The Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation

Woman holding in her hands encapsulated placenta pills.

The Benefits of Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta encapsulation. If you’re expecting, I’m sure you’ve heard a few people talking about it. Some people love it and completely rave about it, while others think it’s flat out weird and gross. But some people don’t know what it is. What is placenta encapsulation and what are the pros and cons of it?

First, if you’re not sure what the placenta is, it is an organ that develops on the wall of the uterus during pregnancy and provides nutrients, blood, and oxygen to the baby while also removing waste from the mother. Think of it as a filter, but it’s also your baby’s life-line.

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After pushing and giving birth to your baby, you may think you are finished, but you’re not. You then have to deliver the afterbirth, which is your placenta. Once the placenta is out, you can choose to discard it or keep it. But why would anyone want to keep it? Well, some people keep if for religious beliefs, some plant it in their yard with a tree, and other people eat it by either cooking it, putting it into a smoothie or, the most common form, encapsulating it. Many people believe that the placenta offers lots of different benefits that help recovery after birth. I know, it sounds odd, but the custom of consuming the placenta is centuries old. It is a controversial tradition but it has been gaining popularity in the United States over the past few decades.

So, what is placenta encapsulation?

Placenta encapsulation is a process in which, immediately following the birth of your baby, your placenta is taken, cleaned, dehydrated and ground into a coarse powder, which is then placed into small capsules that look exactly like any other vitamin or supplement we might take. It is then given to the mother for her to take over the course of the next few weeks or months after giving birth.

Why would a mother want to consume her placenta?

Great question! The reason why is, it is believed to have numerous health benefits. The placenta contains a massive amount of crucial hormones and iron that leave a woman’s body once the placenta is born. Humans are one of the few mammals that do not eat their placentas – a practice known as placentophagia and it is believed that consuming the placenta can help new mothers maintain their hormone and iron levels in the few weeks after the birth, which can speed healing and help curb fatigue and anxiety in new mothers. Pretty cool!

This practice has been gaining a lot of traction especially since some celebrities have been encapsulating their placentas. Alicia Silverstone, who we all remember as Cher in the 90’s comedy “Clueless,” said that she ate her placenta after giving birth. Actress January Jones from “Mad Men” did the same. Kourtney Kardashian from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” shared on her Instagram her placenta pills (aka “happy pills”) and how they have been “life-changing.”

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Even her sister, Kim Kardashian, shared on her website that she too got her placenta encapsulated after the birth of her second child, Saint West.

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Photo credit: kimkardashianwest.com

What are the benefits of placenta encapsulation?

First, I will say that there is little scientific research available regarding placental encapsulation, it’s consumption, and the benefits. However, check out PlacentaBenefits.info or the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network to see several potential advantages. Some of them are:

  • Increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size, reduces the amount of postpartum bleeding and encourages bonding with the infant
  • Increase in CRH, a stress-reducing hormone
  • A decrease in postpartum depression levels and “baby blues
  • Increases the mother’s energy levels
  • Restoration of iron levels in the blood
  • Increase in milk production

How can placentophagia help curb postpartum mood problems?

Research published in The Journal of Nutrition shows that postpartum iron-deficiency (anemia) can cause postpartum depression and anxiety. Research published in The Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology also shows that fatigue is one of the major causes of postpartum depression, but mothers report that consuming the placenta can boost energy levels. Though few scientific studies have been spent on placentophagia itself, the combined existing research suggests that ingesting the iron-rich placenta may be a good first line of defense against postpartum mood problems. Disclaimer: This is not to suggest that placentophagia is a cure or treatment for established mental health problems, nor should it replace any medically-prescribed treatment. It may only be one tool in helping to curb or limit postpartum depressive symptoms.

How do I get my placenta encapsulated?

Yes, you could choose to dehydrate and encapsulate your placenta yourself, however, most people are hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. A placenta professional will normally have special training and equipment to process the placenta and should be following the OSHA safety guidelines for exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Most often, the placenta professional in your area is probably a doula, midwife, or other birth worker professional who works closely with birthing mothers.

