Placenta encapsulation is on the rise in the world of mama trends. Unfortunately, however, this process is not without serious controversy. What are the benefits of placenta encapsulation? And more importantly, do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Table of Contents 📝
- What is the placenta?
- What is placenta encapsulation?
- Placenta encapsulation benefits
- Placenta encapsulation risks
Before we dive into all that, first things first:
What is the placenta?
This pretty spectacular organ develops during your pregnancy along with your baby. It’s responsible for what goes both in and out of your little peanut as they develop in your womb.
Incoming: nutrition and oxygen
And where do you find this important organ? It’s attached to the wall of your uterus during pregnancy. It uses the umbilical cord as the pathway for oxygenated blood to flow into your baby, and deoxygenated blood to flow out.
The placenta will leave your body at the end of your pregnancy, following hot on the heels of your newly born baby.
What is placenta encapsulation?
In short, placenta encapsulation involves popping your placenta into what is known as placenta capsules for you to consume. Before being made into placenta pills, the placenta is steamed, dried, and ground into a digestible form. (There are other ways to consume your placenta post-birth, but this seems to be the one that has gained the most traction lately.)
How much does placenta encapsulation cost?
If you pay someone to encapsulate your placenta, you can expect to pay between $200 and $500. The DIY route is risky and time-consuming—plus, you have to get the equipment to dry your placenta and pop it into consumable capsule form.
Does insurance cover placenta encapsulation?
In some cases (not all!), yes, your insurance will reimburse you for placenta encapsulation, especially if you have an HSA account.
Placenta encapsulation benefits
An ancient practice that has been a part of Chinese medicine for centuries, placenta encapsulation is promoted as having a variety of health benefits. But what are the benefits of eating your placenta? And is this practice as beneficial as it claims to be?
The reason this practice is gaining popularity is that the placenta is packed with micronutrients. It managed to sustain your baby for 9 months, after all! With its cocktail of B vitamins and iron, placenta encapsulation is touted as a means to:
- Improve breast milk supply
- Stave off postpartum depression
- Give new mamas an energy boost
Now, this may all make placenta encapsulation sound like a fabulous idea, but placenta encapsulation is not without its risks.
Placenta encapsulation risks
There are certainly reasons to think twice before you decide on your placenta pairing for this evening’s plate.
Not only is the science still out on the benefits, but placenta encapsulation may also pose some risks to you and your newborn:
- Possibility of contamination: The process of placenta encapsulation does not get rid of dangerous pathogens. Ultimately your placenta is a raw organ that doesn’t have much to protect it from bacteria and viruses. The result? Infections that can harm you—and your baby, if you’re breastfeeding.
- Running low on milk: While placenta encapsulation is often praised for improving milk supply, there isn’t much on the scientific front to back this up. In fact, it can sometimes have the opposite effect. Your placenta contains progesterone, and while this hormone is really useful during pregnancy, it can actually end up blocking the hormone responsible for milk supply (prolactin).
- Dizziness, headaches, and stomach upsets: This may be the last thing you need when you’ve got a newborn on your hands.
So when it comes to placenta encapsulation, it’s always a good idea to check in with your healthcare practitioner. And if you’re really intrigued, why not ask the mamas of Peanut if they’ve tried it out?
And, whatever route you go, know that the postpartum period can be tough no matter what you do to ease the strain. Try to assemble a support network. Meet yourself where you’re at. And try, where you can, to indulge in some of your favorite things.