We are very aware that some people just don't "get" placenta encapsulation and postpartum services. We get some, "ewws," and many QUIZZICAL faces, but most of all, we get questions. Usually, once people hear how amazingly beneficial the placenta is, people begin to change their minds. We often hear, "I wish I would have known about this with my children," or, "I'm so intrigued to try this!" Here are the most common questions we get:
1. How can the placenta help a postpartum mother?
There are so many benefits that the placenta has to offer a postpartum mother. First and foremost, the placenta can help to prevent and decrease the risk of postpartum depression, commonly referred to as the "baby blues". The placenta also helps to replenish iron from blood loss during the birthing process which helps to prevent postpartum anemia which can be common in the postpartm period. The placenta lends a consistent flow of the hormone, Oxytocin, which promotes bonding to the newborn. Another benefit is that the placenta provides the Human Placental Lactogen hormone which helps to establish an early and healthy milk supply. This ensures that your newborn is getting plenty of amazing nutrients from your body during breastfeeding! Research has shown that 86 % of mothers who consume their placenta reported an increased milk production within 4 days of placenta consumption! The placenta helps to stabilize the ever changing hormones in the postpartum period, which helps to stabilize the mother's mood. Another benefit is that the placenta replenishes B vitamins along with all the energy that was used during labor and the birthing process. The placenta protects the mother from infection or bleeding due to any retained placenta or membranes. The placenta offers natural pain relief, leading to a decreased use of pain medication in the post partum period. Along the same lines, research has shown that ingesting placenta increases the effectiveness of opioids that are used in the postpartum period. Finally, the placenta provides amazing nutritional supplements.
2. What is the placenta composed of?
The placenta is composed of beneficial hormones, chemicals, iron, and proteins. These healing substances include the following:
Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone: Contributes to mammary gland development in preparation for lactation; stabilizes postpartum mood; regulates post-birth uterine cramping; decreases depression; normalizes and stimulates libido.
Prolactin: Promotes lactation; increases milk supply; enhances the mothering instinct.
Oxytocin: Decreases pain and increases bonding in mother and infant; counteracts the production of stress hormones such as Cortisol; greatly reduces postpartum bleeding; enhances the breastfeeding let-down reflex.
Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF): Stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids, including endorphins; reduces pain; increases well-being.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone: Regulates the thyroid gland; boosts energy and supports recovery from stressful events.
Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH): Low levels of CRH are implicated in postpartum depression. Regulation of CRH helps prevent depression.
Cortisone: Reduces inflammation and swelling; promotes healing.
Interferon: Triggers the protective defenses of the immune system to fight infection.
Prostaglandins: Regulates contractions in the uterus after birth; helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. Anti-inflammatory effects.
Iron: Replenishes maternal iron stores to combat anemia, a common postpartum condition. Increases energy; decreases fatigue and depression.
Hemoglobin: Oxygen-carrying molecule which provides a boost in energy.
Urokinase Inhibiting Factor and Factor XIII: Stops bleeding and enhances wound healing.
Immunoglobulin G (IgG): Antibody molecules which support the immune system.
Human Placental Lactogen (hPL): This hormone has lactogenic and growth-promoting properties; promotes mammary gland growth in preparation for lactation in the mother. It also regulates maternal glucose, protein, and fat levels.
3. What are some of the risks associated with or contraindications of eating the placenta?
We would be negligent if we did not accept that there are definitely risks associated with consuming the placenta. This is why we strongly encourage our clients to ensure that their Specialists have been trained in three very important areas. Most importantly, we are certified to encapsulate the placenta. This means that we have been trained on how to identify possibly harmful abnormalities within the placenta, and when to recognize when the placenta cannot be encapsulated for safe consumption. Second, we have obtained our bloodborne pathogens certification, including education regarding proper sanitizing techniques which is of the utmost importance in our practice. Finally, we have our food handlers certification through the State of Michigan which ensures our client's that we have been educated on how to prevent cross contamination and avoid any spoilage.
That being said, if the placenta is prepared in a kitchen that is dirty and unsanitary, you run the risk of viral and bacterial contamination. This is why it is important to make sure that your Encapsulator has a ServSafe Food Handlers Certification (which Treehouse Postpartum Services does!).
Another risk of placenta encapsulation is the spreading of blood-borne pathogens and rancid blood due to improper sanitizing techniques could put you at risk for cross contamination. This is why it it important that your Encapsulator has a Blood-borne Pathogens and Infection Control Certification (which Treehouse Postpartum Services has!).
If the placenta is sent to Pathology, there are always risks associated. There is a chance that the placenta has been contaminated with chemicals or that the equipment used for examination has not been properly sterilized. There is also a possibility that the placenta has accidentally been switched, and may not even be your own.
If the placenta is not dehydrated at a high enough temperature, or if it was ground and encapsulated prematurely you run the risk of fungus, mold, or bacterial contamination. This is why having a Specialist who has been properly trained as a Placenta Excapsulator is very important (which Treehouse Postpartum Services does!).
