Just like any other choice for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, it is important to be informed on both the potential benefits and risks of that choice. There are a few factors like using tobacco that could potentially make your placenta have more toxic heavy metals present. Read more about the potential risks of placenta encapsulation in this blog.
Placenta encapsulation is a form of placentophagy which is the ingestion of raw or processed placenta (Marraccini). For this particular type of placentophagy, a placenta arts specialist carefully cleans, dehydrates, and processes a client’s placenta into pills that they can take during their postpartum journey. When a trained specialist prepares and encapsulates a placenta, “the commonly used protocols for preparation of placenta for its individual oral ingestion reduce hormone concentrations and bacterial contamination.” (Johnson) This practice is gaining more and more mainstream attention because it may have numerous benefits for women and postpartum persons during their postpartum recovery.
There are several benefits for parents to encapsulate their placenta into placenta pills and to take them throughout their postpartum recovery journey. I wrote a whole blog post about the benefits of placenta encapsulation here.
A quick list of benefits would be:
There are several possible benefits to having your placenta processed and encapsulated into placenta pills. You could decrease your postpartum recovery time, prevent postpartum fatigue, and increase your milk supply. Although, just like with most things in life, there are potential risks of placenta encapsulation. It is important to hire a trained placenta arts specialist who is knowledgable on how to safely process and prepare placenta pills for clients in order to prevent illness from unsafe handling.
Those who are exposed to heavy environmental pollution or those who smoke should consider the risk of ingesting heavy metals like cadmium if they encapsulate their placenta. Similar to heavy metals, if the mother is exposed to a high amount of drugs during her labor and birth journey, she may want to consider if those drugs would be present in her placenta pills.
Lastly, some parents who take placenta pills feel like they increase their milk supply, but their is a potential risk for the estrogen present in the placenta to affect lactation. A parent who is concerned about this could decrease the amount of placenta pills they take or stop taking them to see if it alleviates the supply problem. Yet, I would suggest checking in with a lactation consultant if there are supply concerns.
Adriaanse, H. P., et al. “Smoking in Dutch Pregnant Women and Birth Weight.” Patient Education and Counseling, no. 1, Elsevier BV, June 1996, pp. 25–30. Crossref, doi:10.1016/0738-3991(95)00798-9.
Esteban-Vasallo, María D., et al. “Mercury, Cadmium, and Lead Levels in Human Placenta: A Systematic Review.” Environmental Health Perspectives, no. 10, Environmental Health Perspectives, Oct. 2012, pp. 1369–77. Crossref, doi:10.1289/ehp.1204952.
Falcón, María, et al. “Environmental Exposures to Lead and Cadmium Measured in Human Placenta.” Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, no. 6, Informa UK Limited, Nov. 2002, pp. 598–602. Crossref, doi:10.1080/00039890209602094.
Hatcher, R. A., Trussell, J. T., Nelson, A. L., Cates, W., Jr., Kowal, D., &Policar, M. S. (2011).
. Atlanta, GA:AHC Media
Marraccini, Marisa E., and Kathleen S. Gorman. “Exploring Placentophagy in Humans: Problems and Recommendations.” Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, no. 4, Wiley, July 2015, pp. 371–79. Crossref, doi:10.1111/jmwh.12309.
Jenni Jenkins – Sekine is an Oklahoma Bereavement, Birth, & Postpartum Doula and Child Birth Educator who serves her Central Oklahoma community. She is also a midwifery assistant with Holistic Birthing Services and began her journey as a student midwife with the Midwives College of Utah in 2022.
To learn more about Jenni, please click here.