In honour of my new niece or nephew coming into the world at the end of this month, I thought I might touch on what could be viewed as controversial, Placenta Encapsulation, and the benefits of consuming your own placenta after giving birth.
In Australia there is not a regulating body therefore there is no formal recognition of the Australian Certification process, there are however courses where you can be certified and accredited as a Placenta Specialist.
Before I get into the history, if you have any questions on Placenta options after giving birth, please discuss with your medical practitioner. It is recommended if you wish to preserve the placenta, the hospital and staff are fully aware and it is included in your birth plan. It is also not recommended for those who have a blood condition (HIV or Hepatitis for example) – again it is important to have the conversation with your doctor. Due to the lack of regulation, some medical specialists do not support the use of the placenta after birth so be well informed before making the necessary decisions.
Let’s go back in history and have a look at where this idea of ingesting the placenta came from. Called human placentophagy, it is defined as “the ingestion of a human placenta postpartum (or postnatal), at any time, by any person, either in raw or altered (e.g. cooked, dried, steeped in liquid) form. There are 2 categories placentophagy falls under: maternal placentophagy whereby the mother ingests her own placenta postpartum and then there is non-maternal placentophagy where a placenta is ingested by any person, other than the mother. I would like to focus on maternal placentophagy today because maternal verses non-materal placentophagy has less risk as it is directly from the mother, not from another mother or animal that the person may not know the background of.
The word placenta comes from the Latin word “cake” in reference to its round flat appearance. Does this ancient word signify the essential needs to stay alive? Sure it does because it is this organ that provides thermos-regulation to the fetus (shelter), oxygen and nutrients to growing babies (air and food) – remembering the words meaning ‘cake’ which of course, we eat in today’s life so is this an underlying fact that the placenta can be, should be, eaten?
Other than our life necessities of shelter, food and air, the placenta fights against internal infection and produces hormones to support the pregnancy. Placentas are a defining characteristic of placental mammals, but are also found in some non-mammals with varying levels of development. In the animal world, humans, whales and dolphins are the only mammals that do not eat the placenta of their young as a natural nutrition source. Even animals know the benefits of this highly nutrient dense organ.
Sitting down with Placenta Specialist, Noriko Aimes, we discussed why one would want to eat the placenta – in organ form or capsule.
Although there doesn’t seem to be any medical study to prove the following benefits for humans (however there are for animals and some on-going studies involving the human reaction and recovery), clients of Noriko, many forums and groups plus Noriko’s own personal experience giving birth to a 3 month premature son, indicate these benefits run true.
*the placenta is essentially an organ meat so it provides a dense concentration of nutrients including iron, Vitamin B6, protein and zinc to name a few.
*after birth, the mothers body loses hormones and nutrients so to consume the placenta, it is a way to replenish the body quicker.
*the placenta contains high levels of prostaglandin which stimulates involution (shrinkage of the uterus), in effect – cleaning out the uterus of the blood it formerly contained during pregnancy and reducing it back into its natural size. The post-birth bleeding stops quicker due to the uterus shrinking at a faster rate.
*it contains small amounts of oxytocin which eases after-birth stress and causes the smooth muscles around the mammary cells to contract and eject milk.
*eating the placenta after child-birth can improve your mood resulting in a lesser diagnosis of post-natal depression. This is particularly said for those who have had a caesarean as some new mothers have the thought of not being ‘connected’ with their child due to it being a surgical delivery and not a vaginal one.
So what’s the process? Noriko goes through 2 methods – the cooked and the raw methods. In traditional Chinese medicine, the cooked or steamed method is done which is what she specialises in.
After discussion with the hospital and the doctor plus being part of the birth plan, once the child is born, the placenta needs to be put into a fridge within 5 hours. The placenta can be refrigerated for no more than 4 days or kept in the freezer up to 6 months.
The placenta is thoroughly washed to clean out the blood and then steamed for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness. The heat will kill all remaining germs.
Dehydrate for around 12 hours before grinding and encapsulating.
The main difference between the Chinese Method and the Raw Method is that the placenta is not steamed. It is washed, dehydrated, ground and encapsulated.
On average a standard sized placenta will produce up to 100 capsules while a smaller sized placenta about 80 and if thicker up to 200.
Noriko uses capsules that are made out of vegetables as opposed to the collagen alternative which is not heat resistant nor do you know 100% which animal it came from and how it was raised/treated.
Dosage is 2 to 3 capsules, 3 time a day (depending on the size of the capsules and what your placenta specialist and/or doctor suggest.
It is important to note that once the placenta is compromised, it cannot be used. For example, it wasn’t put in the fridge within the 5 hours; it was sent off to pathology for tests as it is generally put in solution/s. It must be kept raw and cold without any outside contamination.
If encapsulation isn’t your thing but you do wish to allow the body to benefit there are a handful of ways to you consume the placenta.
Smoothie - YES! When available I put raw lambs brains in my smoothies so this lit up my face when I heard this option.
Spag Bol or Rissoles – mix pieces in with the meat. Recipe below!
Pate – livers are the traditional organ meat to use so as the placenta has the rich nutrients like the liver, it use can be the same.
Skin Care – just ask Cleopatra about her anti-aging secrets.
Tincture – using a small piece of the placenta, fermented in good quality alcohol (vodka/gin/brandy) for 7 weeks this drink is the perfect follow-on once the capsules have run out. Lastly indefinitely if stored correctly, this remedy is beneficial for emotional, mental and psychological instability. It can also assist in treating fatigue, milk production and even menopause
Take a Print – before washing (ie you need the blood for the print), lie it down and cover with paper. A stencil-like print will be the result.
If you would like any further information on Placenta Encapsulation, you can find a Placenta Specialist near you and have your list of questions ready but please don’t forget to discuss with your medical practitioner.
Due to Noriko being a new mum herself she is taking time out with her work so she can enjoy her son grow however she worked with Virginia Maddock for her birthing and placenta needs.
Keep an open mind – it is best to be well informed then you can make the decision that is right for you.
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