4. Are there any situations in which a placenta should not be encapsulated?
Yes! There are several situations in which we cannot encapsulate a placenta. These situations include mothers who are heavy smokers or drug users during their pregnancy, mothers with certain specific genetic disorders, mothers who are taking specific prescription medications, mothers who have choriocarcinoma, and mothers with a uterine infection (chorioamnionitis). We are also unable to encapsulate placentas that have been chemically contaminated in Pathology (we currently do not recommend encapsulating placentas sent to Pathology), placentas that have sat at room temperature for longer than 4 hours, or have been in the refrigerator for longer than 5 days. We like to take each placenta on a case by case basis however, so please email us with any questions, as we would love to do everything in our power to make our postpartum services work for you!
5. Which method is right for me, the Raw Preparation or the Steamed Preparation?
This is what we like to call "the great debate"! Every mother wants to get the greatest benefit from this amazing organ. Below, we have broken down each method and hope this helps answer some questions as to which method is right for you!
Raw food activists believe that steaming or heating the placenta destroys some of the nutrients. Using the Raw Foods Method creates a very nutrient and hormone dense capsule. It also creates a high yield, meaning that there are generally a high number of capsules that are created from the encapsulation process. The Raw Preparation is only recommended within 48 hours of birthing the placenta. Some reasons that would discourage us from recommending this process for our clients would be if you have a history of anxiety, insomnia, bipolar tendencies, or had severe preeclampsia.
This is a preparation method based on one that was developed by Raven Lang, a midwife and TCM (The Chinese Method) practitioner, in accordance with TCM principles and the specific needs of the postpartum period. It is one of the oldest-known and most commonly-used recipes for postpartum placenta preparation. The hallmark of this method is the steaming step. In TCM theory, the process of labor and birth leaves a lot of open, empty space, which is considered very yin, or cold. Therefore, one major way we can promote healing during the postpartum period is to add yang energy via heat. Raw placenta is considered extremely cold, and therefore inappropriate for extended use during the first few months after birth. We therefore incorporate steam and the final result is warming, tonifying, and nourishing for the postpartum. Heating the placenta with the steaming method dims down the hormonal potency while offering other benefits to the mother. Steaming converts some nutrients to be absorbed which would normally be discarded using the Raw Preparation Method if the mother primarily consumes cooked foods.
There are other options we have in which we could prepare half of your placenta using the Raw Preparation Method and half of your placenta using the Steamed Preparation Method. We could then give you the capsules for each method and allow you to decide which capsules to take depending upon your mood, milk production, etc. Another option would be for us to prepate half of your placenta using the Raw Preparation Method and half of your placenta using the Steamed Preparation Method and then combining them into one capsule for you to consume.
6. What is a tincture? And how is it made?
A tincture is a great way for a mother to preserve the amazing benefits of her placenta long after she has run out of capsules. When stored properly, a tincture has an indefinite shelf life. This means that a tincture can help the mother into menopause to stabilize symptoms and balance out hormones. A tincture can even be given to the female child once menstruation begins to help stabilize hormones and regulate her menstrual cycle.
A tincture is made with 100% alcohol (flavored or non flavored) and a piece of your raw placenta, placed in a glass bottle with a dropper. The bottles are then returned to our clients and the fermentation process takes approximately 6 weeks before the tincture is ready for the mother to benefit from it. We ask our mothers to place the tincture bottle in a cool, dark place that she will see every day, such as an underwear or a sock drawer. The tincture needs to be swirled around once a day and we do not want the mother to forget! This is critical for the fermentation process.
After 6 weeks the fermentation (or "steeping") is complete and the tincture needs to be strained. The benefits the mother can expect from a tincture can include increased energy, decreased stress, hormone stabilization, help with return of her menstrual cycle and as mentioned before, help with menopausal symptoms.
7. How soon after my birth does my placenta need to be given to a Specialist for Postpartum Services, like Encapsulation?
Ideally, we would like to receive the placenta from you within 48 hours of your birth. We like to be able to come to the birth place (either home or hospital) and pick up the placenta from you (or from a friend or family member) as soon as you let us know that the placenta has been birthed. The sooner we are able to prepare the placenta, the more beneficial the placenta will be. If this is impossible, we ask that you double bag your placenta and place it in the freezer within 2 hours of your birth. Please contact us to discuss your options at this point, but keep in mind that the longer your placenta is stored in the freezer, the less beneficial it will be for the mother.
8. How long does the Encapsulation process take?
We contract to have the capsules (and/or tincture) back to you within 72 hours of receiving your placenta. We always deliver our products back to our mothers either at the hospital (if they happen to still be there) or at their place of residence!
9. How do you accept payment?
We accept payment via PayPal right through our website! Just click on the "services tab" and you will be securely walked through the process.