Frequently Asked Questions
By Megan Michelotti, CD(DONA)
How do I store my placenta until you pick it up? What temperature should it be? Do I need to pack a cooler to bring to the hospital?
You will not need to put any extra effort into storing your placenta after giving birth. Your placenta is fine at room temperature for up to 4 hours, though my goal is to pick it up within 2 hours. Your doctor or midwife will put it in a container, usually a small plastic bucket with a lid. It can stay there, in your birthing room until pick up. If I'm unavailable for pick up, another member of the GR Doulas team will fill in. For our team, it is a shared value that our clients are able to focus on bonding with their babies, not worrying about storing their placenta properly for hours on end!
What is my doctor going to say?!
Even if you are the only person YOU know that's ever encapsulated, you are certainly NOT the only patient your doctor or midwife knows that's done it. The providers I've worked with don't bat an eye when a patient requests their placenta be released to them. It's unnecessary to elaborate on your wishes further than a simple "I'd like to take my placenta with me. Do you have a release waiver I can sign?" They do.
How do I know I'm getting MY placenta back when I send it with you?
When hospitals release placentas they are generally labeled. Which is nice, but rest assured, I allow only one placenta in my home at a time. In the unlikely circumstance I have one already at the time of your birth, I would transport your placenta to your home for refrigeration until it can be processed. I will also send you a video of my workspace immediately before processing, which includes your placenta container with your label on it. I understand this is a real concern for many, so I go above and beyond to put this fear to rest.
Can you encapsulate in my home?
I offer in-home encapsulation for those who've tested positive for HIV or Hepatitis C only. In such a case, encapsulation is done in the client's home at a reduced cost because the client must provide all supplies. My supplies (and all processing-related aromas!) stay in my workspace, which is very small and therefore very well-controlled. Transferring my supplies from my home, into a vehicle, and then into another home and back increases exposure to contaminates, and therefore compromises the safety and cleanliness of my process and workspace. Whoa - just got a little Walter White there. Aaaanyway, I follow OSHA guidelines and have passed the SafeServe food handler's exam required to serve food in Michigan. Please ask for my certificates!
How much do I take? How long will my pills last?
Your placenta pills will come in a bottle with a suggested intake on the label. It is just that: a suggestion. It is important to remember that your placenta pills are not medicine. You can not take too many, or not enough. You can follow the suggested intake, and see how your body responds. Adjust accordingly. For many, the thought of "starting out slow" is appealing. Remember, though, the idea is to wean slowly off the placenta, ingesting at a rate that will taper off, as opposed to build up. If you are worried about pills not lasting long enough, consider purchasing a tincture as well, which offers the same properties as your pills, but with an indefinite shelf life.
The How & Why of Placental Ingestion Benefits, and the Research That Supports It
**NEW IN 2016**
2-part Study Finds Minerals, Elements & Hormones in Encapsulated Placenta
The placenta postpartum is rich in Iron. Replenishing so much blood, after birth is a large task to take on. Having low iron often results in lower hormone levels, fatigue, lack of concentration and depressive symptoms. In studies, women with postpartum depression given iron supplements improved greatly. Why don’t we just give new mothers iron supplements? Why use the placenta? In order to calculate if a mother has an iron deficiency and to what degree, each postpartum woman would need to have a full blood workup at multiple points postpartum. For the average American mother, this is an unrealistic expectation. Manufactured iron included in supplements is different and would be processed differently by the body than the natural iron content found in the blood of a fresh placenta. The placenta contains natural iron that the mother’s body has created. Read more about this aspect of placental consumption here.
In a study where women were given placenta to consume, 86% reported increased milk production within 4 days. Research is still being done to completely narrow down exactly which hormones react with human milk supply to give it a boost. Consuming placenta directly after birth has shown in many cases to help this. The following are excerpts from medical journals pertaining to this aspect of placenta consumption:
"All patients were given desiccated placenta prepared as previously described (C.A. II, 2492) in doses of 10 grains in a capsule 3 times a day. Only those mothers were chosen for the study whose parturition was normal and only the weights of those infants were recorded whose soul source of nourishment was mothers milk. The growth of 177 infants was studied. The rate of growth is increased by the ingestion of placenta by the mother... the maternal ingestion of dried placenta tissue so stimulates the tissues of the mother... the maternal ingestion of dried placenta tissue so stimulates the tissues of the infants feeding on the milk produced during this time, that unit weight is able to add on greater increments of matter, from day to day, than can unit weight of infants feeding on milk from mothers not ingesting this substance." Hammett, Frederick. S. 1918. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 36. American Society of Biological Chemists, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, original press: Harvard University.
