenta pills.

After it is collected, the placenta is refrigerated or placed in a cooler until it can be processed, typically within 48 hours. This is why it’s important to tell your healthcare team in advance so they know to ensure that the placenta is properly cleaned and promptly stored in the hospital.

2 Cleaning

The placenta is then thoroughly rinsed to remove blood and other residues. Any extra, residual tissue, such as the umbilical cord or membranes, may be trimmed away.

3 Steaming (optional)

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method, the placenta is gently steamed with herbs such as ginger, lemon, and pepper. This step is skipped in the raw method, where the placenta is processed without steaming.

4 Dehydration

The placenta is sliced into thin strips and placed in a food dehydrator. The dehydration process typically takes about 12-24 hours at a low temperature to ensure it is fully dried while preserving nutrients.

5 Grinding

Once dehydrated, the placenta strips are ground into a fine powder using a food processor or grinder. This powder is then ready to be encapsulated.

6 Encapsulation

The placenta powder is placed into empty capsules, typically using a capsule-filling machine or by hand. The capsules are then stored in a clean, airtight container, ready for the mother to consume as a supplement.

How much does placenta encapsulation cost?

In the UK, the cost of placenta encapsulation typically ranges from £150 to £300. The price can vary though depending on factors such as the service provider, location, and additional services offered, such as placenta prints or cord keepsakes. The most important thing when choosing a provider though is to do your research and make sure it’s reputable and that it’s certified in terms of safety and quality.

How many pills will I get?

The number of pills produced through placenta encapsulation will vary person to person. This is because it’s based on a number of factors such as the size of the placenta, the encapsulation method, and the size of the capsules used.

However, on average, placenta encapsulation typically yields anywhere from 100 to 200 pills. It’s important to discuss with the encapsulation specialist regarding the specific details of the encapsulation process and the number of pills you can expect to receive.

How often should I take a placenta pill?

The frequency of taking placenta pills can vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. A common recommendation is to take 1 to 2 pills per day during the early postpartum period, ideally with meals. However, your placenta encapsulation specialist will be able to provide more specific advice.

How long do placenta pills last?

Placenta pills typically have a shelf life of about 1 to 2 years if stored properly. For optimal preservation, keep the capsules in an airtight container in a cool, dry place and follow any specific storage instructions provided by the encapsulation specialist.

At the end of the day, consuming your placenta is a personal choice depending on whether you think it’s worth the money (and the hype). Like a lot of women-related medical matters, there isn’t a huge amount of research and it’s fair to say this is the case when it comes to the benefits of placenta pills. Some women swear by them, some say they didn’t make the slightest difference to their recovery.

If you are thinking about giving it a go, choose a reputable placenta centre (sorry, had to include the rhyme somewhere) and make sure you discuss your wishes with your midwife and medical team in advance so they can handle the placenta appropriately for encapsulation.

Sources

Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. the resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. you should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options

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