I really wanted to talk about the benefits of encapsulating your placenta, as there are probably many of you out there who have heard of placenta encapsulation but aren’t quite sure what it is, or those of you who haven’t heard of it at all and are wondering why on earth anyone would choose to consume their placenta (which is exactly what my husband asked!)

Noun: The eating of a placenta, especially by a mother after giving birth.

The practice of consuming the placenta is actually very common among land mammals. In fact, it’s believed that the camel and humans are the only mammals that do not, as a rule, consume their placenta after birth. Despite this, placentophagy has been getting some serious traction in North America with the rise in popularity of midwifery, home births, and a return to a more “holistic” approach to birthing.

So why would anyone choose to consume their placenta?

Well, there are some very real potential benefits to placentophagy:

1. It helps to encourage the uterus to return to it’s pre-pregnancy size due to the increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which is also the same hormone that is responsible for the contractions you felt during labour.

2. It helps to encourage bonding with your baby, also as a result of the increased release of the  oxytocin hormone (aka the “love hormone”).

3. It increases levels of CRH, or corticotropin-releasing hormone, which is responsible for telling your body to chill when you’ve been exposed to stress. Most people would say that suddenly being responsible for a new life that is entirely dependent on you is one of the more stressful life events. I would tend to agree.

4. It decreases the risk of postpartum depression by replenishing iron levels (low iron, or iron deficiency anemia, is linked to postpartum depression).

5. It encourages lactation and increases energy levels.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that the above benefits are facts and that consuming your placenta will definitely increase your milk supply or prevent postpartum depression. Truthfully, the studies that have been done on placentophagy have been largely inconclusive, and more studies need to be done before either side can say it helps or doesn’t help. But there are stories from thousands of women who tout the benefits from placenta consumption, and to me, that is worth it’s weight in gold. 

In a more recent study from 2013 (see citation at the end of this post), researchers asked women about their experience with placentophagy. 75% of the women in the study said that their placentophagy experience was “very positive” and only 1% said their experience was “not positive.” Here are some direct quotes from the women in the study:

he [two] postpartum periods were markedly different. My recovery was faster. My moods were lifted. I had more energy than I ever thought possible just days after giving birth.”

“I had no negative effects at all, only positive effects. The placenta encap- sulation affected my mood to the point that I was able to enjoy my time with my new baby instead of stressing about having a 17 month old, a newborn, and a brand new house. Within hours of taking the first pills I felt a definite change in my mood and energy level. I would absolutely do it again, and would recommend it to anyone.”

“I have never felt so good after having a baby. I was happy and healthy and lost baby weight quickly. My milk supply was higher and my energy level was very high. Emotionally, I was very calm and positive and peaceful. “

“I noticed a huge difference in my recovery—more energy, less bleeding, and no depression or feelings of “baby blues.”

If you’re in the Toronto or Greater Toronto Area (Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa and surrounding areas) and are interested in possibly having your placenta encapsulated, or just want to find out more, feel free to reach out to me. I'd love to hear from you!

Jodi Selander , Allison Cantor , Sharon M. Young & Daniel C. Benyshek (2013): Human Maternal Placentophagy: A Survey of Self-Reported Motivations and Experiences Associated with Placenta Consumption, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 52:2, 93-115