Placenta Encapsulation FAQ
01what is placenta encapsulation?
Placenta encapsulation is a method of drying a woman’s placenta and processing it into a powder. This powder is then placed into gelatin capsules which the woman can consume during the postpartum recovery period.
02why do you only offer steam-prep placenta encapsulation?
Safety is, and always will be, my number one priority. For this reason, I only offer the steam-prep method of placenta encapsulation. What this means for you is that not only do I dehydrate your placenta at a food-safe temp of 165 degrees for at least 12-18 hours, I also steam the placenta to an internal food-safe temperature before dehydrating. This method stays in the line with TCM beliefs that the postpartum body needs warmth to properly heal from birth, replenish & move fluids and remove obstructions. This process has incredible benefits without sacrificing safety!
03if my placenta was meant to be consumed wouldn’t it seem more instinctual?
In our culture, we do not routinely consume organ meats. Organs such as the liver, the heart, and the pancreas are considered delicacies in many other cultures because of the high nutritive value of organ meat. Americans are typically repulsed by the thought of consuming any type of organ meat, but it is as you speculated, a product of our cultural upbringing.
Many things about birth in our country are disrespected and misunderstood. Despite numerous studies supporting the benefits of placenta encapsulation, the placenta is treated as medical waste in American birth rooms. In other parts of the world, the placenta is revered and would never be treated with disrespect. It is one of the most nutrient rich organs with many healing and restorative benefits. The placenta can be ingested, buried, or wrapped and left attached to the baby until it naturally sloughs off.
04what is the ideal time frame for encapsulation?
The encapsulation process should take place within the first 48-72 hours. Directly after the birth, the placenta should be placed in an enclosed container and then refrigerated until I arrive to pick it up. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. If it is not possible to start the process within the proper time-frame, the placenta should be promptly frozen.
05how long can a placenta be stored in the freezer before encapsulation?
Placentas that have been properly frozen can be encapsulated up to six months after the birth.
When you have recovered from childbirth, you can also choose to freeze the remaining capsules to take in the future during difficult transitions, such as; the weaning of your child, PMS, stressful life changes and menopause.
06what safety precautions are taken during the encapsulation process?
I always observe safe handling procedures that follow Universal Precautions and the OSHA Blood Borne Pathogen Standards throughout the entire encapsulation process, this includes wearing non-latex gloves and working in a sterile environment. All encapsulation supplies are dedicated and/or disposable and are disinfected, using a hospital-grade disinfectant, both prior to and after each individual encapsulation. All supplies used during the encapsulation process are stainless steel, glass or disposable.
For my safety and the safety of my family, I cannot work with your placenta if you have or have had any of the following transmittable or blood-borne diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis-B, -C, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia or Malaria. If for any reason you had a uterine infection before or during labor, the placenta would be unsuitable for consumption. I require all my clients to sign a contract which includes a provision where they verify that they do not have any communicable blood born illnesses.
07how do you ensure that i will receive my placenta and not someone elses?
I only work with one placenta at a time where it receives all my attention. From beginning to end, your placenta is my only focus.
08i am birthing at a hospital. can i still have my placenta encapsulated?
Absolutely! Any mother can take advantage of the amazing benefits of their placenta. I recommend letting your caregiver know ahead of time, as well as, including it in your birth plan that you plan to keep your placenta & cord. When you check into the hospital, be sure to let your hospital nurse know and if you are using a birth plan mention that as well.
Never let your placenta leave your sight! Hospital staff are very busy and could accidentally discard your placenta or send it to pathology where it would be ruined for encapsulation. Your placenta is not their highest priority. Most hospitals will accommodate your wishes by preparing it for transport, but once packaged they will not accept any responsibility for proper storage of your placenta during your stay.
It is recommended that either your spouse/partner, family member, birthing partner, or doula is in charge of the placenta once it is birthed so that they take the task of ensuring it is properly stored and not lost or damaged. As the Mom, you will be busy birthing a baby and do not need this additional item to be concerned about! I will supply you with a bio-hazard zip-lock bag, but I recommend that the moms plan to bring a small cooler with them to the hospital.
Hospital staff will usually place the placenta inside some sort of container that is sealed, labeled, and then placed inside of a bio-hazard bag that is then also sealed. If your hospital staff does not package the placenta for you in this manner, you can always place the placenta into the seal-able zip-lock bio-hazard bag that has been given to you and place in the container you brought.
Within the first hour or so after the birth (up to four hours at most), fill the cooler with ice (available at the hospital) and place the entire packaged placenta inside. As long as the container/bag, that the placenta is in, is set on top of ice, it will keep until I arrive to pick it up. You do NOT want the hospital to store your placenta for you! This is the number one way a placenta accidentally gets lost/ruined/sent to pathology.
For Home Births: Your placenta can be placed in any seal-able container and/or double bagged in gallon Ziploc bags. Within the first hour or so after the birth (up to four hours at most) be sure that the placenta is either put on ice or put into your refrigerator.
09will the hospital release my placenta to me?