Generally your placenta professional will pick up your placenta from your birth place (whether it be at the hospital, birth center, or at your home), and process it in their workspace on special equipment reserved for placentas only. The placenta pills are then usually dropped off to the mother within 2-3 days or they can be picked up from the placenta professional and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

What are the methods for encapsulation?

There are two main methods for encapsulation, and before hiring a professional, you should ask which methods they offer so you can choose the one you prefer. Each recipe has pros and cons.

  1. RAW Method: This method delivers the highest potency of the pills because it is not cooked before it’s dried, but these pills expire after approximately one year of freezer storage.
  2. Traditional Chinese Medicine Method: This recipe creates a pill that can be stored indefinitely with proper refrigeration, but is less potent than the raw form. Some women want to save their pills for times when they are having difficult menstrual cycles or for when they experience menopause. This is then the method they should choose.

How often should I take my placenta pills?

With encapsulation, the placenta is steamed, dehydrated and ground into 35 to 70 capsules, depending on the size and thickness of the placenta. Most specialists prescribe one capsule in the morning and one in the afternoon for about three weeks or until you run out. This amount gives the body a chance to heal and restore itself.

It is said that taking too many placenta pills a day can make women hyper stimulated, nervous, and unable to sleep – almost as though they have had several energy drinks. Moms need to understand that the pills are meant to restore them, keep them feeling calm and balanced, and not reinvigorate them.

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The Bottom Line…

Yes, there is little research available to either support or oppose the tradition of placental encapsulation. However, it is recommended that the times a placenta should not be encapsulated or ingested is when there was an infection (chorioamnionitis) or if it has been touched by meconium, the baby’s first poop. There are several proposed benefits of the custom though, and limited risks if the placenta if stored correctly and ingested only by the mother.

Check out my tour of a commercial-grade placenta encapsulation kitchen:

I hope this answers a lot of the questions that you had about placenta encapsulation. I would love to hear any stories of women who have done it, whether good or bad. Please share in our comments below!