"Powdered Placenta Hominis was used for 57 cases of insufficient lactation. Within 4 days, 48 women had markedly increased milk production, with the remainder following suit over the next three days." Bensky/Gamble. 1997. Materia Medica, Eastland Press, 549.
"It has been shown that the feeding of desiccated placenta to women during the first eleven days after parturition causes an increase in the protein and lactose percent of the milk...
All the mothers were receiving the same diet, and to the second set 0.6mg of desiccated placenta was fed three times a day throughout the period. Certain definite differences in the progress of growth of the two sets of infants are to be observed. It is evident that the recovery from the postnatal decline in weight is hastened by the consumption of milk produced under the influence of maternally ingested placenta." McNeile, Lyle G. 1918. The American journal of obstetrics and diseases of women and children, 77. W.A. Townsend & Adams, original press: University of Michigan.
HORMONE STABILIZATION/POSTNATAL MOOD DISORDER COMBATANT
Many new mothers feel depressed for weeks after giving birth. Researchers at the National Institute of Health have found evidence to suggest a specific cause of postpartum blues. New mothers, the researchers say, have lower than normal levels of a stress-fighting hormone that earlier studies have found helps combat depression. When we are under stress, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus secretes corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH. Its secretion triggers a cascade of hormones that ultimately increases the amount of another hormone called cortisol in the blood. Cortisol raises blood sugar levels and maintains normal blood pressure, which helps us perform well under stress. Normally the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream is directly related to the amount of CRH released from the hypothalamus. That's not the case in pregnant women. During the last trimester of pregnancy, the placenta secretes a lot of CRH. The rise is so dramatic that CRH levels in the maternal bloodstream increase threefold. "We can only speculate," says George Chrousos, the endocrinologist who led the NIH study, "but we think it helps women go through the stress of pregnancy, labor, and delivery." But what happens after birth, when the placenta is gone? Chrousos and his colleagues monitored CRH levels in 17, women from the last trimester to a year after they gave birth. All the women had low levels of CRH as low as seen in some forms of depression in the six weeks following birth. The seven women with the lowest levels felt depressed. Chrousos suspects that CRH levels are temporarily low in new mothers because CRH from the placenta disrupts the feedback system that regulates normal production of the hormone. During pregnancy, when CRH levels are high in the bloodstream, the hypothalamus releases less CRH. After birth, however, when this supplementary source of CRH is gone, it takes a while for the hypothalamus to get the signal that it needs to start making more CRH. "This finding gives reassurance to people that postpartum depression is a transient phenomenon," says Chrousos. "It also suggests that there is a biological cause."
COPYRIGHT 1995 Discover
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
Research has shown ingesting placenta increases the effectiveness of opioids. The mother would need to take much less pain medication to reach the same desired pain management. The women would experience less pharmacological side effects and better maternal responsiveness. This benefit of consuming placenta can be especially helpful for mothers who’ve given birth via Cesarean section, underwent an episiotomy or severe tears, or who experienced prolapsed uterus postpartum. “The most general benefit of placentophagy, according to recent research, is that placenta and amniotic fluid contain a molecule (POEF, Placental OpioidEnhancing Factor) that modifies the activity of endogenous opioids in such a way that produces an enhancement of the natural reduction in pain that occurs shortly after and during delivery.” -Mark B. Kristal, "Enhancement of OpioidMediated Analgesia: A Solution to the Enigma of Placentophagia", Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 15: 425–435
The information on this page was largely prepared by our training organization, International Placenta & Postpartum Association.
DISCLAIMER: Placenta consumption has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. GR Doulas offers preparation services which are not meant to be considered clinical or pharmaceutical. Placenta pills are not guaranteed to
prevent or treat any condition and should not be used as a substitute for medical care. Mothers choosing to engage
placenta preparation services take full responsibility for the use of her own placenta.