Most hospitals are usually willing to accommodate a Mom’s wishes to bring her placenta home. However, some hospitals are much more placenta friendly then others and some staff will not be the friendliest or most supportive in letting you take your placenta home with you. The way to ensure the best placenta release outcome is to be well prepared, have a plan to store your released placenta and inform everyone involved in your birth of your wishes to keep your placenta. Stay calm and friendly when discussing your wishes.
Some hospitals will require a release of liability waiver to be signed, but do not be surprised if a particular hospital does not require any special paperwork for the release.
You should tell your physician/midwife ahead of time that you plan to take your placenta home and write it into your birth plan. If you are not comfortable doing so, you certainly do not need to share with your hospital staff what you intend to do with the placenta (although I always strongly advise telling your primary OB doctor/midwife). All you need to say is that you would like to have your placenta after your baby is born and that it is not to be treated with any chemicals.
Women have been bringing home placentas for religious, cultural, or personal reasons for many, many years.
10what if the doctor wants to take my placenta to pathology?
In VERY rare cases your physician may feel that your placenta needs to go to pathology If this does happen, ask if they can do a visual exam in the delivery room instead or see if a small piece sent to pathology would suffice instead of the entire placenta. Please be aware that very few placentas actually need to go to pathology in their entirety.
If your physician feels the whole placenta needs to be examined in pathology, unfortunately it will no longer be suitable for encapsulation due to cross contamination and use of preservatives & chemicals.
11can i encapsulate my placenta if i had a c-section, epidural or pitocin?
Your particular birth choices/outcomes do not affect whether or not your placenta can or cannot be encapsulated. Make sure you specify clearly in your birth plan that you will be keeping your placenta and that it needs to be refrigerated as soon as possible after the birth.
Especially after a c-section, you will need to be vigilant about making sure your placenta is treated properly. Dads and doulas….this is your job.
12can i encapsulate my placenta if my baby was premature?
Premature birth does not automatically determine your placenta is unfit for encapsulation. Moms of preemies need all the help they can get to bring in their milk, heal quickly and balance postpartum moods and most physicians/midwives will try to accommodate your wishes. Your physician/midwife will try to either do a blood test, send a culture to pathology or will perform a bed-side visual examination in order to not have to send the entire placenta to pathology. However, in some cases the placenta legitimately does need to be sent to pathology in order to determine possible preterm cause. Ultimately, it is the decision of your care-provider as to whether or not your placenta will be released.
13can i encapsulate my placenta if i was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia?
Placenta encapsulation is not contraindicated for mothers with pre-eclampsia. Many women who have had pre-eclampsia have successfully used placenta pills. Pre-eclampsia still remains a mystery and although the placenta does seem to play a part, it is not usually unfit for consumption. After the birth, your placenta will be examined for irregularities and problems and in most cases the placenta is completely fine. If your care-provider diagnoses a problem or infection in the placenta, it will be sent to pathology and you will be unable to take it home.
14can i encapsulate my placenta if my baby passed meconium before birth?
Meconium is dangerous for babies to inhale, but is otherwise harmless. Depending on how severe the meconium is, your physician may be unwilling to release your placenta for encapsulation. If this is the case, simply have a family member contact me.
15is it safe to have my placenta encapsulated if i tested positive for strep-b?
Due to a recent case-study performed by the CDC, Oak Moon Rising will no longer accept clients who test positive for Strep-B. If at any point in your pregnancy you become aware that you have tested positive, simply contact me and we can discuss further options.
16can i encapsulate my placenta if i tested positive for a blood-borne disease?
I do not offer placenta encapsulation services to those who have tested positive for any transmittable or blood-borne diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis-B, -C, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia or Malaria.
I require all my clients to sign a contract which includes a provision where they verify that they do not have any communicable blood-borne illnesses.
17can i encapsulate my placenta if i was told it was “abnormal”?
Your placenta is as unique to you as your fingerprints. No two placentas are the same, as each one is specifically made by you and for you & your baby. Sometimes a placenta can be very unique; an unusual shape or size, extra lobes, etc. but “unique” does not mean “unhealthy”.
18when is a placenta considered unsuitable for consumption/encapsulation?
A placenta would be considered unsafe to consume if the mother developed an infection during labor, if the placenta was taken to pathology, if it was not refrigerated properly after birth or if the mother has HIV, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia or is Hep-B or -C positive.
If the placenta has been taken to pathology, simply have a family member contact me.
19what if i am a vegetarian/vegan?
Your placenta is made up of the foods you put into your body…the healthier your lifestyle, the healthier your placenta. Remember, nothing is harmed in the process of placenta encapsulation.
Even though I use only vegetarian capsules that do not contain gelatin, I ask that if you are a Vegetarian or Vegan that you still let me know.
20what do you do with the umbilical cord?
The umbilical cord has traditionally been considered sacred and to dispose of it is thought to bring bad luck. Your babies umbilical cord is carefully dried in a heart shape and given to you as a keepsake. Some families keep it somewhere special, use it in a blessing ceremony or bury it beneath a family tree. Whatever you decide to do with your babies cord, rest assured that it is given all the respect that it truly deserves.
21are you certified?
I received my formal training in 2013 through Full Circle Placenta, now IPPA, and have successfully acquired certification in 2016. I have passed the required state certifications – PA Food Handlers & the Blood-borne Pathogens and Infection Control.