About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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In our culture, it is common for women to feel nervous and even fearful of childbirth. We've all heard scary horror stories from other people about their babies' births. But something that people aren't as willing to share is how much of a turd toddlerhood can be. 💩 Don't get me wrong. I LOVE and ADORE my crazy toddler. But he is the true definition of a sour patch kid. Sour one moment and then sweet the next. He keeps me on my toes almost every minute of every day. 🤪 When I think about the day I gave birth to him, I think, "Psssshhh, that's child's play compared to what this kid puts me through on the regular." Why aren't more people acknowledging that, yes, childbirth can be tough, but wrangling a toddler isn't much easier? This is just my personal experience, but some mothers might agree. Here is why I believe childbirth is easier than parenting a toddler. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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I often tell my pregnant clients that birth has mo I often tell my pregnant clients that birth has more to do with what happens between your ears (your brain 🧠) than between your legs.⁠ 😳⁠
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When I think back to when I gave birth to my son, When I think back to when I gave birth to my son, I do remember the surges of the contractions, the release of being in the water in the tub, and the pushing. So much pushing. 😓⁠
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After giving birth, I remember how my midwives made my bed with fresh linens and with me in it feeling comfortable as I nestled with my newborn son. I remember how a meal was brought to me in bed and how everything was cleaned up and looked as if nothing happened -- not like I had just given birth to a baby. (I had a home birth, by the way.) And I remember how they were all with me by my side every step of the way.⁠
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For expecting women out there, be intentional with the people that you invite into your birthing room. That includes your doctor, your midwife, and your support people. I know that things look very different right now with hospitals only allowing one support person, but you can still receive good support. Take an online birthing class with your partner and practice how they can help you in labor. Speak up to your nurse and ask for what you need and what you want for your experience. Be your own advocate! And if you feel like you can't speak up, hire a doula and receive virtual support during your pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. Feeling supported, respected, and truly cared for is just as important as having a successful birth with a healthy mom and baby. 💗
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One day a pregnant client of mine started having a One day a pregnant client of mine started having abdominal pain. She called her OBGYN's office and they had her come in to check on the baby to make sure everything was okay. Everything looked fine and well with the baby so they sent her home saying that it was probably something that she ate and that it must be gas or indigestion pain.
Days went by and the pain not only continued but it got WORSE. I encouraged her to continue reaching out to her doctor, which she did. She would call the office and the nurse and doctor would tell her that everything was fine. They told her what meds she could take that could help, and that if she wanted to come in again the next day, she could.
The next day she went in and they looked at the baby and the baby was still perfect. They told her to go home and said to her, "You must have a very low pain tolerance because everything is appearing normal." Little did they know that she had labored for days and delivered her first baby withOUT any pain medication. (She had a different OBGYN with her first baby.) This client of mine is a strong woman and definitely does NOT have a low pain tolerance. I would know because I was her doula for both of her babies.
The pain she experienced only got worse the next day. She was in agony. She did her own research and thought it might be appendicitis. She decided to drive herself to the hospital this time without calling and told the nurse that she was in severe pain and that she thinks she has appendicitis. The nurse said, "there is no way that you could have appendicitis. You wouldn't be able to stand or drive yourself here or even talk if you had appendicitis." My client demanded that she see a doctor to get evaluated. Once a doctor was available to see her and examine her safely (since she was 34 weeks pregnant) they realized that, in fact, she DID have appendicitis & that it was so bad she needed immediate emergency surgery since it could be life-threatening. The surgery then caused her body to go into labor. Just hours after her surgery she pushed & delivered her second child.
I tell this story because I have seen & been told countless stories like this. (Continue reading in the comments.)
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The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠ .⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠
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We recently posted our ultimate list of Grandma names, but you might be looking for the perfect match for a Grandpa name. 💙 Many fathers that turn into Grandpas usually go with what their dads were called as grandparents or something traditional, but we encourage you to take a look at all of the options! There just might be a better fit that suits you. 😊 Here is our ultimate list of over 100 Grandpa names to choose from!⁠
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As soon as a woman becomes pregnant she will hear As soon as a woman becomes pregnant she will hear ALL kinds of unsolicited advice from everyone around her. 🤰 Friends, family members, even strangers will tell her what they went through and what they think she should do with her body and her baby. 😑 And this unsolicited advice continues long into parenthood. ⁠
Something that I think ALL mothers should know and learn is that you do NOT have to own or accept any information or stories someone tells you if it does not serve you. If it's unhelpful and not inline with your choices, hopes, and desires as a mother, then as soon as it was received immediately discard it. Don't harbor any information that does a disservice to you. The mind is a powerful thing. When we are told war stories and how terrible, awful, or painful things were for them (pregnancy, childbirth, or parenthood), that can live and stay with you. You do not have to own someone else's story. It may have been told with good intentions, but if you do not find value in it let it go. Release it and surround yourself with positive talk, uplifting stories, and happy, respectful, and supportive people.⁠ Be bold enough to go against the grain if you must and do what is right for you and your family.⁠
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Transition to Motherhood in Uncertain Times⁠ 🤱⁠
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When a first baby is born, so is a new mother. 💗 The transition to motherhood can be a very difficult one that is impossible to be fully prepared for. As you become a mother you take on a completely new identity. It is a new phase of life that comes with new challenges, emotions, and growth.⁠ 🌱⁠
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As a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit occupational therapist, I find that I take care of the mothers just as much as I take care of the babies. ❤️ Many, if not most mothers, are prepared with the tangibles: a place for the new baby to sleep, clothes for the new baby to wear, bottles, and diapers. But it is impossible to fully prepare for the emotional transition that takes place. New moms are met with not only a little baby who is completely dependent but also a barrage of new and different emotions that you may not fully understand.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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Surprising Body Changes During Pregnancy – Podca Surprising Body Changes During Pregnancy – Podcast Ep 33⁠ 😮⁠
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Pregnancy is such a beautiful time in a woman's life. 💕 But don't get me wrong, not every day of pregnancy is glamorous. 😬 We've all heard of the luxurious hair, the glowing skin, the stretchmarks with the growing belly, but there are also things that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy that aren't really discussed. That's why we are covering all of the surprising body changes a woman can experience during pregnancy on today's podcast episode. So if you're currently expecting and are noticing some odd changes happening to your body, you can feel relieved knowing that you are not alone. 🤰 {Click 🔗 in bio to listen to the episode!}⁠
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When you become a mother you realize how much your When you become a mother you realize how much your mother did (or didn't do) for you. 💗 Sending love to all of the mothers, step-mothers, mother figures out there.
Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠ ⁠ Lately, with e Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠
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Lately, with everything going on, I've been thinking a lot about mothers with newborns. 🤱 As a postpartum doula, I get the pleasure of supporting new families in their homes and helping them navigate the winding roads and highs and lows of early parenthood. But right now I know that families are bringing home their precious babies and are feeling alone more than ever. They have less physical support, which can feel like they have less emotional and informational support as well. This breaks my heart. 💔 I wish this wasn't happening to families or to our world and I wish that I could be there for these moms.⁠
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That's why today, I am hopping on our stories and answering YOUR questions. Since I can't be there PHYSICALLY to help you with your pregnancy and newborns, I want you to know that I am here virtually for you. How can I help?⁠
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{I've left a question box in our stories. Have a question about your postpartum recovery? About your newborn? About breastfeeding? Bottle-feeding? You name it! I've been helping mothers as a birth doula and postpartum doula for 10 years and I am here for you.💕}⁠
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Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠ 📷: unknown Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠
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To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, etc. out there, kudos to you! For going so hard, for not quitting even on the worst days, even on the tired days, even on the days you don't know how you're going to do it, or don't feel like you can. You know it's okay to have some patience, grace, and forgiveness with yourself, right?⁠
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Our children are the future. I had to learn to give myself some grace. Sometimes when I evaluate where I am in life and see that I'm not exactly where I want to be or could've been frustrates me, or gets me down. I'm so hard on myself. But then I realized if the ONLY good thing I've done or successfully done is raise great children, I am in fact doing well!! *Parents, it's so important how we raise our children, and many of you KNOW that is not an easy task.⁠
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There are so many different aspects on this one topic. First, their confidence, self-love, etc. is so important. They need to know who they are, so when they encounter times and people that aren't so kind they are not completely crushed.⁠
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Secondly, think about who you're putting into the world. Do you remember your heartbreak(s), or some of the sh*%$y people you've come across and thought who raised them? Or even when you encountered a child that needed a hug or just some TLC. It's important!⁠
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Thirdly, but not least, for the dreamer or the visionary . . . Yes, we are working so hard for our dreams and goals. And one day we may achieve them, but our building and growing may also be in the building for our children. As we are building a future for them. Show yourself a little love. ❤️"⁠
Words & 📷: @tanishasnell_
"On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a "On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a devoted mother who suffocated under her enormous laundry pile.' #kiddingnotkidding⁠
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I'm trying to be more mindful about laundry and use it as a meditation practice (my main squeeze Thich Nhat Hanh talks about washing your dishes like you're bathing baby Buddha. 😊) Sometimes I can do it and feel grateful and grounded (I find cloth diapers particularly soothing for some reason. 🤷‍♀️) And sometimes I consider just turning our living room into one huge laundry pile and letting everyone forage for their clothes each morning. #wildstyle⁠
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So tell me, wise women of the world--how do you do laundry? Are you a load-a-day type or do you wait until it piles up and tackle it all at once?"⁠
Words & 📷: @spiritysol
It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the weekend. 💁‍♀️🤪 Cheers!
Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (o Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (or yourself 😉) in an easy way? Animal Face Toast! 😍⁠
Pop an emoji for your favorite animal!🐱🦉🦊🐻🐷🐵⁠
📷: @weelicious
Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tough Staying safe for mom and baby has never been tougher than it is now. 😷 Shout out to all the pregnant moms and moms with newborns!! You are amazing. 🙇‍♀️ You are strong. 💪 And our hearts are with you. ❤️⁠
📷: @themommaprentice
The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠ ⁠.⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandma Names 👵⁠
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When I found out I was pregnant, one of the many things I began to wonder was, "What are my parents and in-laws going to go by as their grandparent names?" Grandparents are not just going with the classic "Grandma and Grandpa" names anymore. Some are now getting creative and are coming up with new ideas. If your mother or mother-in-law are unsure of what they want their special Grandma names to be, we're sharing our ultimate list of over 100 Grandma names to choose from!⁠ ❤️ ⁠{Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @newmommy_in_city